Daily concerns like work, school, and family often keep us so busy that we have no time to think about other things. Natural disasters seem far away from everyday life; we spend very little time thinking about them. However, they are more real than we think: earthquakes and tornadoes happen all the time. Are you prepared to survive a natural disaster?
Here is a collection of tips on how to survive some of the most common types of disasters:
“Earthquakes are among the most destructive natural disasters. They occur mainly near the edges of tectonic plates, but they can happen just about anywhere. Earthquakes cannot be predicted, but your chances of survival are much better if you prepare in advance and you know what to do when an earthquake strikes.”
“Floods can strike quickly in many parts of the world. Surviving a flood is a combination of preparation and taking appropriate action as soon as the natural disaster begins.”
“It is often said that tornadoes are nature’s most violent storms, and for good reason. Not only do tornadoes carry winds up to 300 mph (480 km/h)–winds that can level buildings and carry cars through the air 80 feet (25 m) or more–they are also often accompanied by lightning, heavy rains (and flash floods), and hail. When a tornado strikes, your every choice can mean the difference between life and death.”
“A tsunami is a series of destructive and very dangerous waves that result from earthquake activity or some other type of underwater disturbance. In recent years, tsunamis have caused an incredible amount of damage. In order to survive a tsunami, you must be prepared, vigilant, and calm. This article sets out steps that can help you to survive a tsunami, provided you learn and act upon these steps in advance.”
“Volcanic activity can result in explosions called plinian eruptions that shoot rocks, ash, and gas hundreds of feet into the air. While not all types of volcanic eruptions are so dramatic, they can all be terrifying. Fortunately, most volcanoes are carefully monitored, and scientists can usually provide some advance warning before a serious event. But if you live near a volcano or get an opportunity to visit one, you are always at risk, and it’s important to know how to prepare for an eruption and escape one alive.”
“A drought occurs when there is a less-than-normal amount of rainfall over a range of time. Droughts can impact families by reducing items they depend on daily such as crops, livestock, trees, and hydroelectric power. Rivers and lakes are also dried up during long periods without rain, slowing down the trade industry by limiting barge and ship travel. Move on to Step 1 to start learning how to prepare for a drought.”
Resilience is not just about how we respond after something bad happens. It is also about how we make sure that bad things have a smaller effect on us when they do occur. That’s where preparation comes in…take a little time to think about and prepare for natural disasters!
Early in 2016, I joined a group called 52Frames. It’s an international group of photography enthusiasts who sign up to participate in a weekly challenge. I’m an amateur photographer, but I am a much better photographer now than I was when I joined the group. I’m also more resilient. Why? Because I’ve committed to doing something that regularly takes me out of my comfort zone. I’ve gone up to strangers and asked if I could take their picture. I’ve tried new equipment and techniques that felt awkward and unfamiliar. I’ve put photos out there knowing that others would look at them along with photos that are much better than mine. And I’m going to do it again in the coming year.
Every time you get out of your comfort zone, you build your resilience. When you commit to others to a regular activity or challenge, you increase the likelihood you’ll actually do it.
So I’m here to suggest that you find a weekly challenge that appeals to you, and find a group–or at least one other person–who is doing the same thing so you can share your results. The new year is a great time to start, but you can begin any time.
I looked around to find other challenges that you might be interested in, and I’ve thought of a few additional ones that might be fun to try. And, of course, you are welcome to make up your own. So here goes:
These sites have a community of other participants who share results with each other.
- Art: This site posts a weekly art challenge.
- Cooking: This site posts a weekly cooking theme.
- Baking: This site posts a weekly baking theme.
- Writing: This site posts a weekly writing challenge.
- Haiku: This site posts a weekly haiku prompt.
- Hiking: This site invites participants to do one hike each week.
- Songwriting: This site posts a weekly songwriting theme.
- Reading: This site invites participants to read 52 books in a year.
- Photography: This site posts a weekly photography theme.
These sites have lists of challenges or activities you can use, but don’t have a “live” group taking part.
- Organizing: This site presents a list of challenges related to organizing your home.
- The Environment: This site has a list of weekly challenges related to recycling and the environment.
- Savings: This site has a list of weekly challenges related to saving money, and this site describes a 52-week process for building a savings account with over $1300 in it.
- Salad: This site posts 52 different salad recipes, one for each week of the year.
- Genealogy Blogging: This site posts 52 challenges for genealogy bloggers.
- Life Story: This site posts 52 questions for you to answer in writing your life story.
- Running: This site lists 52 workouts for serious runners.
- Photography: This site lists 52 photography challenges.
