When we go through tough times, we suffer mentally physically and emotionally. The feeling of anxiety, stress, emotional pain and grief are so intense that at one point, it seems impossible to overcome this mayhem. But we get over these bad feelings, by accepting the pain and learning to deal with it. This rebuilding of ourselves is what is called as resilience.
What is resilience?
Resilience is our ability to cope up with any adverse situation. It is a psychobiological factor that regulates how effectively an individual is able to recover from adversity.
According to American Psychological Association, “resilience is the process of adapting well in the face of adversity, trauma, tragedy, threats or significant sources of stress — such as family and relationship problems, serious health problems or workplace and financial stressors.”
By adapting well, it means to return being your previous self after facing the problem, loosely termed as “bouncing back”.
Why resilience is important?
When we are in a difficult situation for a long time, it starts affecting our mental health. Our thoughts, emotions, and feelings become negative which can lead to depression, anxiety or some other kind of mental illness. But when our attitude is right even in stressful condition, we are able to maintain our well-being and thus could protect ourselves from negative thoughts. This right attitude comes through resilience.
Mental health and Resilience
Just like immunity prevents harmful diseases to affect our body, resilience prevents hardships to affect our mind.
While some people have a very strong tendency to bounce back from life problems easily, for some it is difficult to cope up. This ability to bounce back usually comes from thoughts, environment and action. The reason why some people are emotionally resilient is that they have optimistic approach towards life. And it is not a trait they were born with, rather a habit that they developed over years.
In fact, in cognitive behavioral therapy, an individual’s resilience is built up so that he or she could cope up the negative stressors.
How to build up resilience?
As I said, you are not born resilient, you become resilient. Even those who are resilient now have faced difficulties early and learned to deal with them. Resilience is a developmental process that changes with the course of time.
According to American Psychological Association, there are several ways by which resilience can build such as: –
1. Cultivating healthy relationships: Having good relationships with family and friends strengthens resilience. They care for you and will support you. Religious groups, community groups tend to provide social support.
2. Tough times will end: When you see problems as the end, your resilience weakens. But when you see them as temporary, you know future is better. Problems are never “The End” rather they are the path to success.
3. Acceptance: It said been said again and again that acceptance is the key. The moment you accept a situation which cannot be changed, you can start focusing on the situation that you can change.
4. Have realistic goals: Disappointment comes from things you cannot achieve. Therefore, rather than having a big unachievable goal, have small achievable goals that will ultimately lead to a big picture.
5. Deal with problems, not avoid them: Problems in life won’t disappear on their own. You have to solve them. If you avoid your problems, you are making the situation more difficult but if you try to solve them, you emerging out of difficulties.
6. Discover yourself: When you are in a difficult situation, you get to know a lot about yourself. And resilience is born out of pain, when you realize what your strong and weak points are, you work on your mental defense mechanism and thus get stronger.
7. Develop confidence: You need to be confident about yourself that you can solve the problems and you are in control.
8. Always look for a bigger picture: When you are facing adversity, always keep a bigger picture in your mind not just the present problem.
9. Always hope for the best: Your thoughts make you or break you. Therefore, no matter how stressful the situation, never lose hope.
10. Take care of yourself: Exercise regularly, eat a healthy diet and take care of your mind, emotions and body.
Everyone goes through difficult times, but getting out of them is resilience. It’s not something uncommon, but a habit that we have to build in our lives time and again so as to ensure our mental wellbeing.