When things in life get tough, what do you do? Just keep swimming! Through life’s challenges I often hear the voice of Dory from Disney’s Finding Nemo singing, “Just keep swimming, swimming…What do we do we swim, swim, swim,…” Dory is the voice of resiliency in my life!
Resiliency is one’s ability to roll with the punches. When stress, adversity, or trauma strike, one with resiliency is able to experience anger, grief, and pain, but they are still able to keep functioning both physically, mentally, and emotionally. Resiliency does not mean ignoring your emotions but rather acknowledging them and gaining the ability to control your emotions, not allowing them to control you. The great thing is that even if we find that our ability to bounce back and keep swimming has been lacking in the past, resiliency is a skill that we can practice and strengthen. So how do you strengthen resiliency? Our resiliency curriculum, Back on Track*, suggests 6 ways to help you develop your resiliency skill.
· Get Connected – Building strong, positive relationships with loved ones and friends can provide you with support and acceptance through the good times and the bad.
· Make Every Day Meaningful – Do something that gives you a sense of accomplishment and purpose every day. Set goals to help you look toward the future with meaning.
· Learn From Experience – Think back on how you’ve coped with hardships in the past. Consider skills and strategies that helped you through rough times before.
· Remain Hopeful – You can’t change what’s happened in the past, but you can always look toward the future. Accepting and even anticipating change makes it easier to adapt and view new challenges with less anxiety.
· Take Care of Yourself – Tend to your own needs and feelings, both physically and emotionally.
· Be Proactive – Don’t ignore your problems or try to wish them away. Instead, figure out what needs to be done, make a plan and take action.
Practicing resiliency each day can strengthen your ability to keep swimming through life’s small struggles and large stressors. In challenging times, my inner Dory gets fainter, but I work to strengthen that voice, to strengthen my resiliency. Through getting connected, making each day meaningful, learning from your experiences, remaining hopeful, taking care of yourself, and being proactive you can keep swimming and moving forward in life.
-Bethany McNeely, staff therapist
*Back on Track, written by Mary Ortwein, Sharon Bryant, and Benita Peoples, is a curriculum developed through our work with people in a wide range of life situations to help them bounce back by being real, relaxed, responsible, and resilient.