- New Experiences: This site lists 3 years’ worth of 52 new experiences: 2011, 2012, and 2013. Lots of ideas to try! This site has a long “new experiences” to-do list. And here’s one more list of 52 new things to try.
And here are some other ideas that could make a 52-week challenge:
- Meet a new person.
- Reach out to someone you haven’t talked to in a while.
- Try a new exercise routine.
- Taste a new food, or cook with a new ingredient.
- Visit a different restaurant.
- Try a new craft project.
- Create a work of art.
- Drive or walk on a new road.
- Research an ancestor on your family tree.
Whatever challenge you choose, I encourage you to find at least one other person who will also take the challenge so you can share with each other and provide encouragement. I guarantee that you will have many chances to step outside your comfort zone. When you start feeling resistance or discomfort, and you push through and do it anyway, that’s a great sign that your resilience is getting stronger.
I look forward to hearing about your experiences! Please share them in the comments section of this blog.
The Christmas/holiday season can be difficult for many people. It offers many opportunities for using your resilience resources. What makes this a difficult time? How can you increase your ability to overcome the challenges the season may bring?
Why are the holidays sometimes difficult? Here are a few common reasons:
- Unpredictability. Work, school, and family schedules change during the holidays. You may be away from familiar people and routines. You might be traveling, or have visitors from out of town. Businesses and services you count on may be closed or have limited hours. All of these things lead to reduced predictability, and an increased need to adapt and adjust to different situations.
- Expectations.It’s easy to have unrealistic expectations about the holidays. If you envision a happy gathering with family or friends, where everyone loves the presents you got them and there is no disagreement or conflict, you are almost certain to be disappointed. If you have very little money, but feel that you are failing if you don’t buy nice things for everyone, you will either stress yourself out about not being able to afford what you want to get, or you will stress yourself out about the credit card bills you run up while buying things you can’t afford.
- Loneliness. Many people feel lonely at the holidays. You may be missing loved ones who are gone or far away; you may feel you don’t have any place to belong or anyone who cares about you. In a season where it seems that everyone else is surrounded by friends and family, both of these can feel especially difficult.
- Health. During the holidays, you may eat more—and less healthy—food than you usually do. You may drink more alcohol or coffee. You may also exercise less, get less sleep, and spend more time sitting down. All of these things reduce physical well-being and, because of that, make it harder to deal with challenges that you can usually manage with no problems.
What are some things you can do?
- Expect the unexpected. Yes, the holidays can be unpredictable. And as silly as it sounds, sometimes just reminding yourself that you are in the “unpredictability zone” can help. If you are aware that you are disconnected from daily routines and connections, and that this is likely to feel uncomfortable, you may be able to deal with it better. In addition, if you can think of ways to stay connected with what’s familiar (taking pictures of family or friends with you as you travel, waking up at the same time every day, etc.), this may help as well.
- Check your expectations.If you find yourself feeling disheartened or stressed, see if you can track the feeling back to an unmet expectation. Once you’ve done that you can decide whether the expectation is unrealistic and should be changed, or whether you need to work harder to meet it. It’s also important to recognize that you do not have to accept all the expectations other people have for you. It may not always be comfortable to reject others’ ideas about how you should look, feel, or live your life, but it’s a lot better than driving yourself crazy trying to be someone you are not.
- Reach out.If you are feeling lonely, taking an active step to connect with others can help. This might mean calling a friend or family member, volunteering for an organization that helps others, or finding someone else who is also feeling lonely and planning an activity. It is a very common experience to feel isolated at the holidays, and often the connection you make will be just as helpful to the other person as it is to you.
- Take care of yourself.You will be able to cope with challenges more effectively if your physical energy is strong. Think about what will be most helpful in making you feel healthy. Getting lots of sleep, making good food choices, drinking extra water, getting outside for a walk…whatever it is, make it a high priority for yourself. With more energy, challenges that might otherwise seem overwhelming are likely to look smaller and more manageable.
Recognizing the challenges that the holidays can bring and taking steps to deal with them will help you end the year on a more positive note. And joy is contagious. When you are feeling happier, you are likely to influence others to feel better as well. That’s the best gift you can give!
Sports injury can be serious physically. Moreover, it can be hard to overcome psychologically too, because no athlete wants to face the possibility of never being able to return to the sport again. For those who are injured or know someone who is, this entry will provide resources on how to handle sports injury and psychological problems it can cause. It will also give parents advice on how to treat their injured kids.
This article suggests 14 ways to overcome sports injury and setbacks, as well as some other good advices. I like it because it discusses each point clearly and tells the reader exactly what they should do. “It may be hard to sit on the sidelines or watch other people do the things you used to be able to. You have to find a new identity that is not just as an athlete or fitness-junkie. There is more to you than that, embrace it.”
