Enhancing Resilience as We Age
Resilience, as defined by the American Psychological Association, is the ability to adapt well in the face of adversity, trauma, or significant stress. As we age, resilience becomes increasingly important. It's not just about surviving difficult experiences, but about adapting and thriving to emerge stronger and integrate the lessons learned.
Why is resilience important as we age?
It's born out of the 'paradox of old age’ in which, despite physical declines and losses, older adults often report feeling content and have lower rates of psychopathology than the general population. This resilience contributes to healthier, happier individuals and communities.
So, how can we enhance our resilience as we age? Here are some practical steps:
Get Connected: Building strong, positive relationships with loved ones and friends can provide needed support and acceptance in both good and bad times. Volunteering or joining a faith or spiritual community can also establish important connections.
Make Every Day Meaningful: Having a sense of purpose can help you find meaning in life’s challenges. With a defined purpose, you’ll be more motivated to learn from past experiences and keep going.
Learn from Experience: Reflect on how you’ve coped with hardships in the past. Consider the skills and strategies that helped you through rough times. Writing about past experiences in a journal can help identify behavior patterns and guide future behavior.
Remain Optimistic: Accepting change is easier if you remain optimistic and hopeful about your life.
Take Care of Yourself: This includes getting enough sleep, eating a nutritious diet, and engaging in regular physical activity.
Embrace Change: Flexibility is an essential part of resilience. By learning how to be more adaptable, you’ll be better equipped to respond when faced with a life crisis.
Be Proactive: Don’t ignore your problems. Instead, figure out what needs to be done, make a plan, and take action.
Maintain Perspective: Even when facing painful events, try to consider the stressful situation in a broader context and keep a long-term perspective.
Nurture a Positive View of Yourself: Believe in your abilities and strengths.
Seek Help When Needed: It's okay to ask for help. You don't have to do it all alone.
By practicing these steps, we can enhance our resilience, leading to a more empowered, engaged, and resilient life as we age.
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