download (1)Staying Encouraged: 8 Emotional and Physical Survival Skills

Sometimes life’s challenges can get us down. However, we have to learn how to persevere through it all.

When it seems that we’ve done all that we can do, know that we haven’t. We have to stay encouraged! We have to have hope! Hope is the emotional state which promotes the belief in a positive outcome related to events and circumstances in one’s life.1 It is the “feeling that what is wanted can be had or that events will turn out for the best” or the act of “look[ing] forward to with desire and reasonable confidence” or “feel[ing] that something desired may happen”.2

Without hope, we have hopelessness, and hopelessness is the epitome of destruction. Hopelessness is having no expectation of good or success3; the despair you feel when you have abandoned hope of comfort or success4. Fear is the root of hopelessness. As stated by Napolean Hill, “Fear is a habit; so is self-pity, defeat, anxiety, despair, hopelessness and resignation. You can eliminate all of these negative habits with two simple resolves: I can!! and I will!!”

We can agree that it is much easier to surrender than to fight. However, when it comes to survival or continuing to live in spite of difficult circumstances, it is about survival of the fittest. Survival of the fittest or the idea that one can adapt and change by natural selection with the best suited mutations becoming dominant5, is factual as we were built to endure life’s challenges. It the midst of disaster we are taught that survival skills are crucial. Although, generally referring to physical disasters, this can be conveyed in the emotional aspects of disaster as well.

As an attempt to help others stay encouraged I’ve complied a list of 8 emotional and physical survival skills to support the your fight for to live:

1. Stay hopeful. Life is full of challenges but hope is key to enduring and conquering them.

2. Make a conscious choice to be happy. Happiness is a choice, and your perception is your reality. Finding the good in all situations will help overcoming negative defeating distorted beliefs.

3. Pick your battles. Work on the things you have control over, instead of overwhelming yourself with things you cannot change.

4. Reflect, relax and release. It’s good to reflect and learn from your mistakes and undesirable situations, but don’t get hung up on it. Let it go and relax. Release the pressure of the situation and move forward.

5. Take time for yourself. Do something that eases your mind; something enjoyable that can make you feel refreshed and alive. Take a hot bath, do some crafts or hobbies, get out and enjoy your surroundings, or take in a movie or go to dinner with friends or family. Just do something!

6. Live, laugh, and love. No this is not just a saying. It can be quite helpful when faced with challenges. Make a choice to live! Laugh, as research has soon that laughter releases hormones that reduce stress, provides a physical and emotional release, and even provides a good workout for the heart.6 Love and belonging is one of the basic psychological needs of humans, as theorized by Abraham Maslowm in his 1943 paper, A Theory of Human Motivation7. Humans need to love and be loved, which include intimacy, friendship and family. Without it, one can experience loneliness, social anxiety, and even clinical depression.

7. Get in touch with your spirituality. Research suggests that people with a sense of spirituality – which can be religious or non-religious – are likely to experience greater happiness and well-being. Spirituality can provide us with meaning, a sense of vitality (or aliveness) and a sense of connectedness to others and to ‘something bigger’ beyond our daily lives.8 People who feel their life has meaning are happier and healthier too.9

8. Take action. Make an action plan that consist of goals and objectives, and revisit it regularly. Everyday life challenges can get you off track but an action plan will help keep you focused. Revisiting the plan on a regular basis will provide some insight on your accomplishment and provide continued guidance, even during stressful situations.

Even though life throws us curve-balls, and doesn’t always go as we plan or would like, there is something we can do about it. Don’t surrender to challenges. Welcome them and look at them as an opportunity to grow and advance. Know that you have never done all that you can do.

I challenge you to adopt these skills, take control over your situations, and live a more strategic, desirable, and encouraging life!


1 hope. (n.d.). The American Heritage Dictionary of the English Language, Fourth Edition. Retrieved September 18, 2011 from

2 Accessed on September 18, 2011

3 Accessed on September 18, 2011

4 Accessed on September 18, 2011

5 Accessed on September 18, 2011

tm Accessed on September 18, 2011

7 Accessed on September 18, 2011

8 Averill, J. R. (2009). Emotional creativity: Toward “spiritualizing the passions.” In C. R. Snyder & S.J. Lopez (Eds.), Handbook of positive psychology. NY: Oxford University Press

9 Stegar, M.F. (2009). Meaning in Life. In S.J. Lopez & C.R. Snyder (Eds.) Oxford Handbook of Positive Psychology. NY: Oxford University Press.