For those who are experiencing psychological hardships because of sports injury, here are 2 articles on anxiety and depression. This blog talks about the anxiety during recovery. It makes suggestions for the athlete during recovery and rehabilitation, as well as for coaches and parents on what attitude they should hold toward the player. “Remember that after a sports injury, it’s normal to feel mild apprehension about recovery. It even serves a purpose by providing some protection from re-injury. However, if you feel persistent and intense fear, it can disrupt your return to the sport.”
This post focuses on overcoming depression after injuries. It discusses athlete depression in great details and suggests ways to cope with it. It also stresses that it is important for athletes to pay attention to their emotions so they can stay psychologically healthy. “Your mind races as you consider recovery time and the impact it will have on your game. But if the stress and frustration turns into long-term feelings of hopelessness, being upset about your injury could escalate to depression.
Finally, this article is from a mom of an athlete. She talks about how her overreaction towards her kid’s injury has taught her a lesson. She makes suggestions to parents on what they should do after injury so that their kids will not feel embarrassed. “All of this is not to say the subject of injuries in youth sports shouldn’t be taken seriously. They should. If a parent feels their child has been injured, especially if they suspect a head injury, my advice is to take every precaution for their health and safety.”
Last time, we discussed 4 things that are important for developing resilience in the face of sexual abuse. Today, we will continue with the other 4 essentials in building such resilience.
5. Helpful life circumstances. The environment we live in is also important in building resilience. It does not matter if the environment is positive or negative, but it has to be challenging enough to foster resiliency. As defined, resilience is the ability to deal with turbulence. By encountering challenge and overcoming them, we are building resilience naturally, as well as the sense of self-worth. With the resilience built from other challenges, we can use the skills to better deal with the stress from sexual abuse.
6. Coping strategies. In order to overcome an adversity, we must develop some kind of coping strategy. Some of the strategy, such as prayer, positive self-talk, setting limits and boundaries, or using symbols, are positive and healthy. However, some others, like drug and alcohol abuse or excessive smoking, are unhealthy. Nevertheless, all these coping strategies work if they could help us to get over the sorrow. It is important to realize whether the strategy we are using is healthy or not. If it is, then we should keep the habit so that it can further foster our resilience in the future. However, for those that are not healthy, we should try our best restrain from those behaviors and only use them to cope with serious stress when necessary.
7. Active healing. To heal from the trauma, we first need to directly confront the abuse or its memory. Then, we can pursue an active and conscious process of healing. When we admit the abuse and our sorrow, we will feel easier to talk about it with others. Group counseling can be helpful in that it allows us to share our story with people with similar experience. The group members understand each other better, and can thus provide better support than other people. Also, we can heal by having dreams that contain happy memories. This method can help us bring ourselves out of the sorrow. However, none of these can be achieved if we do not acknowledge the fact that the trauma has happened and we are sad.
8. Achieving closure. After all the healing process, it is necessary that we bring a closure to the negative experience. There are different means to achieve this, but a closure should end all the negative emotions associated with the event, such as pain, hatred, sorrow, and so on. A good way to achieve closure is to forgive, both ourselves and the abuser. By forgiving, we stopped letting the abuse defining us and controlling our behaviors and decisions. We have to understand sometimes it is just luck – the offender did not mean to hurt us personally. Forgiving can allow us to let go of the negative emotions and become more mature and resilient. Then, we can move on to the next chapter of our lives with better resilience.
This article was based on results from a research article.
Living in this turbulent world, we encounter different adversities. Some of them are easy to resolve, and some others take a lot longer. Sexual abuse can be one of the hardest adversities to overcome in life. Nevertheless, it happens to almost 1 in every 5 women in America. There are a lot of survivors who are willing to share their stories and to help those in need. This 2-part series will list 8 important things for those who would like to develop resilience in the face of sexual abuse-related trauma. Here are the first 4 essentials:
1. Interpersonal skills. Sense of community and support is one of many things that make humans different from other animals. When bad things happen, it is important that we connect with other people appropriately and meaningfully, so that we can have intimate and supporting relationships. With the support from loved ones, we can feel stronger and less lonely. Therefore, we should not be afraid of reaching out. We need to speak up when we have something to say, be enthusiastic and optimistic towards life and relationships, and look for appropriate support from the right people.
2. Competence. Focusing on something that we are good at and interested in is a good way to distance ourselves from unpleasant aspects of reality and to counterbalance the hardship we experience. Moreover, it gives us a sense of accomplishment and confidence, which can help increase our self-worth. This, in turn, gives us more power to deal with stress from unfortunate events. To develop a new competence, start by picking something you are interested in; then put regular effort into doing and practicing the activity. Most importantly, you need to make sure that you always experience joy when doing the hobby so that it serves its role as a resilience builder.
