Over 10 years ago, I flew to Washington, D.C. to participate in the Million Mom March, hoping our protest would encourage tighter restrictions on guns. Now, in Norway, we again see the horrible results of guns and bombs in the hands of a hateful, delusional man, with the massacre of over 76 people by Anders Breivik. When terrible events like this happen, even though they may take place far away, we often react with a sense of personal loss – of control, expectations, well-being.
Especially if you are a Sandwiched Boomer, it’s easy to become overwhelmed by these depressing situations, since you always have a lot on your plate anyway. Torn between caring for your growing children and aging parents, it’s normal to feel stressed and anxious. If your feelings of helplessness have mushroomed and those of resiliency plummeted – by news of incidents like these across the world or by crises within your own family sphere – you may be looking for tips to help you increase your ability to cope. Like a rubber ball, can you learn how to bounce back from adversity, without getting stuck in a quagmire of pessimism? Here are a few suggestions to help you build your resiliency.
Work to maintain a positive attitude. Letting go of negative thoughts and emotions can be the first step in moving toward a more optimistic outlook. Choose to hold on to what you are grateful for and feel fortunate to have in your life. Your level of happiness will increase and you’ll be better able to thrive after a stressful circumstance.
Focus on what you can control. Once you define your goals, you can work to achieve them. Identify your options and design a plan to guide you as you navigate around obstacles and toward your target. Being mindful can help you recover more quickly after a setback and hardiness allows you to improve your performance and health.
Practice stress reduction techniques. Deep breathing, guided imagery, yoga and meditation can help you feel centered and allow you to concentrate on optimizing your abilities. A spiritual connection helps you achieve balance. Time spent socializing with friends and the joy of laughter also let you unwind and relax so that you can apply your skills more efficiently.
Recognize your own strengths and use them. You will develop more resiliency when you are tested by hard times than when everything is going well for you. You capabilities are increased each time you get up after a disaster and put one foot in front of the other to move forward. You can learn more about identifying your strengths at the Authentic Happiness website when you take the VIA Survey of Character Strengths. Use the ones that seem to define you – Signature Strengths – to support your progress through tough times. And ask for help when you need it.
Exercise regularly and maintain a healthy, sensible diet. These behaviors serve as a natural defense against stress and the foundation for building mastery and competence. If you can combine them with positive relationships, the effect is exponential.
Savor your successes. Enjoy the small steps you take toward accomplishing your objectives. Give yourself credit for what you have achieved. Set aside a time each evening to reminisce about the pleasures of that day as well as recall happy times in the past.