When faced with adversity in life, how does a person cope or adapt? Why do some people seem to bounce back from tragic events or loss much more quickly than others? Why do some people seem to get “stuck” in a point in their life, without the ability to move forward?
Psychologists have long studied these issues and have come up with a label you may be familiar with – resilience. When faced with a tragedy, natural disaster, health concern, relationship, work or school problem, resilience is how well a person can adapt to the events in their life. A person with good resilience has the ability to bounce back more quickly, and with less stress, than someone whose resilience is less developed.
You may read or hear about resilience and think that it applies to only the most inspiring and strong among us, however resilience is surprisingly common. Resilience isn’t about floating through life on a breeze, or skating by all of life’s many challenges unscathed; rather, it’s about experiencing all of the negative, difficult, and distressing events that life throws at you and staying on task and being optimistic. In fact, developing resilience requires emotional distress. If we never ran into disappointment in the first place, we would never learn how to deal with it.
When you think about it in those terms, it’s easy to see that we all display some pretty impressive resilience. Some of us are more resilient than others, but we have all been knocked down, defeated, and despondent at some point in our lives; however, we keep going and here we are today, stronger and more experienced.
Since we know that being resilient is such a helpful trait to have, the next logical question is how do we develop it?
Take care of your body. Self-care may be a popular buzzword, but it’s also a legitimate practice for mental health and building resilience. That’s because stress is just as much physical as it is emotional. Promoting positive lifestyle factors like proper nutrition, ample sleep, hydration, and regular exercise can strengthen your body to adapt to stress and reduce the toll of emotions like anxiety or depression.
Practice mindfulness. Yoga or meditation can also help people to deal with situations that require resilience. When you meditate you focus on the positive aspects of your life and recall the things you’re grateful for, even during times of distress.
Avoid negative outlets. It may be tempting to mask your pain with alcohol, drugs, or other substances, but that’s like putting a bandage on a deep wound. Focus instead on giving your body resources to manage stress, rather than seeking to eliminate the feeling of stress altogether.
Be proactive. It’s helpful to acknowledge and accept your emotions during hard times, but it’s also important to help you foster self-discovery by asking yourself, “What can I do about a problem in my life?” If the problems seem too big to tackle, break them down into manageable pieces.
Getting help when you need it is crucial in building your resilience. For many people, using their own resources and the kinds of strategies listed above may be enough for building their resilience. But at times, an individual might get stuck or have difficulty making progress on the road to resilience. Speak to your manager, colleagues or remember if your employer offers Vivup’s Employee Assistance Programme (EAP) it is available 24/7, 365 days a year