Controlling Distress and Boosting Success: The top 8 things you can do right now to build your personal resilience.

Note: There was a formatting error when this was first posted. It has been corrected here. The most recent post is here.

Debbie and I have been immersed in resilience training for decades, and we agreed to make a list of the top five or so actions we would recommend if someone asked us to outline a basic project to improve their resilience. There was a lot of overlap between our lists, but, blending them, we ended up with eight instead of five.

These methods are supported by scientific evidence, and also by our personal experience. They are definitely worth a try. Typically, they are also enjoyable.

  1. Think back on what has helped succeed in pulling out of stress in the past. Make a list of things that worked, and begin doing those things regularly.
  2. Review our list of things other people have found effective in recovering from stressful days. Select one or two to try for yourself. Don’t just put the list in a drawer! Really try them out.
  3. Learn how to relax deeply. For a start, download the free relaxation audio we provided at the end of our earlier post on deep relaxation. Listen to it several days each week for at least two weeks.
  4. If you haven’t been exercising regularly, pick an exercise method that appeals to you and do the exercise several days per week for at least two weeks. If possible, find someone you like spending time with and invite them to join you. Or bring along an energetic pet.
  5. Take a Problem Solving attitude toward problems, stressors and frustrations. Solutions that lead to success may be nearer at hand than you think.
  6. Seek out people who make you feel better about yourself or who are good models of resilience. Find a way to spend time with them.
  7. Select an easy, relaxing method of deep controlled breathing and use it several times a day. Then use it when you really need it.
  8. When you find yourself with a self -critical attitude or thinking negatively
  • It’s no time to start reviewing your failings when you are having trouble dealing with distress. Re-focus on problem solving. What can you do right now to make things better? What path has promise as a path to success. Check tip number 5 above.
  • Don’t just roll over and accept self- criticism or negative thinking. Imagine what a defense attorney might do to challenge them, and be your own defense attorney. Defense attorneys interpret what their clients do in the best way possible. It’s a perspective that you should at least consider. It is probably more sensible than the often nutty negative thoughts most of us come up with under stress.
  • Learn to accept yourself through a method of meditation, like mindfulness meditation, that emphasizes acceptance and self-compassion.

We have previously said a lot about many of these things, as you will see if you click the links in this post. We will have more to say about the rest later.

Try out some of them, and let us know your results.

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