Summary Resilience Module 7: Problem Solving

Resilience 7 - Problem Solving

This is a summary of the module Resilience 7 - Problem Solving for your reference.

This module will focus on problem-solving, a necessary skill for enhancing resilience. To recap, resilience is the ability to recover from problematic or stressful situations.

Everyone encounters problems and difficult decisions, both big and small. These situations can naturally create stress in your life. You can face these challenges and lessen their burden by improving your problem-solving skills.

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When you develop good problem-solving skills, you are able to cope with life’s stressors in a positive and productive way. 

Over time, problems that might have increased your stress are easier to manage. You will be better able to adapt to the stress (i.e. be more resilient). Let’s go through the process of problem-solving. 

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First, it is helpful to take a look at how you usually approach issues. Think back to a problem you had over the past few weeks. What mindset did you have when you first encountered the problem? Did it feel overwhelming? Did you feel up for the challenge?

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To have a more positive attitude or approach to a problem, try to:

1. Recognize that problems are a normal part of life. It is normal to feel upset at times. Remind yourself that others may be facing similar issues. 

Let's go back to our friend, Sally. She faced an issue of fatigue, a common problem for many people, both with and without long COVID.

2. Use a growth mindset. See problems as challenges from which to learn and grow. 

Sally saw her fatigue as a challenge, not a hopeless issue.

3. Believe in your ability to solve the problem. Sound familiar? Think back to the previous module, Believe in Your Ability. Remind yourself that you have the skills, strengths, and resources to come up with solutions!

As we saw, Sally knew she could improve her physical activity by increasing the length of her daily walks. She based it on her success in improving her daily movement from no activity to walking for 10 minutes a day.

4. Know that challenges require time and effort. Some problems might take longer than others to solve, and that’s okay!

For example, it took time for Sally to go from 10 minutes to 20 minutes of daily walking. She slowly added 2 minutes of time each week. This took time and consistency.

5. Be mindful of your emotional response to the problem. It can be difficult to see the problem clearly when you are experiencing many feelings.

Sally felt excited and proud about improving her health. These emotions kept her motivated.

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In this Resilience series, you have learned many useful techniques: mindful emotional awareness, growth mindset, cognitive flexibility, and self-efficacy.

They allow you to address challenges in different, more helpful, ways.

You can also use these techniques to see problems in a more positive way. Being more positive helps set up the rest of the problem-solving process for success.

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Step 1. Define the problem

  • What exactly is the problem? 

  • List the details or facts associated with the problem. 

Remember that Sally experienced overwhelming fatigue. This prevented her from taking her 10-minute walks. Sally knew this was due to some of her daily choices, like not taking her mid-day break.

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Step 2. Use SMART goals

You can write out any goals associated with your issue using a SMART framework. This will help you figure out the details of each of your goals and provide direction to resolve the issue. SMART stands for:

Specific (Who, what, when, where, how, why?)

Measurable (How will you know you achieved your goal?)

Achievable  (Is the goal doable within the timeframe?)

Relevant (Does the goal relate to your overall goal/problem to address?)

Time-bound (How long will it take to complete?)

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Let's use Sally's situation as an example.

The goal: To avoid fatigue so she can take her daily 10-minute walks.

The SMART goal: Her goal is to avoid fatigue and take her daily 10-minute walks by ensuring she takes a break every day during the afternoon for 30 minutes.

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Step 3. Brainstorm solutions

Brainstorming is when you come up with possible solutions to address a problem.

Some solutions for Sally’s fatigue:

  • Schedule breaks into her calendar every week

  • Enlist the help of an accountability buddy

  • Prioritize her daily tasks at the start of the day

Be sure to consider any challenges related to the solutions. 

For example, Sally may be challenged by: 

  •  Too many “to-do’s” on her task list

  •  A lack of support

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Step 4. Decide on a new solution

Now, you have brainstormed different solutions. How do you decide which one to try first? 

  • For your top three solutions, make a “pros and cons” list.

  • Think back to any challenges you considered in Step 3.

  • Ask yourself: Will this solution achieve my SMART goal?

Example of Pros and Cons List:

Solution: Schedule breaks into her calendar every week

Pros:

-Helps plan her week

-Builds in rest time

-Gives her a daily reminder

Cons:

-Requires self-accountability

-Finding time at the beginning of the week to plan

-Does not always look at the calendar until later

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Step 5.  Try out the new solution

You weighed the pros and cons. Now it’s time to choose and try the solution that you think will work best. This might require some adjustment to the initial brainstormed idea. 

For example, Sally decides to schedule 30-minute daily breaks into her calendar at the start of each week.

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Step 6. Reflect and revise, if needed

Reflect on the solution. Did it work? If the answer is “no,” why didn’t it work? If it did not work, you could try to adjust the current solution or try the next solution on your list.

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Now that you have an understanding of the problem-solving process, you can follow these steps when a problem arises. Use the worksheets in your Resilience Workbook to guide you.

Remember, your Goodpath coach is also available to assist you with problem-solving.