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Learning Resiliency Skills

Webster's dictionary defines resilience as:

The ability to bounce or spring back into shape after being stretched, bent or compressed.

The term resilience has been applied to people who handle stress well. Resilient people are generally more flexible, able to bounce back from setbacks, are grateful for life's simple pleasures and have a strong faith that "everything happens for a reason." These are the basic resiliency skills.

Some people are just born resilient. They don't need to learn resiliency skills. Nothing bothers them. These are the people who grow up to be astronauts and lion-tamers. But the rest of do need to learn resiliency skills and the good news is we can, easily. Here are seven resiliency skills that will help you handle almost any stressful situation. (These resiliency skills were excerpted from The Stress Profiler.)

Resiliency Skill #1:

Build your coping resources. Exercise, meditate, practice yoga or some other form of relaxation on a regular basis. These activities (when practiced regularly) not only help you relax after a stressful day, they help make more impervious to stress in the future. (Remember what makes a resiliency skill different from a stress management skill is the resiliency skill helps you build an immunity to stress where stress bothers you less and less.

Resiliency Skill #2:

Be flexible. Trees and shrubs that don't bend in the wind will break. Learn how to go with the flow or you will break too. Begin by learning how to compromise. The sooner you learn that your way isn't the only way, the sooner you will see how to move through a stressful crisis. It may be inflexible thinking that got you into that stressful crisis in the first place.

Resiliency Skill #3:

Seek support. Your closest friends, certain co-workers, family members, spiritual advisors and counselors can help you weather any storm. These are your pillars of strength. Don't be afraid to lean on them in times of trouble. Tell these supportive people exactly what is going on: I'm having trouble financially. I feel really depressed. I am having trouble with co-workers who I thought were my friends. There is an old saying that applies here: A problem shared is a problem halved.

Resiliency Skill #4:

See setbacks as temporary. We all have a tendency to "awfulize" and believe that the worst possible scenario is the only scenario. Try your best to move through times of crisis knowing that eventually you are going to come out OK on the other side.

Resiliency Skill #5:

Nurture an attitude of gratitude. Before going to bed at night make a mental list of everything you have to be grateful for. Gratitude is one of the basic underpinnings of contentment and stress resilience.

Resiliency Skill #6:

Develop your spiritual resources. Strong spiritual beliefs are a great antidote for stress. When you truly believe that everything happens for a reason, your stress resilience is going to going to be improved.

Resiliency Skill #7:

Take action. Don't let your problems cripple you to the point of inertia, or inaction. Take any action that moves you forward even if it is only a "baby step."

Resilience is about facing stress head on and looking at stressful situations as opportunities for growth. Begin to see your stress like a professional athlete sees his or her workout: It's how you get better at what you do. Your stress is like a workout for your mind. It builds character and exercises your problem-solving ability. It's part of being human. When you see stress in this way - and learn to take it in stride - you will begin to appreciate life more, enjoy challenges and overcome obstacles that only temporarily block your way. And that's how you build resiliency skills. (Watch our training film on Resilience now.)

Quick Resiliency Skills Test

Instructions: Read each statement and decide how you feel about it based on the choices to the right of the question. Ponts are awarded as follows: Strongly Agree: 1; Moderately Agree: 2; Moderately Disagree: 3; Strongly Disagree: 4;

Question:Your Response:
1.I don’t let little things bother me.
2.I am grateful for the simple things like family, having enough to eat, love, etc.
3.I make decisions easily.
4.Spirituality, or belief in God, plays an important role in my life.
5.I don’t mind asking for help when I need it.
6.I embrace change.
7.I always try to put problems in perspective and see "the big picture."
8.I don’t mind admitting when I’m wrong.
9.I always bounce back after a big let down.
10.I consider myself an optimist.
Your Total Score:

What Your Result Means:

You're probably a very resilient person. You adapt well to change and deal well with adversity.

You are more resilient than most, but have a few areas you could work on: Perhaps developing a stronger spiritual foundation, or learning how to be more flexible for example.

You are still above average in resilience but you might want to work on things like decisiveness, gratitude and learning to see setbacks as only temporary.

You have areas you need to work on in order to be more resilient. Seek the support of friends, and become more action-oriented. Stop thinking about what's wrong with your life (complaining) and focus on what's right by developing an "attitude of gratitude." Talk about what you want and develop an action plan for getting it.

Read all the tips below and work on developing your coping resources: exercise, meditate, practice yoga and deep breathing.

Read all of the tips below and seek the support of a spiritual counselor, therapist, or some other professional who can help you build self-esteem, confidence, and a more positive outlook on life.

What can I do to improve my resilience skills right now?

  1. Make a list of at least 10 things you have to be grateful for. Think of at least five every night before you go to bed.

  2. Make a list of five bottlenecks in your life. What is keeping you from getting you to where you want to be? Ask yourself, "Why haven't I accomplished my goals already? Your answers to this question will help you understand how can you remove the bottlenecks.

  3. Make a list of the ten most common excuses you give for not getting what you want.

  4. Read something inspiring.

  5. Call a friend who makes you laugh.

  6. Think of three examples of bad things that happened to you in the past that ultimately turned out for the best. Now apply any insights you might have from these past events to your current life circumstances. Is there something going badly now, that eventually might turn out to be for the best? Like a relationship, job or financial situation? Don't be afraid to move in new directions and practice your resilience skills.

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