Resilience is a skill that can be learnt and sharpened, and it is never too late to give it a try. The ability to bounce back from stress or adversity is important throughout life, especially in our older years, because, that’s when we face many transitions. How we adjust to these changes helps determine what life will look like moving forward. A wide range of factors influence resilience. There is debate over the extent of the impact of each factor, although it is largely agreed that genetics, personality, social support, and life experience all play a role.
Thinking about these core concepts allows us to reflect on situations where we have had the opportunity to develop resilience and identify times when we have been more or less resilient.
What is Resilience?
Resilience is an ability to recover from or adjust easily to misfortune or change. It is also often referred to as the ability to ‘bounce back’ in the face of adversity. The ‘bounce back’ is positive, often leading to the establishment or reinforcement of our inner strengths. The two key components of resilience are adversity and positive adaptation. Without adversity, we are not challenged, and therefore not required to adapt. The cognitive and emotional tools we develop when we adapt to adversity equip us to deal with what we may face in the future.
Why is resilience important?
Resilience is important because we cannot escape difficult situations in life. There will always be a challenge to overcome and if we are resilient we will be able to face these challenges effectively. Being resilient helps us to cope with difficulties and know we can make it through to the other side.
Resilience is such a valuable life skill because it’s key to learn how to get back up and carry on after you face a difficult challenge, whatever this might be. When we’re resilient, we’re more confident in ourselves and our capabilities. These are great qualities for our general life, as we’ll believe in ourselves more and be more motivated to succeed.
A resilient attitude is important for all areas of life, including work and personal life. Different areas may present challenges at different times, so building your overall resilience will help you cope with whatever challenges come your way.
Being resilient allows you to first accept a situation and then adapt to it, moving through the difficulty with trust in yourself that you can do it. So, why is resilience important? Because resiliency equips you with the skills, confidence and knowledge you need to push through difficulties, pick yourself up after failures and achieve whatever you’re working towards!
Let’s dive into 10 strategies for building resilience in challenging times.
1. Make Connections
Even if you’re not part of a religion or community, friends and loved ones are key when life gets hard. Accepting help and support from those who care about you and will listen to you strengthens resilience. Our brains need social support to function optimally. Our connection releases oxytocin which calms the mind and reduces stress.
2. Be Optimistic
Avoid seeing crises as insurmountable problems. You can’t change the fact that highly stressful events happen, but you can change how you interpret and respond to these events. Look beyond the present to how future circumstances may be a little better.
3. Be Open to Change
Certain goals may no longer be attainable as a result of adverse situations. Accepting circumstances that cannot be changed can help you focus on circumstances that you can alter.
4. Find Meaning in What You Do
Resilient people don’t have jobs — they have callings. They have a mission and purpose in life that gives meaning to the things they do. So when times are hard, they feel a greater purpose is behind them, pushing them forward. Do something regularly — even if it seems like a small accomplishment — that enables you to move toward your goals.
5. Keep Your Brain Strong
Resilient people are very often lifelong learners. They keep growing their mind, learning to adapt to new information about the world. This not only keeps you sharp but has a whole host of positive health benefits. Smart and fit is good but, by definition, hard times mean things we’re not used to. How do you prepare for what you’re not prepared for? Guess you know the answer now.
6. See Challenges as Opportunities for Self-Discovery
People often learn something about themselves and may find that they have grown in some respect as a result of their struggle with loss. Many people who have experienced tragedies and hardship have reported better relationships, greater sense of strength even while feeling vulnerable, increased sense of self-worth, a more developed spirituality and heightened appreciation for life.
7. Be Positive About Yourself
Developing confidence in your ability to solve problems and trusting your instincts helps build resilience. It will leave you feeling stronger as a person which in turn will make you more able to bounce back when things go wrong.
8. Keep Things in Perspective
Even when facing very painful events, try to consider the stressful situation in a broader context and keep a long-term perspective. Avoid blowing the event out of proportion.
9. Maintain a Hopeful Outlook
An optimistic outlook enables you to expect that good things will happen in your life. Beat your brain by making a point of looking for the positive and practicing daily gratitude.
10. Take Care of Yourself
Pay attention to your own needs and feelings. Engage in activities that you enjoy and find relaxing. Exercise regularly (This is more important if you’re someone who’s a bit more emotionally fragile, because the stress of exercising helps us adapt to stress we will feel when life challenges us). Taking care of yourself helps to keep your mind and body primed to deal with situations that require resilience.
Let’s face it, no matter what line of work you’re in, there will always be setbacks along the way. Understanding why some people tend to bounce back more effectively than others in the face of adversity is critical for supporting those going through challenging times. As a sought-after trait that we can all benefit from, how do we show resilience, and how do we recognize resilience in others?
People who have not developed their resilience will often feel helpless and hopeless when difficult events happen in their lives. It can be overwhelming to face adversity without knowing how you can help yourself to cope with these situations. Some people can turn to unhealthy coping strategies to deal with the difficult events in their lives, like abusing substances or isolating themselves from others around them.