How baby boomers stay resilient

Originally posted June 30, 2014 by Emily Holbrook on

As the youngest group of baby boomers approaches 50, a new study shows how the generation stays resilient in the face of challenges. The Hartford Center for Mature Market Excellence and the MIT AgeLab Resilience in Midlife study found that:

  • The most resilient adults have a strong sense of self-efficacy or the belief that they are able to manage through difficult transitions.
  • Participating in entertainment activities and hobbies is the most common way that all adults in the study cope with stress. However, the most resilient adults are more likely to participate in physical activity than less resilient adults (70 percent versus 42 percent).
  • Social connections and support are also common among the most resilient people. Sixty percent of the most resilient adults talk to or spend time with friends as a way to cope with stress, compared with 35 percent of the less resilient individuals.
  • Ninety-four percent of the most resilient people reported that they are very or somewhat happy, compared with only 32 percent of the less resilient people in the survey.
  • Thirty-four percent of the most resilient people reported that they are not stressed at all, compared with 6 percent of the less resilient people in the survey.
  • Adults in their 60s reported higher levels of resilience, compared with people in their 40s and 50s.

For boomers, the most stressful aspects of their lives revolve around personal finances, according to the study. This type of stress can be relieved, at least in part, by following the advice and guidance of a professional financial advisor. Other ways to boost resilience in boomers include:

  • Physical: Be active. Adults in our study who were more resilient reported higher levels of physical activity. Walking was listed as the top activity that resilient people participate in to help cope with stress. Whether it’s taking a walk, exercising, doing yoga or playing sports, being active is associated with resilience.
  • Social: Stay connected to your friends and family. The most resilient adults in our study reported higher rates of spending time or talking with friends and family. Are there friends and family you are close to and have important conversations with? Keep those connections strong. Whether it’s talking on the phone, meeting for a meal, or just hanging-out, talk to the people in your network you rely on and who support you.

Personal: Develop the inner qualities that build resilience. Resilience is comprised of 5 key elements: family and social networks, perseverance, coping, focus of control (belief in your ability to control the situation) and self-efficacy (a belief that you are able to manage through difficult situations). In our research, we found that the most resilient adults reported a high level of self-efficacy. They are confident that they can deal with the stressors they face in the midst of life events.