3. High self-regard. How we think about ourselves shapes our resilience as well. In order to conquer adversity, we have to believe that we are worthwhile, and deserve to live a happy and positive life. We have to realize that we are not defined by luck, nor by other people, or what has happened to us. With high self-regard, we take control and responsibility for our life. Then, we will start working to make our lives better and happier, and be able eventually walk out of the shadows of sexual abuse. Self-regard develops over time. Thinking positively and not putting too much pressure on ourselves can help a lot.
4. Spirituality. Religious faith can serve as a good source of emotional support. The belief that there is someone who will always love us and accept us no matter who we are warms our hearts. This acceptance also shines hope on our lives and encourages us not to give up. However, if a particular religion does not give unmerited love but judges us a lot, it is not a good source giving support. The key of having a religion here is to be spiritual and positive. Even for atheist, believing that we should not be judged by luck does the same thing as religion in the recovery of sexual abuse. This connects back to the importance of high self-regard – spiritual support can help build self-regard, thus building resilience.
This article was based on results from a research article.
What do we mean by adversity?
You and I mostly walk along in a path of familiarity. We know or can envision how things will unfold. I get up in the morning, eat breakfast, drive to the office, start into my day, and work on projects, have meetings, go shopping… You might go to school, or raise children, or work outside your home. For the most part you probably have routines that are familiar to you as well.
Sometimes we get surprised. It might be in a positive way—something happens that brings us closer to a desired outcome. I get a call out of the blue from a colleague who has a potential opportunity for me and wants me to submit a proposal for some work. You receive a bonus at work, or a person you’re interested in asks you out on a date.
Sometimes surprises are neither positive nor negative–they just bring in an element of the unexpected. Someone posts something on Facebook that entertains or amuses us, or says something interesting or insightful that we hadn’t thought about before.
But sometimes things happen that we experience as negative. They get in our way, or make us feel uncomfortable, or cause us pain. I wake up with an aching back. The transmission on my car goes out. I found out that a high school friend has died far too young. It is this last category that we think of as adversity. The meaning of the word comes from the Latin: (ad=toward, vers=turn)–to turn toward–to oppose–to present difficulties.
There are a million adversities that life can bring. Illnesses, unexpected problems, accidents, disappointments… Each is different in its own way, but at some level they also share common elements. The details of how we deal with them may differ, but our reactions to them, and the general types of things we do to get through/past/around them have some similarities.
This graphic shows what I think of as the “Terrain of Adversity.” We can describe the challenges we face on several dimensions. The first one is Level of Control. This has to do with the extent to which you voluntarily entered the situation of adversity. At one end are things you did knowing that there would be some tough work involved. Going to school is one of them. Entering the military is another. At the other end are adversities that were forced upon you by some element that you did not choose or control. Abuse, bullying, being kidnapped or taken prisoner—all of these are examples of situations at the low end of the control dimension. In the middle of the range are things that you did not choose, but that are more a factor of the nature of life and the world—a medical condition, an aging parent, a tornado are all examples of these.
These distinctions are not always clear-cut. For instance, behavioral choices can increase the likelihood of certain health conditions.
The second dimension is Length of Impact. Some challenges are momentary, lasting a very short time (seconds, minutes, or hours). These could include such things as an angry encounter with another person, or a flat tire on your car. There are other challenges that last somewhat longer (perhaps days, weeks, or months). Examples might include an episode of physical illness, military basic training, or the loss of a job. Finally, there are challenges that last for a relatively long time (a period of years, and maybe even a lifetime). Examples might include a physical disability, or the birth of a child with special needs.
Let’s look at a few examples. These are plotted on the graphic above.
A. Someone cuts you off in traffic. You’re driving along, and someone comes alongside you at a fairly high speed, cuts in front of you, and nearly causes you to crash. This would be an example of something that occurred in a relatively short period of time, and something you had little control over (but perhaps some ability to predict if you were alert to the traffic around you).
B. You are in a foreign country fighting a war and are taken prisoner and sent to an internment camp with little hope of escape or release. (Read the story of Louis Zamperini for a real-life example of how one person coped with this situation.) This is an example of something that you had no control over, lasting for a relatively long time).
C. You find out that the child you are carrying will be born with a hereditary medical condition that will require lifelong attention and care. This is an example of something that you could not control but may have been able to foresee to some degree, that will last for a very long time.
D. You find yourself struggling in a difficult class you need to pass to complete your major course of study. This is an example of a challenge that is related to a choice you made (high control) that will last for a moderate period of time.
