What does resilience mean?
When someone has come through a difficult time, have you ever heard it said that they have resilience? What is that? The Oxford Dictionary defines resilience as: 1) the capacity to recover quickly from difficulties; toughness, and 2.) the ability of a substance or object to spring back into shape; elasticity.
What does resilience look like in real life? Being resilient means facing difficulties head-on instead of falling into despair or using unhealthy coping strategies. Resilience is often defined as the mental reservoir of strength that helps people handle stress and hardship. Resilience is the ability to build skills to endure whatever hardship you are facing. It means being able to adapt to life’s misfortunes and setbacks, reaching out for help when needed.
When something goes wrong in your life, do you tend to bounce back or fall apart? When you have resilience, you harness an inner strength that helps you bounce back from a setback. Setbacks can be many things such as a job loss, an illness, a disaster, a loved one’s death, an assault or leaving an abusive relationship. If you don’t harness your resilience, you might dwell on problems, feel victimized, become overwhelmed or turn to unhealthy coping mechanisms, such as substance abuse, eating disorders or risky behaviors.
Resilience is the ability to adjust to difficult situations and devise a path forward. When stress, adversity or trauma strikes, you will still experience all the anger, grief and pain, but you’re able to keep functioning in daily life — both physically and mentally. Resilience isn’t about just living through something difficult, hiding your emotions and pretending everything is okay, or even figuring it out on your own. Instead, being able to reach out to others for support is a key part of being resilient, and all of it together is a huge help in avoiding or at least effectively dealing with depression and anxiety. Being resilient can help you improve your ability to cope in a healthy manner.
Does having resilience just make the problems go away? No, of course not. However, resilience can give you the ability to see that you have a future beyond what’s happening now, find enjoyment in life and better handle the stress. If you don’t feel you are as resilient as you’d like to be, you can learn skills to become more resilient. So how can we develop more resilience? Here’s some tips from The Mayo Clinic:
Get connected. Building strong, positive relationships with loved ones and friends can provide you with needed support, guidance and acceptance in good and bad times. Establish other important connections by volunteering or joining a faith or spiritual community.
Make every day meaningful. Do something that gives you a sense of accomplishment and purpose every day. Set clear, achievable goals to help you look toward the future with meaning.
Learn from experience. Think of how you’ve coped with hardships in the past. Consider the skills and strategies that helped you through difficult times. You might even write about past experiences in a journal to help you identify positive and negative behavior patterns — and guide your future behavior.
Remain hopeful. You can’t change the past, but you can always look toward the future. Accepting and even anticipating change makes it easier to adapt and view new challenges with less anxiety.
Take care of yourself. Tend to your own needs and feelings. Participate in activities and hobbies you enjoy. Include physical activity in your daily routine. Get plenty of sleep and create consistent bedtime rituals. Eat a healthy diet. Practice stress management and relaxation techniques, such as yoga, meditation, guided imagery, deep breathing or prayer.
Be proactive. Don’t ignore your problems. Instead, figure out what needs to be done, make a plan and take action. Although it can take time to recover from a major setback, traumatic event or loss, know that your situation can improve if you work at it.
Most people are not just born with resilience. Becoming more resilient takes time and practice. If you don’t feel you’re making progress — or you don’t know where to start — consider talking to someone. When you have a safe, confidential place to talk through what’s going on in your life, you can improve your resiliency and mental well-being.
Crisis Services of North Alabama offers free and confidential services to victims of sexual assault and intimate partner violence. You may reach our Jackson County office at 256.574.5826 for an appointment or you can reach our 24/7 HELPline at 256.716.1000 where you can speak with a trained crisis counselor. We are here for you.