Mental and emotional resilience takes continuous practice. It’s a commitment to yourself that you will always show up and do the hard work. Being mentally healthy and resilient will allow you to feel more confident, in control, and able to tackle life’s ups and downs.
What is resilience?
Resilience is the ability to recover quickly from difficulty or a tough situation. It’s a skill that takes constant care to develop. It’s a conscious choice to improve your response or reaction to something that was very hard for you to experience. In other words, resilience is the ability to “bounce back.” It sounds like a superpower, but we can all practice resilience with self-awareness and the decision to improve.
What does resilience look like?
We all have different life experiences, stressors, and issues that we work through on a daily basis. Therefore, a resilient person does not have one specific quality, look or personality trait. It’s all of us. However, there are some characteristics to look for in a mentally healthy and resilient person:
Sense of autonomy: individual autonomy is the notion that you are your own person. You live your life based off your own values, ethics and motivations.
Rational thinking: the ability to consider and analyze facts, opinions and judgements of a situation to determine a reasonable conclusion.
Regulate stress: the use of coping skills to manage daily stresses.
Self-esteem: the attitude you have towards yourself; self-respect, self-worth.
Sense of optimism: can also relate to one’s happiness and the meaning and purpose they have of their life and life in general.
Good health habits: this includes proper sleep and personal hygiene, nutritious eating and regular exercise.
Sociability/social skills: being sociable with others; the way you communicate and interact with others.
Adaptability: the ability to change and adjust to new situations or experiences.
Altruism: the moral principle of being concerned with the happiness and wellbeing of all other living beings; compassion, love for others.
On the other hand, those that are lacking resiliency may show these traits:
- Irritability or anger
- Low immune system or illness
- Trouble sleeping
- Overreaction to normal stressors
- Easily upset/depressed or crying
- Lack of hope
It is not out of reach or impossible to strengthen resilience and our mental health. We all have the natural ability and capacity to grow and improve our quality of life.
Why is it important to be resilient?
To be resilient is to have developed, and continue to develop, a means of self-protection against difficult situations using self-awareness and coping strategies. Also, being resilient will allow you to maintain balance during stressful times and protect us from developing possible mental health issues. It can also offer the following:
- Improved learning skills, improved memory
- Improved physical and mental health
- Reduced risky behavior (excessive drinking, smoking, illicit drugs)
- A sense of belonging and giving back to community and/or family
- Experience more positive emotions and better able to regulate emotions
It’s important to note that those practicing resilience are not immune from mental illness or mental health issues. However, when effective coping skills are in place, mental health illnesses or issues can be more manageable.
How can I be more resilient?
There many ways that you can practice resilience and mental strength in your life. We are all our own person with individual thoughts, emotions, and life experiences and so our coping strategies will vary. Here are a few to try:
- Let yourself feel emotions as they come and go
- Find a support system that you can trust
- Lean on self-care strategies; listen to what your body and mind need
- Find a therapist or professional counselor
- Maintain a routine of wellness (meditation, eating, exercising, etc.)
- Get plenty of sleep
- Cultivate a sense of purpose
- Embrace change and your reactions to it
- Develop problem solving skills; take action to solve problems as they come
- Face your fears; this begets self-confidence which will affect your perspective
- Practice self-compassion; be mindful of the words, thoughts, actions toward yourself
- Learn to forgive; this allows you to process unfavorable experiences by changing your mindset and relieving yourself of toxic, negative emotions and thoughts.
The uncertainty of the past year and upcoming months may have lead you to feel isolated, lonely, stressed or overwhelmed. Being aware of your mental health and coping strategies now and working towards strengthening them will better prepare you for any challenging times ahead. Remember that it is okay to need and want help. Reaching out to a professional takes courage.
Source: payneresilience.com, positivepsychology.com, psyhcologytoday.com