Build fam­ily re­siliency to bet­ter cope with chal­lenges

Medicine Hat News - - LIFESTYLES - Michelle Sauve

Life is full of un­ex­pected ex­pe­ri­ences. Some bring us joy and some can leave us up­set, uncer­tain, anx­ious, wor­ried and even fear­ful. In chal­leng­ing mo­ments, it may seem hard to be­lieve that th­ese ex­pe­ri­ences can help us de­velop re­silience; the abil­ity to re­cover from set­backs and carry on, stronger and wiser than ever.

For some of us, re­siliency seems to come nat­u­rally. This is of­ten due mostly to a com­bi­na­tion of tem­per­a­ment and up­bring­ing. Many of us need some guid­ance and un­der­stand­ing on how to build our re­silience. One way in­di­vid­u­als can build re­silience is within our fam­i­lies (a fam­ily is two or more peo­ple who de­pend on one an­other).

Fam­ily re­siliency is your fam­ily’s abil­ity to cope with life’s chal­lenges and to bounce for­ward from dif­fi­cult times. We look to our fam­i­lies for love, sup­port and en­joy­ment and we rely on our fam­i­lies when times are tough. Re­silient fam­i­lies are bet­ter able to cope with life’s chal­lenges and pro­vide the best en­vi­ron­ment for in­di­vid­u­als to flour­ish.

While all fam­i­lies are unique, face dif­fer­ent chal­lenges and rely on dif­fer­ent strengths to cope, there are some things all fam­i­lies can work on to be­come stronger. Th­ese in­clude per­sonal well­ness, healthy com­mu­ni­ca­tion, a sense of to­geth­er­ness, pos­i­tive par­ent­ing, strong part­ner re­la­tion­ships, con­nec­tions to ex­tended fam­ily, and con­nec­tions to com­mu­nity. You may be won­der­ing, how you can prac­ti­cally ap­ply this to my fam­ily? Here are a few ideas to get you started.

To fos­ter per­sonal well­ness do some­thing each day for your­self. Try to spend some time out­side daily and take a walk if you can. Take deep breaths to help man­age strong emo­tions.

Healthy com­mu­ni­ca­tion can be en­cour­aged by talk­ing about chal­lenges and brain­storm­ing so­lu­tions to­gether. When times are busy, a car ride can be a good place to talk. Shared laugh­ter can be a great way to feel close. Fi­nally, a hug may be more pow­er­ful than words.

To strengthen your fam­ily’s sense of to­geth­er­ness, eat meals to­gether when­ever you can. Play a game or do a puz­zle in­stead of us­ing your de­vices or watch­ing TV. Daily ri­tu­als like bed­time sto­ries can be com­fort­ing.

Pos­i­tive par­ent­ing can be sup­ported by cel­e­brat­ing the small, good things that hap­pen each day. Help fam­ily mem­bers un­der­stand that mak­ing mis­takes is OK and a way to learn. Apol­o­gize when you are wrong! De­cide on your fam­ily rules and con­se­quences and stick to them.

To build strong part­ner re­la­tion­ships, take an in­ter­est in the things your part­ner en­joys or try some­thing new to­gether. Be hon­est about your feel­ings and lis­ten re­spect­fully to each other. It’s OK to dis­agree, just be kind and re­spect­ful when you do.

Con­nec­tions to ex­tended fam­ily may be a chal­lenge if your fam­ily mem­bers live in other cities. Get creative with reg­u­lar phone or video chats! Ask your fam­ily el­ders to share their life sto­ries. Be a cheer­leader for the chil­dren in your ex­tended fam­ily.

Some ways to cre­ate con­nec­tions to com­mu­nity in­clude ex­plor­ing what pro­grams are avail­able in your com­mu­nity, vol­un­teer­ing as a fam­ily, and shar­ing your knowl­edge of com­mu­nity sup­ports with oth­ers you meet. You could also pass on your chil­dren’s toys or out­grown clothes to oth­ers.

A fam­ily’s re­silience can also be fos­tered when par­ents have op­por­tu­ni­ties to learn about chal­lenges chil­dren may be ex­pe­ri­enc­ing and how to best sup­port them. Screen use through gam­ing and so­cial me­dia has cer­tainly im­pacted many fam­i­lies in re­cent years!

It is ex­cit­ing to an­nounce that South Zone will have an op­por­tu­nity to hear from Dr. Phil McRae, who will speak about “Grow­ing up Dig­i­tal in Al­berta: Dis­tracted, Tired and Anx­ious.” He will high­light key find­ings from the world’s largest study on tech­nol­ogy, health and learn­ing. This event is of­fered through a part­ner­ship with the Red­cliff Youth Cen­tre, the Town of Red­cliff, the DREAMS Men­tal Health Ca­pac­ity Build­ing Project and Al­berta Health Ser­vices - Ad­dic­tion and Men­tal Health. The event is sched­uled for Feb. 20 from 6:30-7:30 p.m. at IF Cox School in Red­cliff.

If you have ques­tions about fam­ily re­siliency or the pre­sen­ta­tion, please call the Ad­dic­tion Pre­ven­tion Men­tal Health Pro­mo­tion team at 403-529-3582 and press op­tion 1.

(Ex­cerpts for this col­umn taken from the Sim­ple Con­nec­tions, Stronger Fam­i­lies tool­kit was de­vel­oped by the YLL My Home coali­tion in Lloy­d­min­ster, in part­ner­ship with Al­berta Health Ser­vices.)

Michelle Sauve is a to­bacco re­duc­tion coun­sel­lor with Al­berta Health Ser­vices, and can be reached via email at [email protected]

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