Researchers who study stress and resilience say mid-life is often a time when many people face life changes like divorce, the death of a parent, or a career setback, writes Tara Parker-Pope, author of How to Build Resilience in Midlife. That is when coping skills are essential for meeting these new challenges.
Meet Stress with a Plan
Research has shown that it is possible to take steps during a crisis to aid emotional recovery. Learning how to take care of a parent and working that into your schedule is stressful. Regardless how much you love your parent or your willingness to take on the role of caregiver, it is a significant change. Change creates emotional stress that you must recover from. Enhance the recovery process by cultivating resilience to deal with stress.
- Resilient people are those who don’t wallow or dwell on failure or setbacks but keep moving forward, according to mindtools.com.
- One way to develop this ability, according to psychologist Martin Seligman, is to practice optimism. Your disposition towards optimism or pessimism is partly genetic, but you can cultivate optimism.
Beliefs of Resilient People
Cultivating resilience to deal with stress can be learned. Resilient people share a set of beliefs, says Seligman.
- Life’s setbacks aren’t permanent
- Failure in one aspect of their lives doesn’t have to impact all the others.
People who are able to bounce back after a bad event don’t blame themselves when things go wrong, says Seligman. Instead, they take a more holistic view that includes the circumstances and other people involved.
Instead of blaming yourself, ask yourself constructive questions. How do you solve the issue you are dealing with today? Do you need an extra pair of hands to help? Is there a simpler way to do the same task? Is there a book or a class where you can learn more about the issue? What is the cause of the conflict, and is there a way to mitigate it? Consider all the circumstances and people involved when looking for a solution. Avoid blaming yourself or others. Seek and believe that a solution is possible.
Pulling on Past Experiences
It also helps to remind yourself of other times when you made it through tough periods, say researchers. Remembering how you overcame personal challenges could give you a resilience boost. Learning how to reframe your story can also help you build resilience.
Reframing Your Story
The way you explain what the setbacks in your life mean plays a big part in how well you handle stress, the research shows. One Harvard study found, for instance, that students who reframed their story by thinking of stress as a way to fuel better performance did better on tests. They also managed their stress better.
Reframe your story by replacing the victim story rattling around in your head with a victory story. When the tasks required by your parent, your job, or your family seem overwhelming, then rewrite the story. When you need to rewrite the story is when you find yourself thinking there is no way I can handle all these responsibilities. I’m neglecting everybody and no one is happy with me. It’s too much for one person to do! Instead, reframe that story and think this:
Reframing the story will help you find solutions. Whereas, letting the victim wail in your head unchecked will keep you from finding solutions. No one can think creatively about solutions when they are overcome with negativity.
Practice cultivating resilience to deal with stress daily. It is a learned coping skill. Mastering it reaps significant rewards in your life. You may find this link to D-Stress useful in building resilience. There is also a wide selection of books on Amazon on how to build resilience (This is merely a link. We are not an affiliate of Amazon or any of these authors).