The Chaplain's Notebook


At some point, and at different times, we will eventually encounter some type of distress in our daily life. Everything is going great, and then it happens. It could be an unexpected financial matter, a health emergency or some work-related issue that could affect our livelihood. Such circumstances may drive us to the point of becoming disheartened, depressed or anxious.
Ask yourself: Do you have the ability to bounce back from a setback, or do you fall apart?

Bouncing back is a sign of resilience. Resilience can be defined as one’s ability to adapt to a setback or misfortune. This resilience helps us to harness the inner strength that helps us recover from any situation that the world may throw at us. A lack of resilience might cause one to dwell on a particular problem, create an attitude of victimization, turn to unhealthy coping or substance abuse, initiate or foster unhealthy relationships and/or become overwhelmed.

Having resilience does not make our problems go away, not at all, but it can help us see past our problems. It can help us continue to find enjoyment in this life and allow us to better handle stressors.

How does one adapt and become more resilient?

Once again, resilience can be defined as one’s ability to adapt to adversity. It is a skill that can be improved, but not on your own. Part of the ability to become resilient is knowing when to ask for assistance. It is completely normal to feel anger, to feel grief from a loss or to feel pain from disappointment or hurt. In your chosen profession, however, you are still expected to function and perform.

Here are some tips that may help in building up our resilience:

Remain hopeful. You can’t change what happened in the past, but you can look forward. Try not to get too worked up about the future. Learn to accept and maybe even anticipate change. This could make it easier to adapt to those changes when they come.

Try to stay connected. Draw close to loved ones. Try to build on positive relationships. These relationships can be a source of acceptance, guidance and support during difficult times.

Make every day meaningful. Try to accomplish something daily and live with purpose. This can be accomplished by setting achievable goals. Learn from experience and recall how you successfully dealt with hardship in the past. Consider the skills and strategies you used.

Take care of yourself. Enjoy hobbies and healthy activities. Regular exercise, plenty of sleep and a healthy diet are all great ways to start. Finally, try to practice stress management and learn to relax. Be proactive: Don’t ignore problems. Figure out what needs to be done, have a plan, take action and re-evaluate if needed. Remember that when we get through a traumatic event, we usually emerge much stronger. We just need to get there. Asking for help is a sign of strength and wisdom.