• Constance Nash

6 Protective Factors: Giving Yourself The Best Chance Of Success

In life, the struggle is real. It's true that we can't always control what's happening in our lives, but there are times when we can. So, how can we use that control to give ourselves the best opportunity to handle the struggles that pop up in life?

One avenue is increasing resiliency, our ability to bounce back from life’s experiences. When building resiliency, it's important to identify risk factors that have influenced some of our not-so-great decisions, as well as how our protective factors can help in cultivating positive change.

Risk factors can include negative experiences (childhood and adult traumas), mental health challenges, genetics, substance abuse, poverty, a lack of resources (financial and educational), family violence, disabilities, and more.

Protective factors are aspects of life that give us a better chance of overcoming unpleasant life events. Examples include social support, positive coping skills, physical health, a sense of purpose, self-esteem, and healthy thinking.

Take a moment and imagine a seesaw on a playground. The risk factors are on one end weighing you down heavily, and on the other side are all those positive resources, abilities, and characteristics you've cultivated. When we don't have strong protective factors, the probability that our risk factors will negatively influence how we manage our emotions and reactions to events increases. Alternatively, increasing protective factors increases the probability of making it through an unpleasant experience in a healthy manner.

Here are six protective factors to consider:

1. Social Support

Social support relates to the people you have in your corner. Here are some questions you may want to ask yourself: Who can I look to for practical help? Who can I talk to about my problems? Do I have people that like/love me, or people in my life that I love? If you feel any of these categories could improve, then try connecting with your friends and identifying who you trust to share yourself with and pend time developing your mental health treatment team by checking for local resources/clubs/support groups.

2. Coping skills.

Having the ability to manage uncomfortable emotions in a healthy way is essential to managing negative situations life may throw at you. Here are some questions you may want to consider: How do I deal with my stress? How well am I able to recognize emotions I'm experiencing? How are those emotions influencing my behavior? If you feel this category could improve, then try the following: make a list of all the coping skills you use and determine which ones have been useful to you, take up new a new hobby, and try learning new meditation and breathing techniques.