For almost two decades, Dr. Stephen Southwick, professor of psychiatry at the Yale School of Medicine, and Dr. Dennis Chaney, Dean at Ichan School of Medicine, have been studying what makes some people “bounce back” faster than others after a traumatic or stressful experience. Their main conclusion is that having a set of learned skills, not a disposition or personality type, helps people thrive during and after hard times.
Some tips to help strengthen your resiliency are:
- develop a core of set beliefs that nothing can shake,
- try to find meaning in whatever stressful or traumatic thing has happened,
- try to maintain a positive outlook, and
- take cues from someone who is especially resilient.
Other helpful tips are to attempt to face your fears instead of running from them, and remember not to beat yourself up over or dwell on the past.
While all of these tips can help strengthen your ability to bounce back during a particularly tough time, finding the one that works for you is the key to being able to bend rather than break. Whether that is finding an exercise plan that works with your life style (exercise helps the development of new neurons which are damaged by stress according to Southwick) or facing your fears for the first time, there are several ways to strengthen your mind to be able to cope better with stressful events.
Read more about training the brain to be more resilient in the June 2015 issue of Time magazine.