Most of us prefer to make some extra effort to keep our brains and bodies in good shape so we can have enjoyable and rewarding lives during our 70’s, 80’s and 90’s. Those extra efforts will not only keep us healthier now but it will also reduce our risks of developing Alzheimer’s.
We have looked at the top two preventative activities, regular exercise and sufficient sleep. Now we are going to consider how to enhance our resilience – our ability to handle stress.
It was well over 2,000 years ago when China’s Yellow Emperor wrote,
“Maintaining order rather than correcting disorder is the ultimate principle of wisdom. To cure a disease after it has manifest is like digging a well when one feels thirsty, or forging a weapon when the war has already begun.”
Resilience is what allows us to ride the ups and downs of life without being overwhelmed and chronically stressed. Becoming more resilient will help you deal with the inevitable adversity which will come your way. When bad things happen, we can do a number of things to help ourselves:
- Remind yourself that this too will pass.
- Be compassionate and kind to yourself.
- Don’t imagine “worst case scenarios”.
- Have courage. Remind yourself you have the courage and are choosing to confront this difficulty. “Courage is the choice and willingness to confront agony, pain, danger, uncertainty, or intimidation.” -Wikipedia
- Don’t blame yourself or others. Blaming yourself for something passed is pointless. Look for what you are learning as a result and know the learning will make you stronger in future. Telling yourself that someone else should or shouldn’t have done something differently will only increase your pain. Accept that you prefer other people to behave well and put aside the blame.
- Accept that things are sometimes very difficult, unfair, and that bad luck happens. Remember you have handled “the slings and arrows of outrageous fortune” (Hamlet by Shakespeare) before and, even when you don’t want to, you have dealt with those difficulties and gone on to better times.
- Deliberately look for the optimistic side of things. This is the quality which allows you to be knocked down by life and come back at least as strong as before, usually stronger. Winston Churchill once said, “A pessimist sees the difficulty in every opportunity; an optimist sees the opportunity in every difficulty.” Look for the opportunity in each difficulty. You might be surprised at what you find.
- Ask for help. Think of your closest friend or family member. If that person was facing a tough time but did not ask you for help, how would you feel?
- Exercise – it rejuvenates your body and brain, relieves stress, and allows you to sleep better.
- Talk rationally to yourself.
Here are some useful disputes I use after I notice I have been thinking a bit irrationally:
- I can handle this.
- I prefer to … (more rational than saying “I should, must …)
- I am competent at my job.
- I prefer he/she would … (more rational than saying “he/she should, must …)
- He/she is not attacking me personally.
- Let’s see how I handle this one.
- I am learning how to do this better and better.
- It’s a shame other people behave badly but I can cope.
- I feel compassion for this person.
- I have handled difficult situations in my life so I can handle this one.
- I am in control of my response.
- I would like …
- On my scale of 1-10, where 10 is the worst thing I can think of that could happen to me, this is not even a 1.
- The key to mistakes is what I learn from them.
- I have a good reputation.
- I don’t know what someone else is thinking.
- I respect myself and others.
- I do the best I can with the time and energy I have now.
- This too will pass.
- This is one moment in my life.
I wish you every success in your journey of life.