How to Quickly Rebound from Setbacks


Life is like surfing the ocean. Some days feature the perfect wave, and others bring an upset. Even when a setback throws you off kilter, you have the strength to recover your equilibrium. Here are nine ways to masterfully ride the tide.


Gain Insight

1. Analyze mistakes.

Professional surfers continually assess their errors and form. They don't judge themselves but objectively note what went wrong. They don't criticize the waves. When you've been hit hard by a challenge, don't blame yourself or anyone else involved. Finding fault and getting angry will only waste your good energy. Instead, pinpoint what you've learned and what you can do differently to avoid a repeat scenario.


2. Obtain support.

Smart surfers buddy up with a friend to protect them. Seek the company of people who care about you and will offer positive feedback. Their encouragement will keep you afloat.

Support groups are another valuable resource. The Web can instantly connect you with others in the same position as yourself. To find an A-Z listing of groups for every challenge, visit There's tremendous comfort in knowing you're not "alone at sea."

The unconditional love of a pet is healing in many ways. Pets keep loneliness at bay, warding off depression. They save you from remaining curled up in a fetal position when you hurt. If you have an animal companion, take daily doses of their affection. If you don't, consider volunteering at a shelter, which will give you similar benefits.


Develop Resilience

1. Be flexible.

Flexibility is essential to skillful surfing. By bending, crouching, and shifting their weight, surfers are able to absorb the impact of a bounding board. Similarly, by adapting to the ebb and flow of events, you'll feel more at ease with change.

Every situation has a silver lining and the potential for a bright outcome. It may not be obvious at first, but in time, blue sky will break behind the clouds.


2. Visualize success.

Brad Gerlach, professional surfer and coach, uses creative visualization when training athletes. This practice harnesses imagination to actualize goals. When you picture a situation, event, or object, you subconsciously reel it into your life. You'll be led to take the steps that will crystallize your dream.

Creative visualization is founded on two principles, the law of attraction and power of the mind:

  • Law of Attraction - a universal phenomenon of how we magnetically draw to ourselves whatever we focus on, good or bad.
  • Mental Power - Your mind perceives thoughts as reality.

Here's how to practice creative visualization: 1. Choose a quiet place and time. Secure a space and time when you won't be disturbed. An example is your bedroom upon awakening or before falling sleep. Devote 10-15 minutes to the technique.

2. Get comfortable. Sit or lie down in a relaxed position. Consciously release all tension from your body. Close your eyes and breathe slowly. Follow the rhythm of each inhalation and exhalation, noting how you become calmer with each breath.

3. Paint your picture. Imagine in vivid detail what you desire. Use color, scent, sound, taste, and touch to breathe life into your image. For example, let's say you want a new office job.


  • What do you see? - Envision the color of your office walls and carpet.
  • What do you hear? - "We're so glad to have you on board!"
  • What do you smell? - The scent of freshly brewed coffee infuses your cubicle.
  • What do you taste? - The buttery crunch of whole wheat toast fills your mouth.
  • What do you feel? - The cushioned seat of your executive chair is so comfy.

4. Charge the scene with emotion. Tune into the delight of doing work you love and the feeling of being appreciated.

5. Affirm your image in present tense.

For example, say aloud, "I now have the perfect job, with a fantastic income, friendly co-workers, and work I fully enjoy."

6. Conclude your visualization by breathing slowly.

Take 10 deep respirations.

7. Periodically during the day, recall your image.

Focus on it clearly in a relaxed manner, believing that it's imminent.

For additional information on the science of creative visualization, click here.


Reduce Stress

1. Eat nutritiously.

Healthy food supports emotional stamina by regulating your blood sugar, promoting a stable mood, and reducing stress. Key nutrients in this regard are omega-3 fatty acids and B vitamins. Here are rich sources of each:

  • B Vitamins - wheat germ, bananas, avocado
  • Omega-3 Fatty Acids - chia seeds, flax seed oil, walnuts

Since we're using a surfing analogy in this post, you might consider the Surfer's Dietary Guidelines:

  • Eat a large salad daily or consume veggies at every meal.
  • Aim for a daily protein quota of one gram of protein per pound of body weight.
  • Drink approximately two liters of water per day.
  • Avoid refined carbs, such as white bread, cookies, pasta, rice, crackers, and sweets. 1/


2. Exercise.

Research proves that vigorous physical activity reduces anxiety and tension. Exercise also elevates self-esteem and promotes sound sleep. If a disappointment has you feeling downcast, just five minutes of exercise will boost your mood!

Dynamic movement releases endorphin hormones. These powerful brain chemicals relieve pain, depression, and stress. Rhythmic activities that involve moving your arms and legs are especially effective. Ideal options are dancing, walking, swimming, cycling, and tai chi. Choose an activity that's fun and one you'll naturally want to perform.

You'll reap the greatest benefits of exercise with 30 minutes daily. If a half hour is difficult or daunting, divide it up into three 10-minute sessions. Here are practical ways to incorporate exercise into your day:

  • Walk or bike to the store.
  • Use the stairs at home, work, or the mall rather than an elevator.
  • Park your car at the farthest spot in the lot, and walk the rest of the way to a building.
  • Play with a child or pet. 2/


3. Sleep well.

Athletes know the importance of adequate sleep. It's during the deep stages of shut-eye that your body repairs itself. While in dreamland, your body is busy synthesizing protein, producing growth hormone, and recharging your brain.

During slumber, your mind processes emotions. This is why dilemmas you've mulled over during the day seem more manageable after a good night's rest. Even though your body is snoozing, your brain is solving problems and reconciling past traumas. 3/

After a setback, it's common to feel exhausted, so heed your body's cry for extra sleep. You'll reap the mental and emotional strength needed to recover. Of note is that most people function best on eight hours of nightly rest.


Move On

1. Take small steps.

Defeat can be demoralizing, triggering feelings of guilt and shame. To sustain a positive momentum, forge ahead in small increments. For example, let's say you were making great strides in maintaining a healthy diet. Then, you received some very upsetting news.

Your dietary resolve took a nosedive. It's been a month since going under, and now you want to get back on track. Rather than doing a seven-day cleanse, maintain one healthy habit daily for one week. You might try drinking more water. This is something easily done, producing immediate results and boosting your confidence. Small steps lead to long-term gains.

By the way, to learn all the perks of drinking water, click here.

2. Be kind to yourself.

While physical endurance is achieved with exercise, emotional stamina is gained through self-appreciation. Here's an example of an emotional fitness plan:

  • Warm Up - Begin your day with positive self-talk. While looking in the mirror, give yourself three compliments.
  • Practice Acceptance - Don't fight what you can't change. Instead, come to terms with it. In surfing lingo, "Accept the wave, whatever the ride." Try to be at peace with what's beyond your control.
  • Exercise Gratitude - Be thankful for your gifts and talents. Acknowledge the aspects of your life that are going well. Every day, count up three blessings.
  • Cool Down - At the end of each day, take 10 minutes for meditation, focusing on slow, relaxed breathing.


Ask Yourself One Question

The answer to one question will always keep you on track:


Am I doing my best in this situation?

In any given circumstance, you know what constitutes your capital effort. That's all you have to do. Have faith in your ability to rally from a setback. You possess the innate capacity to weather stormy seas.

The perfect wave is at hand. See it clearly in your mind. Then, summon your strength, position your board, and ride!