Functioning Through Adversity By: William I. Brazley Jr., HR Director Are you having a problem staying focused at work? Do you snap at family members for small, insignificant reasons? While driving, have you recently missed a turn, or almost had an accident because you were mentally preoccupied? These are a few signs indicating that you could be trying to cope with some form of adversity in your life. Adversity is defined as “adverse or unfavorable fortune, or fate; a condition marked by misfortune; calamity or distress; an adverse or unfavorable event or circumstance.” All of us know someone who has gone through some form of adversity. All of us have been through some form of adversity, whether it was an illness, a death in the family, a troubled marriage, financial difficulties, a school bully, family issues, job pressures, concerns about our children, a broken vehicle, much needed house repairs or a number of other things. It’s ironic that we spend our entire lives trying to avoid adversity, but mental health professionals will tell you that avoiding it completely is practically impossible. In that case, shouldn’t we spend as much time preparing for adversity as we spend trying to avoid it? How do we prepare for, or successfully function during times of adversity? We practice resilience. Resilience is the anecdote for adversity. Resilience is defined as “the capacity or ability to recover quickly from difficulties; toughness.” Resilience is not an inherited trait. It’s learned behavior, thoughts and action. That means you can learn to successfully function through adversity. The first step is to take it one day at a time. Trying to look at the big picture, or playing the “what if” game, can be overwhelming. Dealing with grief, suffering or a difficult issue can put you on an emotional rollercoaster. That’s a ride you should avoid. Don’t look farther than today. Make it through today and then count it as a success. Each day will become an additional success, which will build up over time and your issue won’t seem as overwhelming. Avoid thinking of a crisis as an insurmountable problem. You can’t stop stressful events from happening, but you can control how you interpret and respond to them. Focus on the things you have control over and keep things in perspective. Avoid blowing the issue out of proportion. Having a good support group of family and friends is important. Accepting help and encouragement from those who care about you strengthens your resilience. Two things that are very important and help to strengthen your resilience is keeping a positive, hopeful outlook and taking care of yourself. Concentrate on what you want instead of worrying about what might happen. Stay optimistic and don’t neglect your own needs and feelings. Eat right, exercise and do things that you enjoy and find relaxing. Meditation is good for destressing and calming your mind. Research has shown that resilience is more of an ordinary trait than an extraordinary one. We see it all the time after catastrophic events. Somehow the survivors rebuild their lives and become stronger in spite of what has happened. They are being resilient. Being resilient doesn’t mean that you don’t go through some adversities. It’s the ability to bounce back. Advice that I am sure you have heard before is to forgive others who may have hurt you, but above all else forgive yourself. This can be freeing and empowering. Self-confidence is also very important. Believe in your own abilities and trust your instincts. Stay positive and remember that nothing lasts forever. Sources: How to Maintain your Self-Confidence During Times of Adversity By Thea Easterby The Road To Resilience By The American Psychological Association How to Deal With Adversity at Work By Karen Burns 3 “You can’t stop stressful events from happening, but you can control how you interpret and respond to them. ” RESILIENCE