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Bounce back
Tips for managing the roller-coaster of life
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Karen Kyliuk
Jan/Feb 2018

Have you ever felt like life is a roller-coaster ride with ups and downs, twists and turns?

Well, you aren't alone. Life hits hard sometimes. No matter how much we try to avoid problems, big or small, they will come our way. Our ability to manage the roller-coaster of life is often referred to as resilience.

Psychologists describe resilience as adapting well and bouncing back from adversity. Recent research has expanded our understanding of resilience to include not only our ability to recover from setbacks but to actually embrace change, softening rather than fighting the hardships we face in life. Personal resilience is made up of skills and abilities that help us to steer through adversities in life. Research also shows a strong support system is one of the most important factors in personal resilience.

Having personal resilience doesn't mean you will never experience sadness, disappointment or even trauma. What it does mean is when life troubles come your way, you can mobilize supports and resources and use your personal resiliency skills to get through the temporary pain, uncertainty, or even despair of a situation. Without a resilient approach, you may experience reactions such as feeling overwhelmed, victimized or trapped.

The good news is resiliency skills can be learned and our resilience can be developed and strengthened over time.

Any surfer will tell you they are always looking for the next big wave to ride, but even surfers had to learn to develop that level of confidence and skill set to face such an intimidating force. Building your personal resiliency is just like this, it may take some time, self-reflection and practice, but in the end it will be well worth it.

Knowing your limitations is good; challenging yourself to build resilience is even better. There are several things you can do to enhance your personal resilience, including:

  • Make positive connections with people you trust; they will strengthen your resolve in times of need.
  • Recognize the temporary aspects of your current situation; this will lessen feeling overwhelmed.
  • Accept that change and challenges are a part of life.
  • Reflect on the specific problem that you are dealing with, explore potential solutions and work
    toward small successes.
  • Take an action approach; do something!
  • Look for life lessons or teachable moments in the hardship.
  • Nurture a positive view of yourself and acknowledge your efforts in dealing with challenges.
  • Maintain hope things will get better.
  • Take good care of yourself.
  • Reach out for professional help when needed.

Photo of three friends enjoying coffee

The first step is to recognize amid life's struggles, there are things you can do to be more resilient. Another step is to reflect on how we tend to view problems and in turn how this perception impacts us. Maintaining hope and a sense of optimism such as, "this, too will pass" or "I will deal with this the best way that I can right now" supports us to persevere when things seem grim.

As you practise viewing and resolving problems with resiliency in mind, you will begin to notice enhanced confidence in your ability to manage life struggles, to embrace challenges and to accept change. Nurturing your personal resilience as a part of your daily routine will help you prepare for what lies ahead in the unpredictable roller-coaster of life.

Karen Kyliuk is a mental-health resource and educator with the Winnipeg Regional Health Authority.