As part of our series on resiliencies in middle age, in this blog we look at the value of Emotional and Social Resilience and offer some tips on how to strengthen these abilities ahead of another busy (and possibly stressful!) holiday season.
First of all, understand that Emotional Resilience – the ability to handle tough situations – is partly affected by factors we can’t control such as age and previous exposure to trauma. However, there are ways to nurture those aspects you do have some say in, and to bolster your abilities to react to stress.
Middle age presents any number of unique challenges such as aging parents, college-bound children, health concerns, job changes and financial uncertainties. Each of these can contribute to raising our stress levels, so let’s examine the factors you can work to fortify by asking a few questions:
Awareness: Does stress get to you? Some of us feel overwhelmed or immobilized in times of stress; some of us are energized and motivated by the busy and unpredictable. Think about why you have the reactions you have, and reflect on what you want to do differently. Knowing what stressful moments or phases reveal about you is the first step toward strengthening your emotional and social resilience in trying times.
Response: How do you react when stressed? Once you are aware of whether stress energizes or depletes you, explore the various reactions you have in those demanding moments. While there are many aspects of stressful situations we can’t control, we can work to control how we respond to those situations – deep breaths instead of yelling, a pause instead of rushing around, quiet speech instead of a raised voice.
Perspective: What does stress look like to you? You’ve done the work to assess what stress feels like, now explore how you view a stressful development. Is it an obstacle, a setback? Or can you see a new opportunity and a positive challenge from a difficult turn? Putting a fresh lens on your outlook can help you battle feelings of defeat and boost your ability to withstand a trying time.
Humor: Are you able to smile at the smaller frustrations you encounter? Take this step once you’ve done the serious work of understanding why and how stress affects you. While not discounting significant issues that can tax our emotions and tire us, we can find some respite from stress by maintaining a sense of humor about the “small stuff” that challenges us.
Lastly but importantly: as you nurture and grow your Emotional Resilience make sure to hone your Social Resilience by reaching out to various support networks and interacting with them during stressful times.
Support: Who helps you cope with stress at home, at work, in your community? Reflect on the strength of your relationships and continue to grow a diverse network of personal and professional connections you can lean on during stressful times. Nurture bonds with individuals or groups that listen to you and provide you with positive feedback. Seek out those with whom you can share stories or similar interests to deepen your connections; established support groups can bolster both your emotional and social resiliencies on a deeper level, especially if you’re dealing with longer-term and more complex stressors related to health, home and family life, or work.
We’ve said it before: The Humphreys Group realizes there are many ways to build and flex your resiliency muscles. By tending to various forms of resiliencies you are able to maintain a healthy perspective on stress during middle age so that you can make measured and informed decisions about your next steps in work and life – wherever they may take you in the coming year.