Resilience: How to Increase your Ability to Cope with Difficulties

Nurturing one particular quality can help increase your ability to cope in and out of work.

Resilience is defined as the ability to cope positively in the midst of adversity. Some people seem to be able to bounce back like a rubber ball from multiple hardships and disappointments, while others snap or give up. One inspiring example of a highly resilient person is Oprah Winfrey.

Oprah was born in poverty in Mississippi to an unwed teenage mom. Until age 6, she was raised by her grandmother after her mother took a job in another state. Once reunited with her mother, she suffered abuse at the hands of male relatives while her mother worked. ;She tried ;to run away, but she was sent to a juvenile detention center. There, she was turned down due to a lack of beds. On her own at age 14, she finally found some stability when her father took her in. Where is Oprah today? As we know, she is beloved all over the world as a celebrity media mogul and philanthropist.

Want to be more of a resilient bouncy ball?

If resilience doesn’t come naturally, it can be cultivated to help handle stress and overcome challenges in the workplace – and in life. Environment plays a role in developing resilience; however, there are also skills and attitudes you can cultivate to increase your ability to cope. The following qualities and tips may help you get started:

Social Competence. Resilient people know how to interact positively with others and build relationships. Research shows children who have overcome significant adversity all had a stable, committed relationship with at least one supportive grown up. Oprah had her grandmother, church community and later, her father.

TIP: Look for and build up supportive relationships with people who’ll be there when the going gets tough. Do the same for someone else who needs you, and you’ll be fostering resilience in others. Your kindness benefits you as the giver, as well as the recipient.

Problem Solving Skills. Resilient people know how to be resourceful, including asking others for help. They are flexible and can plan, observe and change behavior.

TIP: To sharpen your cognitive powers so that you are better able to adapt to change, keep your brain healthy with sleep, fuel and oxygen-delivering exercise. Since we can only focus on a problem for certain amount of time, take “brain breaks,” where you let your mind wander, or vary your activities during the day.

Sense of Autonomy. Resilient people feel like they have the power to make decisions and affect outcomes. They believe they can influence their own fates. They are independent, and figure out how to set healthy boundaries in their lives between themselves and people who would harm them.

TIP: What’s bothering you? What can you do to change it, or change your attitude? If you are facing a tough decision, try brainstorming a list of different ways you could handle the situation, and evaluating the pros and cons of each. Notice that you have the power to choose your response.

Purpose and a Future. Resilient people know where they want to go, and why they are here. This may be a result of strong religious faith or cultural traditions. It may arise from feeling they have a calling beyond themselves to help others. They are also hopeful: tough times might just be temporary.

TIP: Remind yourself of your inner strengths (faith, ability to make a difference in the world beyond yourself, or your organization). Instead of viewing a challenge as a disaster, see it as an opportunity to grow.

The information presented is for your general knowledge and does not replace the advice of your health care provider. All medical inquiries regarding your health should be presented to your health care provider.

Find out more about improving your overall health, or changing your workplace into a healthier environment.