I have returned home from summer travel. The good feelings I had built up during my active vacation (two weeks of hiking in the Sierras) are being tested because I live in a valley that features the worst air quality in the nation at this moment due to the raging wild fires on the West Coast of the USA.

I look out of my window and can’t see the mountain ridge. I can barely see the houses below me across the street – so thick is the smoke.

What you do under stress shows how resilient you are, and the tips I’m about to share can be applied to any stressful situation you face. Resilience isn’t a commodity that can be saved for future use, resilience is a ‘muscle’ you must exercise.

Train yourself to adopt these behaviors in everyday living, and when stress rises, you’ll know how to respond. I’m using living with wildfire smoke as an example of a stressful environment. As you read on, you can fill in any stress factor that you encounter and apply the principle.

Give the Bad Situation a Positive Spin

I need to catch up on computer writing, so being forced to stay indoors is a good opportunity to do so.

I’m lucky I’m just dealing with smoke – my home is not threatened, and I don’t have to evacuate. Remember, you can always think of people worse off than you. Self-pity doesn’t make anyone feel better.

Reduce Harm and Stress

I smoke-proofed my home: closed the windows, turned on the air-conditioner with a fresh filter and bought an air purifier to clean the air. I can now breathe easily while I’m indoors.

I walk short distances and wear a breathing mask when outside, so I still get to experience the outdoors, eerie as it is. As always, my walks give me food for thought.

When I get enough of staying indoors, I check out places where the smoke is less or non-existent without having to drive too far. I go for a walk/hike to get out of the smoke once a week.

Take Care of Yourself

Exercise. Since outdoor exercise is not healthy right now, I invite my friends to join me for a gym walk or work-out. I have started up my strength training routine which I usually reserve for winter when I tend to be more sedentary.

Eat plenty of fresh veggies and fruits: healthy foods that help eliminate toxins. Drink plenty of water and rest more. I let myself sleep as much as I want.

Find activities that give you pleasure despite the stressful circumstances. I’ve taken out my watercolor materials and am excited to play with paint, which I haven’t done in a long time.

Develop an Adapted Daily Routine

As you would do with changes in seasons, adjust your life to the current circumstance. Set realistic goals of what you can do under the circumstances.

Since I want to catch up on my writing work, I am not planning ‘escape’ travel to avoid being in the smoke. I may, however, spend a few days with family where I can work undisturbed and be out of the smoke.

Instead of my usual active outdoors summer routine, I’ve adopted a routine of balancing mild physical activities and mental activities. I have a stack of books to read on hiking and hiking trips and can do some future planning.

Meditate twice a day to relax your body and mind. Step out of the stress cycle for a while by focusing on your breath and sitting quietly.

Talk with Someone, Seek Support

Let others – friends or family – know about your stress. Avoid “I can deal with it myself,” or “I don’t want to bother them” heroism!

Discuss with your community what they can do – now, and in the future – to deal with the harmful situation. Make a plan for change!

Offer support to others who are struggling.

Past age 60, you can expect stressors such as loss of friends and family, temporary or permanent physical decline, financial difficulties, loneliness, and now also natural disasters at greater frequencies. The longer you live, the more stressors you’ll encounter.

How you respond to these stressors depends on your resilience. By adopting the above habits, you will be prepared to deal successfully with what comes along in your life with a smile and a positive attitude.

How prepared are you to deal with the stressors that come with 60 years of life? What methods have you adopted that help you come out of stressful situations unharmed? Please share in the comments below.

Dami RoelseDami Roelse encourages her clients to live life with engagement. She blogs and coaches women 50+ to walk, hike and backpack. Her book “Walking Gone Wild, How to Lose Your Age on the Trail” will guide women 50+ how to get started and expand their life instead of letting it shrink as they age. You can find out more about Dami at Transformation Travel.

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