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Introduction to Emotional Resilience

Harry Mills, Ph.D. & Mark Dombeck, Ph.D.

Stress is a fact of modern life - seemingly everywhere and all the time. There are so many sources of stress: caring for children, disabled persons and elderly parents, holding down a job, and making time for a social life are all everyday sources of stress. Added to these everyday stresses are extraordinary events such as deaths, serious illnesses, natural disasters and social upheavals that often occur randomly and without warning. It is easy to become frustrated by the great number of pressures that consume you on any given day. Over time, the cumulative effects of multiple stressors, small and large, can combine to wear you out before you've had a chance to get started.

Stress can overwhelm your defenses despite you best efforts at coping. In the short term, you may lose your temper, your blood pressure may soar, and you may even feel sick to your stomach. Over the longer term the cumulative nature of stress can keep you on edge long after individual stressful events have passed, and can even contribute to medical problems. For example, unresolved and lingering stressful feelings of anger, hostility and aggression appears to make the development of heart disease and arteriosclerosis (hardening of the arteries) more likely to occur.

There is no escaping stress, but there are ways you can learn to handle stress better when it is present, and to 'bounce back' faster from its impact. The collection of skills, characteristics, habits and outlooks that make it possible to remain maximally flexible and fresh in the face of stress is often referred to as "emotional resilience", which is the topic of this document. Learning to become more emotionally resilient can dramatically improve your attitude and your health in the face of inevitable stress.

Read on to learn about emotional resilience -- what it involves, how it is accomplished, and how you can become more emotionally resilient yourself. 




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