Adverse life events can have negative consequences on the mental health and wellbeing, although it can increase strength of the person, meaning that adversity can have benefits (Seery, 2011). Some adversity is better than too much or none at all (Seery, 2011).
The Seery (2011) study examined why some people were able to bounce back through adversity and why some were not. It was found that catastrophising was a cause for maintaining a negative outlook on the event (Seery, 2011). Catastrophising occurs when a person exaggerates an experience or its outcome through negative cognitive processing and not being able to stop thinking about it (Seery, 2011).
Benefits of cognitive processing includes having a positive attitude and seeing the learning experiences through adversity.
Also the Seery (2011) study found that practicing coping resources built resiliency. Coping resources may include meditation, talking to people who have a positive and empathetic nature, and exercise.
Therefore, exposure to stress is more likely to build control and mastery within yourself (Seery, 2011). Resiliency is about learning to be in control of a stressful situation or getting back in control. Learning to build control and mastery after adversity doesn't take away the bad experience, it just means that there is potential to find your strength through it. There is also the potential to learn more about yourself.
5 Ways to Build Resilience:
Bag of coping Skills - Go through your bag of coping skills or if you don't have any explore which ones suit you. Your coping skills may include going for a walk in nature to clean your energy, meditating, talking to positive and empathetic people, or writing in your journal.
Problem-focused coping - It may be your environment that may be causing the adversity which needs to be changed. Therefore problem-focused coping includes fixing the problem that is causing the adversity.
Emotion-focused coping - If you can't change your environment then you may decide to manage your emotions to cope. This may include staying positive, or going for a walk to take a break and feel better. Although emotion-focused coping may be an avoidant strategy that won't take the problem away, but give you space to consider using problem-focused coping.
Have a positive attitude - Attitude is about what you like or don't like. If you don't like your environment, think broadly and examine if your are either catastrophising, thinking negatively, or need to move on as you have outgrown your environment. Having a positive attitude may also include thinking about what is working in your life or writing it down in a gratitude diary to change your negative schema that may have formed from the adversity. Although awareness is the key, as you will have to be aware of what you need to work on.
Stay motivated - Firstly, there usually is a goal that you want to achieve, secondly work out how the stress/adversity you are experiencing is getting in the way. For instance, if it is your work that is suffering as a result from the stress/adversity, then spending time managing/resolving it will help you achieve your goal which therefore enables you to put more energy and enthusiasm in your work. The stress/adversity may also get in the way of your relationships, so your goal may be to learn from the experience to have better relationships. Keeping your goal in mind will encourage you to build resiliency and stay motivated.
Reference: Seery, M. (2011). Resilience: A silver lining to experiencing adverse life events? Current Directions in Psychological Science. Sage, 20(6), 390-394.
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