Life is stressful. Anything from losing a loved one to moving house or dealing with a new boss can bring us undone; but some seem to deal better than others with whatever life throws at them.
The secret, experts say, is resilience; the ability to recover emotionally and physically from difficulties and setbacks.
Dr Chris Horan, a Melbourne-based clinical psychologist and founder of the Resilience and Change Academy says we’re not born with it; resilience is a skill we need to develop.
“Life today requires a lot more self-management than ever before,” Horan says. “You don’t have to look too far to see we’re all being pushed to do more with less and access to support is decreasing because we’re all so busy we’re not helping each other.”
Stuart Taylor, founder of the Resilience Institute Australia says with rates of depression and anxiety on the rise, psychological resilience is a vital skill for anyone who wants to cope, grow and flourish.
Here are six ways to overcome unexpected setbacks.
1. Cultivate strong lifestyle practices: basic things like regular exercise, healthy eating habits and smart choices around sleep can boost your resilience.
If you’re not getting seven to nine hours each night your energy levels and immune system will be impacted negatively. Locking in a consistent bedtime and wake-up time seven days a week and avoiding caffeine after 3pm can help ensure you get enough shut-eye.
2. Make time for mindfulness and meditation.
Take five to 15 minutes a day to sit still, steady your breathing and rest your mind. Aim to turn mindfulness practice into a daily habit and pay close attention to the details of every task you set yourself, rather than looking for distractions.
3. Learn to say no when you’re busy.
Whether with family and friends or in the workplace, it’s vital to set healthy limits for yourself. Create an environment in which it’s OK to say no, and give yourself permission to say it politely and firmly – practice in the mirror if you need to.
4. Build connections with others.
Cultivating strong, positive relationships with people who are emotionally available will help you maintain perspective during those tough times when you need support.
5. Find your purpose.
What do you love doing? What are your strengths? How do these fit into your work and financial situation? Getting this combination into place allows you to feel you’re heading in the right direction and have a reason for getting out of bed each day.
6. If you feel stuck, get professional help.
One of the most important aspects of resilience is asking for help when you need it – especially if you’re dealing with depression and anxiety. A professional counsellor can help you cope with a difficult time and develop strategies to get through it.