1.Experience positive emotions: The experiencing of positive emotions, such as joy, gratitude, serenity, hope, pride and love during difficult times function as a buffer from stress, promotes problem solving flexibility, efficiency, creativity, well–being and opens your mind (Folkman & Moskowitz, 2000). Additionally, positive emotions ‘have direct, beneficial effects on physiological processes, including those involving the neuroendocrine, inflammatory, immunological, and cardioavascular systems’ (Fredrickson et al., 2003). Humor also plays an important role in promoting resilience. A good sense of humor is associated with optimism, reduces depression and increases self-esteem. Humor reduces stress, tension and restores the perceptions of the situation.
There are a few things you can do to experience more positive emotions in your life. You can choose to participate in enjoyable activities that will produce a more positive mood. Even if it lasts for short term is still beneficial to your quality of life. Physical activities are also associated with short-term increases in positive mood. Some people find reconnecting with nature a positive influence on their lives. Taking a break from the busy life and enjoying a peaceful walk on the beach or through a forest can be calming, pleasant and restore your sense of balance. Sharing positive enjoyable social interactions or altruistic behavior such as volunteer work also increase levels of happiness, satisfaction and positive mood.
Keep a journal of every positive event, comment, compliment, achievement, interaction, activity that occurs during the day. The writing and collecting of clusters of positive occurrences increases your cognitive focus on the positive rather than the negative. It also improves memory. In difficult times it is also beneficial to reread the journal and remind yourself of better and more positive experiences. Take yourself off the automatic pilot and focused more on what you are doing. Be more attuned to your emotions, thoughts, physical sensations and behavior. It can help you to become more conscious and experience life in a more profound and meaningful way. Being more attentive will also increase the chance that you will be able to notice that positivity still exists around you.
2.Effective problem solving: You cannot change the fact that you face adversity but you can change how you react to the adversity. Avoiding, ignoring, dissociating, denying and reacting in a self-destructive manner such as starting to drink alcohol, smoking or using drugs will not help and the situation will also increase its severity and intensity. Perceiving the adversity as impossible, unmanageable and enormous is self-defeating. Take control, make a decision, develop a plan and act on it. Active problem solving reduces anxiety, uncertainty, increases resilience and slowly improves your life. Analyze the problem/crisis and break it down to small manageable steps. Set realistic goals that will enable you to gradually and successfully cope with the problem. The small successes will improve your mood, determination, motivation and your resilience. Utilize every available coping strategy to achieve your goals.
3.Optimism: Having a positive outlook increases determination to overcome challenges and the willingness to actively change circumstances for a better future (Davis, 2009). Optimism involves the belief that the situation is not hopeless but a temporary setback and just another obstacle in the path for growth. Optimisms originate from the belief that we are able to create a change and a difference in our lives. The hope for the future and the belief that change is possible encourages us to try and increases our motivation and determination to overcome the adversity. Optimism involves the invision of a better future thus try to visual what life could be like, what you want and rather than focusing on what could go wrong and your fears focus on that vision and then think what you need to do, to not only visualize it but actually live it.
Bandura, A., & Locke, E. (2003). Negative self-efficacy and goal effects revisited. Journal of Applied Psychology, 88, 87-99.
Folkman, S., Moskowitz, J. T. (2000). Positive affect and the other side of coping. American Psychologist, 55, 647–654.
Davis, M. C. (2009). Building Emotional Resilience to Promote Health. American Journal of Lifestyle Medicine, 3, 1, 60S–63S.
Fredrickson, B. L., Tugade, M. M., Waugh, C. E., & Larkin, G. R. (2003). What Good Are Positive Emotions in Crises? A Prospective Study of Resilience and Emotions Following the Terrorist Attacks on the United States on September 11th, 2001. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 84, 2, 365-376.