By: Alan Nahle, LCSW

How do you deal with a major setback? It isn’t too uncommon for life to throw some hardships our way now and then. When it does, people have different ways of mentally dealing with some of those hardships. Dealing with things like losing your job, someone close to you passing away, getting injured, or getting ill can be adamant, especially if they occur at a very bad time in life or if multiple hardships occur at the same time. While some can stay level-headed and emotionally well-managed during those times, many others find themselves drowning in stress, which negatively affects their mental health.

One key factor that affects someone’s ability to overcome a major setback is resilience. Resilience is a relatively common word but what does it mean? Resilience is the mental strength or toughness that someone develops by adapting to difficult situations and by eventually overcoming them, they become stronger and more likely to overcome difficult situations in the future. To put it more simply, it’s how good you are at dealing with things. Some people don’t know this, but it is something you can get better at over time.

So how do we increase our resilience? The biggest thing here is time. Building resilience is unfortunately a slow process, so being patient is important, but rest assured it’s worth it! Although we cannot control the time it takes to build resilience, there are several other factors we can.

One of the aspects of resilience you can control is your environment. Who do you surround yourself with? What is the environment at work like? Who do you spend most of your time with? These things all make up your environment throughout the day and a person’s environment significantly impacts their mental health. Having a strong, healthy, supportive group of people around you including a partner, friends, family, or anybody else that impacts your environment will greatly increase your resilience. This was heavily used by many people around the world during quarantine from COVID as many people felt heavy personal losses during that time. You should never face difficult challenges alone if you do not have to; having the right people by your side can make a huge difference. 

Another thing to look at is what is happening with us mentally when we experience a difficult setback or struggle. The two things to consider here are how we are coping with the experience emotionally, and the other is how we see the struggle (our perception of it). To see the struggle rationally, we need to make sure we are making our best efforts to stay emotionally well-regulated. This does not mean we are not allowed to express frustration or even anger, but how are we coping with those feelings? Journaling, meditative breathing, exercise, and other techniques can be very useful ways of staying emotionally well-regulated. Then there is our perception of the situation. How we see the problem is important because if we do not stay emotionally well-regulated, it can be easy to see the problem as too great to overcome and our motivation becomes heavily damaged. Instead of focusing on the parts of the situation that we cannot control, the idea is to identify things we can control to influence the situation or influence how we are getting through the situation. 

Utilizing coping mechanisms to stay emotionally well-regulated, identifying specific decisions that will positively impact yourself or the situation, and surrounding yourself with a strong environment of supportive people and things you like will all help you slowly adapt to difficult situations and make you well-equipped to handle difficult situations in the future.

If you or a loved one need professional support, our counselors at Mathews Counseling are available for appointments. Request to book today!


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