March 27, 2023
By Dr. Nefertiti Poyner
As adults, we want to be happy and to achieve in life. But where do we start? Life comes at us and knocks us down at times. We have to pick ourselves up and keep moving forward. But how do we do that? You might know people in your own life who have faced great risk but continue to find success and happiness despite the odds against them. They have resilience, the ability to “bounce back” from misfortune or change. Resilient people tend to have something in their lives that helps them overcome challenges and move on in positive ways. The strengths that help resilient people bounce back are protective factors. Protective factors can be strengthened throughout life, and there are four key protective factors which all adults should continually nurture: relationships, internal beliefs, initiative, and self-control. Our team wants to help you do that!
We invite you to participate in a five-week Resiliency Challenge, where we will focus on those four key protective factors, and help you promote your own resilience – which we like to call “building your bounce.” Start by reflecting on your resilience and protective factors as they are right now by completing the Devereux Adult Resilience Survey (DARS), and then dive into the five weeks of challenges.
Week 1: Relationships Challenge
One way you could build upon your relationships is to provide support to others. Helping others is a benefit to them and to you. When you lend a helping hand or a listening ear to someone, you can experience increased energy and warmth. Supporting others can open our minds and can bring self-worth, greater happiness, and optimism. Even the smallest efforts can have great rewards.
Choose a “family member of the week,” and ask everyone else in the family to do special things for that person every day this week, such as make their favorite dessert, leave them a nice note or text message, or give them extra hugs.
If you enjoy this one, keep going! Start a rotation and have a different family member of the week every week.
Week 2: Internal Beliefs Challenge
One way to build upon your internal beliefs is to have hope or be more open to hope. When you have a sense of hope, you have positive feelings about the future. You tend to look at life more optimistically. When negative things happen and you are feeling hopeful, you can more easily bounce back and look for ways to get the support and help you need.
Gratitude helps us take notice of all the things that happen each day that are special and rewarding: when your baby smiles at you, when your kindergartener claims that you are the cuddliest mother, or when your teenager comes home to tell you about the raise they received at work. These everyday moments are priceless, and when we pay attention and feel the gratitude, we are filled with joy and hope. This is turn helps us to weather the hard times in life a little more easily.
Grab some scratch paper and a pen or pencil and write down a list of a few things or people for which you are grateful. Once you’ve written down your list, make time to really reflect on how you feel inside when you think of the things or the people on that list.
Week 3: Initiative Challenge
“Laugh, and the whole world laughs with you.” – Ella Wheeler Wilcox
Believe it or not, laughing contributes to your level of initiative. One of the greatest joys we have is laughter. It is a marvelous gift that also releases chemicals in your brain that can enhance your day and reduce your stress. Laughter is a wonderful gift to share with children, parents, and co-workers. Laughter and a sense of humor have also proven to be a great protection in times of difficulty.
Get a few co-workers, friends, or family members to join you in this strategy! The goal is to exchange a joke or a funny story or a situation each day that will make everyone laugh or smile. Once a week, identify the person who will post a joke, funny image, or story in a common area. Bathrooms and kitchens make great places for this humorous addition.
Week 4: Self-Control Challenge
Need to improve upon your self-control? Healthily expressing one’s emotions is one way to do it. For many of us, talking about feelings and emotions does not come easily. Emotions, however, are an important and valuable part of life. They guide us and connect us to others. Our emotions often give us energy and hope. When not channeled appropriately, our emotions can also cause us to behave in an inappropriate manner.
An effective way to express your emotions can be by listening to – and singing along with – music. Find songs that speak to how you feel. Pop, rock and roll, R&B, rap, country, and (of course!) the blues all lyrically express different feelings and emotions you may be feeling. So find the songs that work for you, and sing your heart out!
Take it one step further and create a playlist on your phone, and title the playlist the emotion you are feeling. That way, if/when you ever feel that way again, you can just go right to your playlist.
Week 5: The Final Challenge
The experience of reflecting on your resilience and taking action to make some changes for yourself does not end here. Building resilience is an ongoing process. Life will bring uncertainty and joy, and when we are resilient, we begin to embrace it all and live life to the fullest. Be the resilient person you are meant to be, and keep building your bounce.
Share this challenge with at least five people in your life! That’s it…that’s the challenge for this fifth and final week of our Resiliency Challenge. Why not share? We could all use more resilience, that’s for sure. If you want an added challenge, check in with the people you share this with, and reflect with one another on how this challenge has impacted you.
Remember…your resilience-building journey doesn’t stop here. Feel free to keep coming back to this challenge, or if you want more challenges, grab a copy of Building Your Bounce: Simple Strategies for a Resilient You.
Nefertiti is an early childhood specialist and national trainer with the Devereux Center for Resilient Children, and is co-author of two resources: (1) Building Your Bounce: Simple Strategies for a Resilient You, and (2) Socially Strong, Emotionally Secure: 50 Activities to Promote Resilience in Young Children. She previously worked as a preschool and kindergarten teacher in the city of Philadelphia.
Note: Content taken and slightly adapted from Building Your Bounce: Simple Strategies for a Resilient You.