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Bill Shaw shares some strategies for building resilience. Photo: SUPPLIED

Bounce back from adversity

When did you last encounter adversity and how effectively did you deal with it?
The pop band R.E.M. in their song Everybody Hurts reminds us that life at times can be difficult, no one is exempt from the ups and downs of life. Setbacks, misfortune and painful experiences are common. Our ability to bounce back from challenging life experiences is known as resilience and refers to the ability to cope with and recover from difficulties and stresses. It is a trait that can be learned and developed through practice.
Some strategies you can use to build resilience in your life are:
1. Acknowledge that adversity does not discriminate; we all must deal with confronting times. Pay attention to your self-talk as our evolutionary inclination is to watch for negative events. Consequently, we sometimes respond to setbacks with pessimistic thinking which hinders us from noticing the good things.
2. Every night before you go to bed, write down three good things that went well during the day and why you are grateful for them. Research highlights that when individuals do this consistently for a period, they feel less depressed and better about themselves. Count your blessings whether they are small or big.
3. Some of you may have seen the film Pay it Forward where an act of kindness is repaid by doing something good for someone else. Random acts of kindness are small and thoughtful actions that you can do to make some else’s day a little brighter. They can be done for strangers, friends and family. Studies have linked the practice of random acts of kindness to the release of dopamine in the brain which is known as the “feel-good” hormone.

4. Cultivate hope and optimism as they are powerful positive emotions associated to feelings of wellbeing. There is a line from the movie The Shawshank Redemption, which states “Hope is a good thing. May be the best of things. And no good thing ever dies”. Believe in yourself, a concept known as self-efficacy which is the belief that you can achieve your goals. It can enhance your motivation and performance.
5. Imagine your best self, recognise your strengths and how you can use them as levers for positive change. Identifying and employing your personal strengths can help you navigate challenging situations that require you to use your skills and talents to overcome obstacles.
These strategies seem straightforward, it takes discipline and practice to incorporate them into your daily life. The US Army concerned by the number of soldiers experiencing post-traumatic stress disorder has incorporated them into the training of their military. This training is known as “Hunting the Good Stuff”. I wish you well for hunting the good stuff in your life.
– Bill Shaw is a registered social worker and psychologist