Resilience After 9/11

This week on September 11, Americans commemorated the 11th anniversary of the horrendous terrorist attacks on the homeland. The same day, violence was again directed at Americans, this time at a consulate and an embassy. While terrorists may believe these assaults will break the will and spirit of America, the people have instead broken through a wall of despair and responded with resilience and determination.

What are some of the ways we all have meet these challenges? Monday we focused on two ways to help build resilience – drawing on your strength and moving away from worry and fear. Here are 5 more tips to help you devise a strategy to bounce back and increase your coping skills when you have faced a traumatic event:

Reach out to others for support. When you nurture connections with others, you create resources for yourself. Your family and friends are there for you to help in periods of stress as well as to celebrate good times. It’s not a sign of weakness to ask for help but rather a step towards greater strength.

Direct your actions to control what you can. You may not be able to change the cause of the event but you can decide how you’ll react to it. You can revise and redirect your goals to ones that are more amenable to your influence. As your new efforts begin to have an effect, you’ll gain a greater degree of satisfaction and competency.

Add activities that decrease your stress. Many of us find that exercise significantly reduces negative emotions and improves feelings of well-being. Even twenty-minutes of a brisk walk kicks in positive feelings lasting for hours. What else helps you relax and feel better? Deep breathing? Employing positive imagery or meditation? Listening to music or reading a good book? Going out with friends? Give yourself permission to take more time for these.

Put things in perspective. When the current situation seems entirely hopeless, frame it in the specifics of the difficult event. As you consider other circumstances – before, after and surrounding that incident – you’ll find more positive areas of your life. Remind yourself that you’ve overcome tough challenges before and that the future looks brighter.

Foster an optimistic outlook. As you do, it’s easier to trust and believe in yourself and what works for you. That makes for a greater likelihood that you’ll take actions to move in a positive direction. As you take better care of yourself, you’ll grow stronger in your ability to engage in the process of positive change.

Many people find that overcoming adversity actually spurs them on to achieve a higher level of confidence and self-worth. They often grow into a greater appreciation of life and closer relationships with family and friends as well as a stronger spiritual connection. So even though traumatic events or losses may initially leave you feeling vulnerable, believe that you can learn to come back from the hard times with resilience and even thrive.

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