Building Resilience in your Life with a High Five and a Good Laugh!
How many times a day do you encounter someone who asks you how you are doing? Wearing a frown and furrowed brows, they wait expectantly for your response. Usually, we have practiced the script well enough to flawlessly deliver that rehearsed line- “Yeah. I’m okay. How are you?” The truth is that most of us find ourselves somewhere on the spectrum of not very good to downright crappy at some point during our days and weeks. However, that response deftly avoids any confrontation about how we are truly feeling with the hope that our “okay” will be accepted as good enough. The script, of course, lies.
Studies show that roughly seventy-eight percent of adults in North America are stressed or anxious most days and millions of people are living with conditions ranging from mild to severe depression. Many more are in the process of learning to manage their depression or anxiety, but still do not have all the tools they will need to actively manage their symptoms. Research shows that only 10 percent of people with mild depression receive any form of treatment and this is even less for people who have chronic forms of depression – less than five percent get any kind of treatment.
Humans are social animals, and as a result have evolved in a very particular way. We develop our personalities and behaviour from early in life by observing our interactions with others. Our likes and dislikes are formed through any of the following five ways of relating: values, opinions, beliefs, attitudes or expectations (Robert Cialdini, 2003). We develop and adopt these preferences based on what we observe in our family, friends, neighbourhood and society. Over time these learned responses become part of who we are. They dictate our thoughts and actions, as well as shape our reality – which makes these social conditioning mechanisms pretty powerful.
However, there is a flip side to having a well-developed personality; it can also lead to a lot of distress if it doesn’t match up with our expectations.
So how do we build our resilience and stay positive when we face testing times?
1. Find humour in the little things – a funny Netflix show or YouTube video can provide hours of laughter.
Laughter is one of the best ways to lower your stress levels. Laughing can release endorphins, which are hormones that make you feel good. Laughter causes a few changes in your body, like increased heart rate and changes in brain activity.
Laughing also helps you think better—studies have shown that people who laugh before taking an IQ test score higher than those who do not laugh before the test.
Laughing at a funny movie or TV show can give you a break from your worries and make you forget about whatever is bothering you. It also helps you make new friends. Studies have shown that people tend to be funnier and more charming when they are surrounded by happy people.
Laughing at jokes can also help you develop your social skills. Studies show that people who tell funny jokes are better at making small talk than those who don’t, and they are better at getting along with other people.
It is important to find humour in the little things. Laughter is an excellent release for anxiety and stress. Netflix and YouTube have tons of funny movies and shows that can provide hours of laughter. Finding hobbies that make you laugh can be a great way to keep your spirits up during tough times.
2. Be your own best cheerleader – find something you’re good at and focus on what you can do better than anybody else!
The most important thing to do is to be your own best cheerleader. You need to realise where you fall short and instead focus on the things you are good at or can excel in. This will allow you to find something that may not have thought of previously, but it now can be a door opener to your future happiness. It does not matter what it is, whether it’s fixing cars or cooking dinner with the family- just keep practicing and being positive about who you are. Give yourself a pat on the back often when you get those little wins!
3. Put on your favourite song and dance with reckless abandon – it doesn’t matter if it’s to Taylor Swift or Mozart, music is always uplifting!
Listening to a favourite song can lower stress by making the brain release dopamine. The dopamine activates our feel-good neural system and increases the levels of feel-good neurotransmitters in our brain, which help make memories happier. This gives you more control over certain emotions that may be causing you stress. Listening to your favourite song also engages your attention so that cognitive load decreases because you have less time to worry about things.
4. Stretch yourself in new ways – take on new challenges that force you out of your comfort zone for positive change!
If you’re feeling stagnant in your life, or if there are things that make you nervous and anxious, try to expand outside of your comfort zone. There’s a good chance that you won’t know all the details about something new before taking on the activity. So what? That’s the best part! You have to be willing to embrace change. A little bit of uncertainty will be a refreshing change from your usual routine. There is nothing more empowering than trying new challenges for positive change! It might not go as planned at first but it will teach you something new and lead to something beneficial in your life. And even if it doesn’t work out as planned, humans tend not to remember failed experiences– they just remember how they felt when they were trying something new.
It’s OK to be nervous! You just need to adjust yourself to do the activity at hand. And you might feel silly taking on a challenge you’ve never attempted before–but you might realise that it’s actually not so hard, or it will give you a good insight into the world around you! There are so many great benefits in just attempting new things. Give yourself a high five when you make a mistake or overcome an obstacle on the way to your goals.
5. Phone a friend – have a chat and a laugh. Don’t sit alone.
Human beings are social animals. We all need to be with people every now and then, so we can be healthy. If you think about it, laughing is one of the best things in life so why not live it up by chatting on the phone with your friends! It will brighten your mood up and make you feel more human. Having a chat on the phone also helps you to avoid distractions because it forces you to focus on the conversation at hand rather than on what’s going on around you.
The more you talk to people, the more you’ll realise just how much you can end up learning about yourself through others. We tend to share things with our friends about what’s going on in our lives and then we start reflecting on them.
In the end, there’s no way to predict what will happen in life. We can only take it one day, one step at a time. Happiness is built with small moments, and so take this opportunity to make better memories by building your resilience! If you feel down on yourself then find something about yourself that you can be proud of or make note of the people who are always there for you ― it doesn’t matter if they’re family members or friends.
At the end of the day we all need reminders about all the great things we do have rather than focussing only on what’s lacking.