Life’s many challenges!

Life can be challenging. Whether it’s with difficulties in your relationships, obstacles in your job or career, or problems related to physical and mental health, we can all struggle. Yet research shows that one thing makes the difference between getting worn down or stressed out, and that is: resilience.

Resilience is simply the ability to adapt well when faced with adversity, trauma, or stress. No matter what life throws at you, people who exhibit higher levels of resilience have the ability to find a way to embrace life and thrive in the face of strong, painful, and often distressing emotions or events.

Luckily resilience is a skill you can build and nurture in your life. It takes some self discipline, but you can nurture and enhance a new way of embracing life, and all its challenges, by working on these skills:

How to Build mindful practices

You may have heard of mindfulness practices in yoga or meditation classes yet these same practices are used by the military and business because this system works. Mindfulness practices bring your attention away from your worries and back into the present moment through a series of exercises based on appreciating and noticing where you are and what you feel right now.

This may sound complicated, but give it a try. Start by integrating five minutes of mindfulness practices into your everyday life. You can follow a guided breathing meditation on YouTube, or use an app such as Headspace. You can also go for a walk and pay attention to each sensation in your feet, the wind in your hair, the smell of the flowers as well as the sounds you hear around you. You can also take a moment to focus your attention on the smells, sounds, and feelings of ordinary chores, for example, washing dishes or taking a shower.

Key factors are:
Maintain a focus on the present rather than the past or future.
Learning to see, listen and observe before making judgments of decisions.
Practicing ‘realistic’ reflection and assessment (this especially applies to ‘self awareness’

1) GRATITUDE
Increased gratitude is empirically associated with increased resilience.
Gratitude arises from ‘mindfulness’ (and good theology). Observing and being thankful.
Incorporating gratitude into daily reflection, prayer, journaling, self examination, etc,
Where possible building gratitude into conversation
Finding creative ways to make gratitude explicit: notes, cards, social media.

2) ACTS OF GENEROSITY AND KINDNESS:
Kindness arises from mindfulness; noticing reflecting and choosing to act.
Random Acts of kindness need to be separated from anticipated or expected acts of ministry.
They need to be actions we would not normally do or have the opportunity to do.
Cultivating spontaneity.

Key supportive relationships: * spouse * friendships outside ministry contexts and roles * two way * who we are as persons.

3) MENTAL GRIT
* Developing toughness in thinking, hard logic in planning and commitment to completion.
* Working on emotional regulation – applying emotional energy to constructive ends.
* Brain re-training – skills of focus, commitment, consistency, persistence can be learnt.

4) RESOURCES
• Knowing where and how to gain access to key resources
• * coaching, mentoring, accountability
• Relational support
• Wise Counsel
• Practical resources and know-how

5) FAITH
Secular research on resilience demonstrates that religious faith is associated with increased resilience. Religious people believe faith to be instrumental in experiencing real assistance from God
Faith supports people in adversity
Faith creates a sense of hope and gives meaning to adversity

How to Cultivate self-compassion/self care
People who are very resilient also cultivate and maintain practices that boost self-compassion. When they experience painful or stressful emotions, they don’t automatically view them as a personal defect which must be corrected, avoided, or controlled but rather as a signal or reminder that they need to attend to their own needs and feelings. They don’t judge or self-condemn if their needs and feelings merit attention and care. They simply know they are entitled to empathy and support, just like every other human being.

Self compassion begins by ensuring you get the basic things that keep you going and feeling well, like good food, exercise, sleep, and time with supportive friends. Then, when you are facing a challenge or experiencing a difficult time, think about the kind of advice, support, or care you give to close friends or family members when they are struggling and give yourself the same encouragement and understanding.