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Learn the FACTS of Resilience

A flood, tornado or other disaster may have turned your life upside down, but you can recover.

Resilience is the ability to bounce back from a natural disaster or other adversity and adapt well to changes in your life. You can learn to be resilient by developing ways to think and behave that help you cope and adapt to challenging situations successfully.

Here are five ways you can become resilient. They’re known as FACTS: foster hope, act with purpose, connect with others, take care of yourself and search for meaning.

To foster hope, you need to focus on the positive. When faced with difficulties, look for the positives instead of expecting bad things to continue happening. Visualize a future in which things are going well. Your life has positives, even in difficult times. A positive, optimistic outlook gives you energy to face difficult situations.

Having confidence in yourself is another part of fostering hope. You have overcome problems in the past, and other people have done it, too. Remember, you have the ability to learn and use resilience skills to deal effectively with stressful circumstances. Trust in your ability to cope successfully.

Also put things into perspective. You can’t always prevent bad things from happening, but you can control your reactions. Avoid seeing crises as insurmountable problems. Maintain a long-term perspective. Things won’t always be as they are now; change is a natural part of life. Notice small improvements in yourself and your situation as time passes.

Making a plan is a key part of acting with purpose. Identify the problem, brainstorm solutions, evaluate the suggestions, choose the best options and create an action plan. Take into account that changing circumstances may require you to abandon old goals and adopt new ones or use different strategies to reach your goals.

But having a plan is not enough; you need to move toward your goals by taking decisive steps to solve the problem. Try to focus on small, achievable steps rather than being overwhelmed by the magnitude of the situation. Avoid focusing on tasks that seem unachievable. Take time to celebrate your progress.

You also need to actively cope. A crisis will create strong emotions. You can cope with them in a number of ways, such as talking with someone you trust or writing your thoughts and feelings in a journal. Doing nothing, wishing your problems would go away, resorting to drugs or alcohol, becoming angry with others or blaming others won’t help.

Connecting with others by maintaining close, positive relationships with family and friends is a buffer against stress. Share your thoughts and feelings, and draw comfort and strength from the support of others.

Other ways to find the support you need include taking time for social activities with friends and family and becoming active in civic groups, faith-based organizations or other groups. Also accept the help offered to you and do what you can to help others.

Taking care of yourself means taking care of your body by eating nutritious foods, getting enough sleep and staying physically active. When your body is functioning properly, you feel better and are more able to face challenges.

Taking time to relax and nurturing your spirituality are two other important ways to take care of yourself. Relaxing activities give you a restful break and help you enjoy life, which makes you better able to deal with stressful situations. Activities such as meditation, religious practices or spending time in nature also can help you develop clarity of purpose and a sense of connection.

You just may learn something from your experience, too. Search for positive meaning in the crisis or challenge. Think about how you dealt with it and what you learned about coping and yourself. Remember what worked and what didn’t.

Our struggles with problems can give us positive growth, so look for changes in yourself, such as a renewed appreciation for life, closer relationships with family or friends, deeper spirituality or a greater perception of your inner strength.

For more information, visit www.redriverresilience.com.

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