What Does it Take
to Bounce Back?
By Maureen Pollard
Maureen Pollard, MSW, RSW is a registered social worker with a
private practice in Cobourg, Ontario.
Being resilient means having the ability to adapt when things
get tough. We all face problems sometimes, and sometimes
those problems can be pretty big. What does it take to get
through a bad experience? Here are some things you can try:
Human beings are wired to connect with one another. You
might be an introvert, who needs time alone to feel recharged,
or an extrovert, who loves spending time with other people.
Either way, it’s important to know that you have a few people you can count on. It might be family or friends or both. You don’t need a lot of people, just one or two will do. Think about those people who really get you, and who always have your back. That feeling of connection helps you feel strong.
Looking on the bright side of things is another key factor in resilience. Our brains are trained to look for negatives and danger; it’s how we survive, but that can mean we don’t notice positive things. When you are optimistic, and search out the things that make you smile, laugh and feel good, it makes it easier to bounce back during difficult times.
It’s important not to be blindly optimistic. That can leave you feeling disappointed when things don’t work out. Being optimistic with a side of realism is ideal. That’s the kind of attitude that has you hoping for the best even if you are preparing for the worst, and it can help you weather emotional storms that blow through your life when you face problems.
When things do go well, when an activity feels good or brings a reward, and when someone is kind to you, it pays to notice it. Many people keep a gratitude journal – really, just a list of things that they are thankful for. This can help you remember to be grateful for what is positive in your life, and when things are going poorly you have a ready reminder of the fact that the bad times are temporary. Things have been good before, and they will be good again.
Laugh it Off:
Keeping a sense of humour is an important part of being resilient. Laughing relieves tension, and that can help you pause and think differently about your challenges.
Take a Breath:
Speaking of a pause, it can be really helpful to just breathe. When something is hard and you’re not sure what to do, take a deep breath. Inhale as you count to four, hold your breath as you count to four again, and exhale as you count to four one more time. If you take a few breaths while you count, it will give your mind a break from worry. At the same time, it you’ll take in more oxygen, which makes thinking easier, and helps your muscles relax.
Next time you’re facing a problem and feeling down, give these strategies a try!