Stress, change, and resilience

The news is not good... light bulb

While recent news events (Lehman, Merrill Lynch, AIG, market plunge) are not cause for celebration, neither are they cause for complete panic.  Even among those tens of thousands of people who have lost, or will lose, their jobs in these firms, a key differentiator between individuals and how they cope with stress and significant change is RESILIENCE.
What is resilience exactly?
Resilience is the process of adapting well in the face of adversity, trauma, tragedy, threats, or even significant sources of stress -- such as family and relationship problems, serious health problems, or workplace and financial stressors. It means "bouncing back" from difficult experiences.
Factors & Strategies
A combination of factors contributes to resilience. Many studies show that the primary factor in resilience is having caring and supportive relationships within and outside the family.

Several additional factors are associated with resilience, including:
  • The capacity to make realistic plans and take steps to carry them out
  • Accepting yourself (warts and all) and having the ability to articulate and appreciate your strengths and skills
  • The capacity to manage strong feelings and impulses
Top 3 ways to bolster resilience

1. Universalize your experience. Talk to others who may be having similar experiences, reactions, feelings.  Nothing helps in the short-term more than knowing you are not alone.

2. Take decisive actions. Act on adverse situations as much as you can. Take decisive actions, rather than detaching completely from problems and stresses and wishing they would just go away.

3. Look for opportunities for increased self-awareness. People often learn something about themselves as a result of their struggle with stress, change, and even loss. Often, downsized employees are given opportunities to receive "outplacement services" where they spend time revisiting (and increasing their understanding of) their professional strengths, skills, and values.
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Michael Klein PsyD