Coping with Adversity


When you cope with adversity, what does that mean? It means that you effectively deal with a very difficult situation; it means you either work through, or work around problems in a way that keeps your life in balance. It also means you have developed tools and tactics that help you respond to the emotions that adversity stirs up.

What’s adversity?
Adversity can be anything, can come up anytime, and touches everyone at some point in life.  It can be a temporary thing like a natural disaster, dealing with a break-up or concerns about money, or something long lasting like a physical disability or poverty. Adversity can come from outside sources (for example, prejudice or bullying) or from within (such as struggling with depression or anxiety). Adversity can come from people you love (difficulties in your family after parents’ divorce) or from people you don’t know (someone breaks into your car or your laptop gets stolen).

How do you face adversity?
There are many ways to cope effectively with adversity.  When you’re faced with a hard or unexpected situation, remind yourself that you have choices – you get to choose your attitude, you can ask for help, and you can often find alternatives. You don’t have to be stuck.

When you’re faced with adversity, it’s usually helpful to see the positive in your situation and to believe that things will work out – in this case, humor and creativity go a long way toward soothing your sadness or frustration and helping you cope.  Whenever you face hard times, it’s always helpful and important to reach out to loved ones and people you trust – they can give you guidance, support and comfort – being connected to others makes you stronger.

Another good tactic is to stay away from situations and information that make you feel helpless – the “noise” and stress of the world can have a direct impact on your frame of mind.  It’s usually helpful to stay busy and distract yourself with things that give you pleasure and keep your mind occupied. Of course, it is always very important and helpful to take care of yourself – good physical health has a positive effect on emotional health.

And here is something to consider: facing adversity in our lives is also a chance to learn important life skills. We will all experience some adversity.  Learning to manage small setbacks and challenges as we grow up helps provide the emotional and life tools for handling other challenges as we get older.

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