The greatest challenge is stating the problem in a way that will allow a solution.

Wednesday, October 5, 2011

How To Find Greater Resilience

Finding The Bright Side Can Equal Greater Resilience:

When dealing with challenges in life, we tend to find situations more stressful if we have less control over our circumstances. Often, we may feel that we have virtually no control in some of the situations we face, but we always have some control over our responses to these situations. the one thing we can control is our thoughts. We can control our thoughts, and on what we focus on in any situation, which can help control how we react.

Because the body's stress response is triggered by perceived threats as opposed to objectively verifiable ones, we know that shifting our focus away from seeing every stressor as a threat, and toward seeing stressors as challenges or even potential opportunities, can make a significant difference in how stressed we feel. However, it can be difficult to find a way to alter our thoughts and patterns of thinking about things, especially when stressed. It helps to know what to do.

That's where positive psychology research can help. One study in particular shed some light on a few areas of how to change your perspective and feel less stress and depression. The study, built upon previous research that showed that finding the hidden benefits in a difficult situation can be an effective way to reduce depressive symptoms and associated stress, examined a couple of unique ways to achieve this state of mind. Specifically, the researchers looked at two routes to gaining a 'benefit-finding' frame of mind: optimism, and maintaining a good mood (also known as 'positive affect') in patients who had been diagnosed with MS. In this randomized clinical trial, 127 MS patients were given telephone counseling, and assessed at the beginning of the study, at 8 weeks, and 16 weeks into counseling sessions, using four separate assessments. After adjusting for time since MS diagnosis and type of treatment, assessments affirmed that decreased depression was associated with increased benefit-finding over time, and that benefit-finding was affected by both increased positive affect and increased optimism. This study not only affirms that finding the positive in a negative situation can indeed bring real benefits for mood, but sheds some light on effective ways of altering your perspective long-term.