In the past few years, we have been forced to deal with one crisis after another—from a global pandemic to economic uncertainty, from social turmoil to natural disasters. On a personal level, many of us also deal with grief, from sudden unemployment to losing a loved one.
Living through times like this can take a heavy toll on your health and outlook, leaving you feeling overwhelmed and helpless. While we can’t avoid distress, sorrow, and adversity in life, the good news is that there are ways to help smooth the rough waters and regain a sense of control.
We need to learn how to build resilience. Resilience is the ability to cope with change, loss, and trauma—all inevitable parts of life. Developing resilience can help you recover better from hardship and tragedy, adapt to life-changing events, and cope with the turbulent times.
Some of us tend to be more sensitive to emotional anguish and find it hard to cope with problems. Do not think of it as a character flaw. Remember that resilience isn’t a fixed quality; instead, it’s a continuous process that requires effort to develop and maintain.
Below, we discuss some tips to help you cope with turbulent times and make it through more hopeful days ahead.
Denial is usually our immediate response after a personal tragedy, which prevents you from seeking solutions and stifles the healing process. One of the best things you can do for yourself is to accept that change is a part of life, and some changes, like an economic downturn or the spread of a virus, are out of your control.
Yes, it’s tough to accept these changes, but railing against things you can’t control will only drain you of energy and leave you feeling anxious and stressed. On the other hand, learning how to accept your current situation can free you to devote your energy to things over which you have control.
Focus on things you can control
While you can’t control economic fluctuations, there are some things that you can control, like saving or getting a part-time job.
Another thing that’s within your control is whether you accept your feelings or not. Many people ignore their unpleasant emotions and put on a brave face. However, denying these emotions will only fuel your stress and prevent you from moving on. If you allow yourself to feel your feelings, you’ll find that even the most severe, troubling feelings will pass, and you’ll be able to find a path forward.
Reach out to others
Studies show that reaching out to your social support network can boost your mood and make sense of the disruption you’re experiencing. You can draw on their strength and develop resilience by knowing that you can lean on others. They don’t have to have answers to the problems you’re facing; they only need to be willing to listen without judgment.
Step up your self-care
Researchers have found that the connection between the mind and the body is strong. This is why self-care is essential to building resilience.
Your self-care routine doesn’t need to be complicated; you need to attend to three things: exercise, sleep, and diet.
Getting enough exercise is crucial when experiencing high stress because you likely carry it somewhere in your body. You could have neck or back pain, an upset stomach, frequent headaches, insomnia, or tense muscles. Exercise is a great way to ease the tension in your body and counteract the physical symptoms of stress.
Sleep is also vital to building resilience, as a lack of sleep can quickly diminish your resolve. You can improve your sleep by improving your daytime habits and taking the time to unwind before bed.
Lastly, you need to eat well. If you can, avoid eating lots of processed and takeout food; it can take a toll on your brain, weaken your immune system, and sap your energy. On the other hand, eating a balanced diet low in sugar and rich in healthy fats can give you the strength to focus on tackling the challenges you’re facing.
Find your purpose
Whether in activities you enjoy or the company you keep, finding meaning and purpose can help keep your problems from overwhelming you.
One way to find purpose is by pursuing your interests and hobbies. These things can nourish your spirit and help you find strength. Whether caring for a pet, doing home improvement projects, playing a sport, or an artistic endeavor, continuing to draw pleasure from your favorite pastimes adds to your ability to cope with the difficult times.
You can also find purpose in helping others. Giving support can be just as beneficial as receiving it. You can try donating to a charity, giving blood, or volunteering.
You may feel like being motivated is the last thing you’ll ever be in a crisis. However, you need to find ways to stay motivated and endure. One way to do this is to express gratitude, no matter how you’re feeling at that moment. Find one thing you’re grateful for—a majestic sunset, a reliable friend, or the love of a pet. No matter how small it is, being grateful can help you cope with stress.
You can also keep yourself motivated by breaking down your tasks into smaller, manageable steps. This prevents you from feeling overwhelmed, stressed out, and hopeless.
No matter the situation in which you find yourself, always take the time to celebrate small wins. If you’re learning how to walk on your prosthetic leg, celebrate your progress, even just learning how to stand up and take one step. Noting these small successes can give you a break from all the negativity and stress and encourage you to keep going.
Last but most important, be kind to yourself. Remember that everyone adjusts differently, so don’t beat yourself up. Self-compassion is an integral part of building resilience, so go easy on yourself.