Courtesy of pergi28

Challenges and change are both a part of life. You might have experienced the death of a cherished family member or friend, the loss of a job, a debilitating health crisis, or a traumatic event. We all react differently to these events, some more emotional than others. However, most people usually adapt well to challenging events and stressful conditions over time. What allows most people to overcome these adversities?

It is about ‘RESILIENCE’.

The American Psychological Association defines resilience as 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. It means “bouncing back” from difficult experiences.

Resilience isn’t about living a life without emotion and hardship, as sadness and pain are common to all. Resilience is about learning behaviours and thoughts that can help you to bounce back from the pain and sadness.

What Contributes to Resilience?

Some studies show that the primary factor in resilience is having nurturing and supportive relationships in one’s circle (family and friends). These family and friends show love and trust, are great role models, and provide reassurance, as well as encouragement to help reinforce a person’s resilience.

Other factors contributing to resilience include:

  • The ability to make realistic plans and take action to apply them.
  • A strong belief in yourself and your abilities.
  • Communication skills and the ability to problem-solve.
  • The ability to manage intense emotions and impulses (strong coping skills).

Strategies for Developing Resilience (these may work for some but not for others)

  • Make strong social connections – these could include spiritual or religious groups, family, friends, or other local groups.
  • Avoid viewing crises as problems you cannot overcome – You can’t stop crises but you can change how you react to those crises.
  • Accept that ‘change’ is a part of life – Focus on things you can control and accept things that are out of your control.
  • Move towards your goals – Create some realistic goals, even if you take a small step that you can do today.
  • Take decisive actions – You can’t make the problem disappear, but you can take steps to problem-solve.
  • Look for opportunities to increase self-awareness – Adversity teaches you something about yourself and allows you to grow on a personal level. You might have developed greater strength, closer relationships, or a greater sense of spirituality or meaning.
  • Develop a positive view of yourself – Building confidence in your capacity to problem-solve and trusting your intuition helps to develop resilience.
  • Have a positive outlook – Being optimistic helps you to expect that you will get good things in life. Visualise what you’d like rather than focusing on your fears.
  • Take good care of yourself – Focus on your personal needs and emotions. Do things you enjoy and things that calm you. Exercise often. Self-care enables you to be strong in mind and body to prepare you to manage events that require resilience.
  • Focus on past experiences and strengths – Reminding yourself of past successes and strengths can create the confidence you need to build resilience for similar situations.
  • Writing about your experiences – Some people might like to write about their deepest thoughts and feelings related to trauma or other stressful events.

Resilience is about having flexibility and balance in your life as you manage challenging situations or trauma. You cannot avoid what you feel. However, you also need to give yourself respite from feeling too much. In other words, you need a break from experiencing strong feelings. You need to take action to manage your challenges, take care of yourself, and spend time with your loved ones so that you get the support you need.