10 ways to shift mental gears and thrive

 Young woman stretches in her office

Challenges happen in everyone’s life, but how you view these experiences can make a big difference in how well you feel on the other side. It’s called resilience, and it may be one of the most important factors in determining how well you bounce back from hardship. Here are 10 ways to help shift your perspective from merely surviving to thriving, even when things are difficult.

1) Pay attention to how you experience challenges. Notice how your body feels, what emotions are coming up, and where your thoughts go. For example, are you telling yourself that this difficulty will keep going into the future? Are you caught up in regrets or resentment? Also, try to begin to separate your thoughts about the challenge (This shouldn’t be happening! Nothing ever changes. I should be able to handle this on my own) from the experience itself.

2) Pay attention to your attitude around setbacks. Sometimes an attitude toward a difficult experience can seem like a factual statement: Those people are like that. I’m not the sort of person who … Try to notice those habitual thoughts, and ask yourself, “Is it true?” Recognize your assumptions and predictions for what they are, and see if anything changes when you open your mind to other possibilities.

3) Catch yourself with the STOP practice. When you feel off-balance because of a challenging situation, pause. Then:

STOP whatever you’re doing
TAKE a few slow breaths
OBSERVE what’s going on around you and in your mind
Proceed with intention about how you want to show up.
4) Insert mindful moments into your days to build your resilience.

5) Make connections and accept help. Value relationships with close family members and friends, and reach out for support when needed.

6) Monitor for mental traps. These are the thoughts that stop us short, and keep us from moving forward. When you encounter one … pause, label it (“I’m imagining disaster again”), and redirect your mind. For example, if you feel paralyzed with fear, acknowledge that fact, then refocus on something useful to be done as a first step. If nothing else, I’m calling the pediatrician today and getting a referral.

7) Nurture a positive view of yourself. Catch your inner critic in action, set it aside, and focus on your strengths instead. Thanks anyway, I wish I’d done it differently but I didn’t. What would be the best thing to do now?

8) Aim to accept that change and uncertainty are a part of life. One common mistake that undermines well-being and resilience is to fight against something that is truly beyond your control. Even when something upsetting happens, separate the experience from a broader expectation that it “shouldn’t” have happened in the first place.

9) Take action with step-by-step goals. Rather than detaching and trying to wish your stress away, be proactive. Ask yourself, What’s one small thing I can do that moves me in the direction I want to go?

10) Take care of yourself. Identify activities that you enjoy and find relaxing, and do them! Taking care of yourself helps to keep your mind and body primed for resilience—and better able to respond to in healthy ways when setbacks happen.



This copyrighted information is courtesy of Mindful.org and developmental behavioral pediatrician Mark Bertin.

Reviewed by Kaiser Permanente Clinical Ambassadors, including Mark Dreskin, MD, Sharon Smith, LPC, and/or David Kane, LCSW. August 2019.

Mindful, healthy mind, healthy life

This information does not replace the advice of a doctor.

Not all treatments or services described are covered benefits for Kaiser Permanente members or offered as services by Kaiser Permanente. For a list of covered benefits, please refer to your Evidence of Coverage, Summary Plan Description or other coverage documents. For recommended treatments, please consult with your health care provider.