Think of some of the challenges you are facing. Where would you locate them on this map?
There is a third dimension to consider–Impact–the level of disruption the adversity causes in your life. Waking up with the flu might be hugely disruptive if it happens the day before your wedding, but less so if it happens during a time when you have no critical events on your calendar for a few days.
I’ll explore this issue of impact more in a future post, but for now there are a few important points to make:
- Most of us would agree that the total impact of a challenge generally increases with a longer time span and less control. Things that are imposed on us and last a long time, such as the challenges faced by the Cleveland, Ohio girls who were kidnapped, imprisoned, and assaulted over a period of years, are generally agreed to be more “awful” than things that last a shorter time are voluntary in nature (such as the stress that comes from running a 5k race in 90-degree weather).
- Different people may experience the same challenge very differently—high impact for one, lower impact for another.
- You may experience the same challenge differently at different times in your life, depending on the specific circumstances.
Once we recognize the common ground that underlies the various forms of adversity we encounter, we can begin to think about how to use voluntary challenges and everyday adversities to build the perspectives and skills that will help us weather more significant problems.
One thing that makes humans different from other animals is the ability to commit to a loved one. However, this ability sometimes makes us worried and obsessed: an unpleasant relationship can harm us both physically and psychologically. This entry hopes to help those who are in a difficult relationship and to encourage those who are too afraid to pursue intimate relationships.
Here are some blog posts that state common relationship problems and provide suggestions on how to solve them. This article discusses 4 things that can hurt relationships, 3 things that prevent these things, and the best predictor of how good a relationship is. “Negativity feeds on itself and makes the conversation stay negative…One of the most powerful things is to say ‘Hey, this isn’t all your fault, I know that part of this is me. Let’s talk about what’s me and what’s you.’ Accepting responsibility is huge for repair.”
This blog lists several common relationship problems, such as communication problem, and gives a list of possible solutions to each problem. It also points out that we need to face these problems and try to solve them, instead of avoiding them. “Don’t think that things would be better with someone else. Unless you address problems, the same lack of skills that get in the way now will still be there and still cause problems no matter what relationship you’re in.”
This post talks about relationship stress: what causes it and the consequences it can bring. It teaches the reader how to analyze the stress, so that we can find the right way to deal with it. It also encourages us not to give up and to do what we can so that we can have a satisfying relationship and happy self. “Nothing lasts forever in life – not the good times and not the bad times. I know that you can work towards resolving the issues and keep chipping away at the stress in your relationship.”
For those who are not in a relationship but are too afraid to pursue one, this video might help. Even though it is a little bit dated (Tinder has been around for a while now), it talks about why dating apps are so popular. It concludes that optimism is a key to resilience. When being rejected appears to be not that big of a deal, people are more optimistic, and thus are more likely to overcome this adversity. Therefore, start with something that can make us more optimistic, and then we will become more confident. Then, we can pursue the ideal relationship without hesitation.
In this busy world, sleep time can be precious. However, our biggest enemy, restless, sleepless nights, often gets in our way. As we toss and turn in bed, we just cannot get all the thoughts out of our mind. We start to get anxious about not getting enough sleep, which makes it even harder for us to fall asleep. Here are some natural and free or low-cost strategies to cure mild to severe insomnia.
This post recommends 10 habits that we can develop in order to have better sleep. It points out that if we want to have good sleep, the first thing is to value sleep more. “When you’re short on zzzs, you’re also more likely to overreact to minor incidents, feel stressed out, and blow your top.” With a higher priority, we will start to pay attention to our life style and change our habits for better quality sleep.
This slide show explains more about what insomnia is and why it might happen. “Sleep is not an on-and-off switch,” says an expert in clinical psychology. “Your body needs time to unwind and ready itself for shuteye.” This suggests that it is more helpful to develop good habits that allow us to fall asleep easily than to seek immediate but temporary treatment.
This article introduces a new clinical treatment for insomnia–Cognitive Behavioral Treatment (CBT). It gives more scientific explanation on sleep cycles and the cause and treatment of insomnia. It also talks about things we can do ourselves to have better sleep. Here is one suggestion on dealing with anxiety about insomnia: “One way to reduce anxious thoughts is by asking yourself ‘what’s the evidence for and against these thoughts I’m having.’ Not surprisingly, there’s usually ‘very little evidence for the irrational thought.’ Then, you can come up with an alternative thought or new explanation.”
If you are looking for something immediate and practical, this youtube video is a powerful guided sleep meditation talk-down. It is the best talk-down I have used–I fall asleep every time listening to it. Just give it a try; it really works!