Take this quick, utterly unscientific quiz:
1. Your son or daughter moves across the country, taking your grandchildren 2,500 miles away.
a. Become depressed, cry, lose sleep?
b. Cry a bit, then begin searching online for fun places to take your grandkids when you visit in three months?
If you answered “a,” your response is totally understandable; change can be stressful, and nests can feel very empty indeed.
If you answered “b,” you might be what psychologists refer to as “resilient.” Your greater ability to cope with stress and change may just help you live longer.
Resilience is the ability to handle stressful situations more easily and with greater calm and confidence. It’s what helps us adapt to changing circumstances–job changes, moves, loss of a spouse, illness. The quicker we can adapt and move on, the more resilient we are.
As the American Psychological Association (APA) says, resilience doesn’t mean you don’t get stressed or sad or angry or fearful; resilience is the ability to move through the negative and stay focused on the positive.
Remember “Keep Calm and Carry On”? It might as well be the mantra of the resilient because that’s, in a nutshell, what resilient people do.
In stressful situations, people who are resilient:
Resilience, says Harvard Health, is one of the hallmarks of longevity. People with resilience, not surprisingly, suffer less from depression. Those on the opposite end, who suffer chronic stress and anxiety, tend to have high blood pressure, sleep disorders, poor immunity, digestive issues, and heart disease.
Considering how stressful midlife can be with aging parents, retirement worries, and relationship issues, there’s rarely a time you’ll need resilience more.
But menopause, with its constant changes and unpredictability, can test our resilience like nearly nothing else. How can you be positive, confident, and calm when you’re worried about hot flashes, heavy period flows, and emotional outbursts?
Chances are, you’re already exercising resilience. And “exercising” is the right word here, because resiliency, like a muscle, can be strengthened and developed with practice.
If you’re in or have been through the perimenopause > menopause transition, “resilience” is where you live.
Headaches, fatigue, joint pain, hot flashes, mood swings, rage, anxiety, depression: some women get a few, some get ‘em all, but most of us deal with at least one or two, and sometimes for years at a time.
There aren’t a lot of great solutions that we feel good about: hormone replacement may be effective, but it’s off the table for some and worrying for others. Herbs, acupuncture, foregoing sugar, wine, coffee, and exercising all can be helpful, but even the healthiest lifestyle may not eliminate the symptoms entirely.
So what do women do; what have we always done? We rely on resilience. Here’s how we do it and how you can exercise your resilience muscle to make it stronger.
According to the APA, you build resilience by:
Resiliency can be learned, and it can be strengthened, but perhaps one of the best ways of finding that cool steel core in yourself is simply by knowing and believing that it’s there.
The next time you face a challenge that seems unbeatable, step back. Take a breath. Feel the strength you know is in you, bring the wisdom of your decades on earth to bear on the problem. Then, calmly and with grace and precision, kick its ass.