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Optimize your resilience in challenging times

The news getting you down? Try a healthy dose of optimism for a change. Cultivating your optimism isn’t meant to negate the seriousness of your challenges, but it’s a tool to help you bounce back.

Resilience is a trait that can be learned. Even small steps when consistently performed increase hardiness. Because chronic stress accelerates the cellular aging process, develop daily habits that can bring you a positive perspective.

Build up your self care

Are you exercising? You don’t need a full workout. Try a short walk, bike ride or even a yoga stretch. When you feel yourself getting down, ask yourself: When did I last get some exercise?

Good friends

I cherish long-term friendships, so I prioritize meeting with at least one friend each week. It helps me know I have someone with whom to share a laugh or a painful moment. “A friend doubles your joy and divides your sorrows.”

Shake things up

When you feel yourself falling into a rut, try something new and different. Discover a new place to walk, go to a coffee shop, cook a new recipe or create some art.

Sleep it off

The older I get, the more I realize the effect of a good night’s sleep on my mood, creativity and energy. Feeling drained? Maybe you are not getting enough sleep.

Curate your screen time

Modern technology gives us the ability to witness horror and tragedy 24/7. No other generation has been granted the opportunity to see so much of the world while at home. Choose screen time wisely. There are comedy, educational, travel and dramatic offerings at our fingertips as well as the news.

Remember your successes

When you are feeling overwhelmed, remind yourself of other times you persevered through difficult challenges to bounce back. Psychologist Martin Seligman speculates that optimistic people depersonalize setbacks and see them as temporary and specific rather than permanent and pervasive. Altering your self-talk may give you the shift from a pessimistic to a healthy optimistic perspective. Optimism, like pessimism, can be infectious, so cultivating an optimistic perspective by taking small steps daily becomes easier over time.

Try this technique

Make two lists on separate sheets of paper. On one list write grievances, resentments and experiences that influence your anger, cynicism and pessimism.

On the other list make a note of areas in your life that help you experience gratitude, support, assistance and “lucky breaks” you received.

After writing the two lists, put one list in a drawer and the other on the fridge. Choose which list goes where. Which perspective will you focus on daily? Which viewpoint would you like to cultivate? Feel free to switch back and forth and experience the differences.

Coming up: Do you want to learn tips and techniques for revitalizing your resilience? Allan will give a free talk at 6 p.m. April 29, at the Ashland Food Co-op, 300 N. Pioneer St., Ashland.

Allan Weisbard has a master’s degree in social work and four decades of counseling experience. His website HealthyOptimism.com has tips, articles and strategies to increase your resilience. Rogue Valley residents are encouraged to send 600- to 700-word articles on all aspects of inner peace to Sally McKirgan innerpeaceforyou@outlook.com.