It’s not always possible to prevent stressful or adverse situations, but you can strengthen your capacity to deal with these challenges.
What is resilience?
Resilience is your ability to cope with tough times by applying your inner strength and engaging support networks. Resilience can enable you to face difficult situations and maintain good mental health.
Coping with challenges
Stress and setbacks are a part of life, and you can’t avoid them. A series of challenges, or a traumatic situation, can be hard to deal with. If you know you can cope with adversity, that can give you the confidence to get through challenging situations. Coping strategies can enable you to deal with stress and maintain a sense of control in your life. There are many different ways of coping with stress, and everyone is different, so it’s about finding something that works for you. Anything that is not harmful to your health and wellbeing could be worth a try, such as:
– taking time out to relax
– exercise or meditation
– breaking a challenge down into small, achievable goals
– celebrating achieving your goals
– keeping a journal
– thinking about the big picture
What the research tells us about resilience
– Coping is not resilience
– It’s not all nature. We can learn and develop it
– We all have it some of the time
– It’s about support and staying connected
– It’s about the meaning and creating purpose
– We don’t necessarily transfer resilience from one situation to another
Resilience enables you to better cope with challenging situations and helps with your mental wellbeing. You probably already have skills and support networks that help you be resilient, but you can build these up even more, making it easier for you to cope with life. You can build your resilience using different strategies. Below is a list of different approaches that you can implement to strengthen your resilience.
Examining your habits is an essential first step in developing a self-care plan. How do you typically deal with life’s demands? Can you identify when you need to take a break?
When faced with challenges, we can use either positive coping strategies or harmful coping strategies. Below are a few examples of each. Which strategies do you use?
– Deep breathing
– Listening to music
– Connecting with others
– Engaging in a hobby
– Skipping meals
– Drinking alcohol to excess
– Withdrawal from friends and family
– Biting fingernails
It’s essential to be honest when evaluating your behaviours. If you find yourself unable to cope with a situation or feeling angry, snappy with others, or anxious, take a deep breath and refocus. It may be time to re-evaluate your go-to coping skills.
Build healthy relationships
Prioritise relationships. Connecting with empathetic and understanding people can remind you that you’re not alone during difficulties. Focus on finding trustworthy and compassionate individuals who validate your feelings, which will support resilience. The pain of traumatic events can lead some people to isolate themselves, but it’s important to accept help and support from those who care about you. Whether you go on a weekly date night with your spouse or plan a lunch out with a friend, try to prioritise genuinely connecting with people who care about you. Along with one-on-one relationships, some people find that being active in civic groups, faith-based communities, or other local organisations provides social support and can help you reclaim hope. Research groups in your area could offer you support and a sense of purpose or joy when you need it.
1. Help others. Whether you volunteer with a local homeless shelter or support a friend in their own time of need, you can garner a sense of purpose, foster self-worth, connect with other people, and tangibly help others, all of which can empower you to grow in resilience.
2. Be proactive. It’s helpful to acknowledge and accept your emotions during hard times, but it’s also vital 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. For example, if you got laid off at work, you may not be able to convince your boss it was a mistake to let you go. But you can spend an hour each day developing your top strengths or working on your resume. Taking the initiative will remind you that you can muster motivation and purpose even during stressful periods of your life, increasing the likelihood that you’ll rise during painful times again.
3. Move toward your goals. Develop some realistic goals and do something regularly—even if it seems like a small accomplishment—that enables you to move toward the things you want to accomplish. Instead of focusing on tasks that seem unachievable, ask yourself, “What’s one thing I know I can accomplish today that helps me move in the direction I want to go?” For example, if you’re struggling with the loss of a loved one and you want to move forward, you could join a grief support group in your area.
4. Look for opportunities for self-discovery. People often find that they have grown in some respect as a result of a struggle. For example, people have reported better relationships and a greater sense of strength after a tragedy or hardship, even while feeling vulnerable. That can increase their understanding of self-worth and heighten their appreciation for life.
Look after your body
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.
Know your strengths & build your self-esteem
Resilient people are confident that they’re going to succeed eventually, despite the setbacks or stresses they might face. This belief in themselves also enables them to take risks: when you develop confidence and a strong sense of self, you have the strength to keep moving forward and to take the risks you need to get ahead.
Develop Problem-Solving Skills
Research suggests that people who can come up with solutions to a problem can better cope with problems than those who cannot. Whenever you encounter a new challenge, make a quick list of some potential ways you could solve the problem. Experiment with different strategies and focus on developing a logical way to work through common problems. By practising your problem-solving skills regularly, you will be better prepared to cope when a serious challenge emerges.
Know when to ask for help
Finally, have a plan in case of an emergency. Think about what roles in your life that you might need help. Who could provide that support? Think about everyday tasks or needs. It could be picking up your kids from school, helping at your home or being there to talk too. Everyone needs a support network someday – plan yours.
To strengthen your resilience, choose a few strategies from above and outline a plan.
1. Which strategy will you implement? E.g. Find purpose.
2. What will you do to achieve your goal? E.g. Set a purpose statement that reflects my journey.
3. How will you know when you are successful? E.g. When I have written a statement that reflects my purpose and discussed it with those close to me for their feedback.
4. When will you aim to complete it? E.g. In the next six weeks.