We all know that sometimes life can throw you a curveball, so how can you feel more confident in your ability to cope with whatever comes your way? Often times the path we take creates the fabric of our emotional selves. Remember, it’s never too late to learn ways to find your inner strength.*
A character trait that can be helpful is resilience: being mentally and emotionally strong. Shared by those able to weather the storm and deal with life’s curveballs, resilience is the ability to adapt and respond to the big and little stuff. Whether its health insurance issues, the death of a loved one, family issues, redundancy, or a computer breakdown, a person’s level of resilience will affect their capacity to cope with any challenge. As the years rack up so, too, does the likelihood of facing such problems. That’s why it’s important to learn how to overcome and live with them, without constantly being overwhelmed.
The best news is that resilience can be nurtured, developed, and strengthened. It won’t make you invincible or spare your pain, distress, or heartache. Resilient people hurt and feel just as much as the next person. It might, however, foster a belief that will help you adapt and respond to circumstances without being floored by them. Here are a few tips:
5 Ways to Increase Inner Strength
1. Take care of yourself- To be able to cope well when life takes a nosedive, you need to be mentally and emotionally strong — which means self-care. Make sleep a priority, eat a well-balanced diet comprised of a rainbow of colors. Don’t beat yourself up about things you said or left unsaid, spend time outdoors, stretch, go to the movies. Do what you enjoy and find energizing; this might mean making time to read quietly every day, trying an online yoga class, or having a regular chat with friends — everyone’s different. Life is difficult enough when your personal battery runs low, so try and remember to keep charging it. This way it will be fully charged when things get tricky.
2. Really feel it- Giving yourself permission to feel your emotions, rather than denying or pushing them away, validates and respects them, and offers a way forward. While few want to feel scared, sad, unsure or angry, pretending that a challenging or painful event isn’t happening is unlikely to make distressing thoughts and feelings go away. Recognizing and acknowledging that they are difficult but real can increase your ability to navigate them in the future. Show yourself the compassion you would a friend in a similar situation.
3. Step outside your comfort zone- Just outside, it is the stretch zone, where you push yourself to try something uncomfortable but not terrifying. To build your coping capability, encourage yourself to do things a little stretchy. Every time you try a new activity or do something difficult, unknown, or challenging, you’re building resilience. You’re showing yourself you can take on, and deal with, challenges. It won’t always work out and you might falter – that’s a natural part of life. But the experience offers a chance to acknowledge and reward your effort and this in itself can help to strengthen resilience. You’re building a bank of experiences that demonstrate your capability. So, whether it’s learning a new skill, pushing yourself to do 20 push-ups, starting an online group chat, or entering a creative writing competition, challenge yourself to try something stretchy.
4. Take control of what you can- When you’re in the middle of a challenging situation, look for what you can and can’t control. Aspects over which you have no power can feel unnerving and scary. Railing against what you can’t influence, or spending time and energy wishing it was different, are natural reactions, but they might leave you more frustrated and upset. Instead, try to work out the areas where you do have influence, no matter how small they may seem in the bigger picture. Take action in these areas.
5. Reach out- Look around you for help and support. The myth that those who are better able to cope are independent folk who just do it all alone is exactly that – a myth. Resilient people know it’s okay to ask for help, be vulnerable, and seek support from wherever and whoever feels appropriate. It doesn’t equal weakness. Everyone needs help throughout.
*Portions of article reprinted from: Breathe; The staying home issue. P.31