increasing resiliencyA new approach to increasing resiliency around the onset of a chronic illness is showing promise in a recent research study.

Judith Moskowitz at the University of California, San Francisco has developed a program that is aimed toward helping people who are newly diagnosed with a chronic disorder to adjust by increasing their positive emotions.

The intervention, known as IRISS (intervention for those recently informed of their seropositive status), worked with HIV-positive subjects through one-to-one sessions to help them learn “intentional activities” that promote positive feelings.

While the study had a small sample with only one type of chronic illness, Moskowitz believes the intervention may be found to help people with other types of persistent disorders as well.

The eight “intentional activities” are worth noting as many of these have been found to promote resiliency in other arenas as well. I encourage you to try some or all of these to develop your own resiliency:

1. Noting positive daily events. Raising awareness of the things that happen in your life that you enjoy can make you feel better. Moskowitz also suggests “scheduling pleasant activities” into your day.

2. Capitalizing on or savoring positive events. This means to specifically talk about the event you enjoyed with another person or even just to simply think about it again later on.

3. Gratitude. A whole topic by itself, many studies have shown that well-being is increased by intentionally noticing what one is grateful for.

4. Mindfulness. Attending to thoughts and feelings without judgment. This practice leads to a sense of freedom and an increase in positive feelings. See my post on my website’s blog for more about mindfulness.

5. Positive reappraisal. Basically, this is seeing the silver lining in a cloud of adversity. Can you find meaning in the situation you’re in?

6. Focusing on personal strengths. This self-affirming activity helps you realize you have more coping skills than you thought. It’s easy to feel down when facing life’s storms, so you need to make a conscious effort to remember the strengths that lift you up.

7. Goal setting and working toward attainable goals. A sense of accomplishment can boost positive feelings. But make sure your goals are realistic and able to be achieved.

8. Small acts of kindness. Practicing random – or planned! – acts of kindness can help increase your goodwill toward yourself and others.

We’ll look at these activities in more depth in future posts. In the meantime, try some of them on for size. See if they help raise your ability to bounce back by promoting positive feelings. I’d love to hear about your experiences!

Source: Moskowitz, J.T. (2010) Positive Affect at the Onset of Chronic Illness. In J.W. Reich, A.J. Zautra, & J.S. Hall (Eds.) Handbook of Adult Resilience (465-483). New York: The Guilford Press.

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