Life is not a static journey. It is a dynamic and relentless series of happiness, sadness, good times, bad times, hardships, pains and gains.
What happens to you when adversities strike? Do you gather all your armours to face the challenge head-on or crumble under pressure? Your reaction to troubles and hardship determines the outcome of your life situations, not the adversities themselves.
It depends much on your outlook towards life, self and resilience.
A small amount of daily dose of challenges, obstacles and stresses makes necessary changes in us to survive the odds of life, and the challenges life throws at us. But it depends on how we take the challenges, learn from them and use these learnings for future challenges and adversities.
We all indeed have to face our share of struggles in life. The perspective of how we tackle, dealing and come out from the adverse challenges of life makes us what we will experience in life.
We can handle the most stressful situations when we move in life with courage and believe in ourselves. Still, when our beliefs are shaky, we find ourselves unable to cope with the challenges, affecting our physical and mental health. Resilience is something which we develop as we walk ahead in life.
According to American Psychological Association, Resilience refers to the process and outcome of successfully adapting to complex or challenging life experiences. It is mental, emotional, and behavioural flexibility and the ability to adjust to internal and external demands.
Resilience will not make your problems disappear, but it will help you find a way to deal with them, look past them, and lead a meaningful life despite the difficulties.
Adapting to adversities of life
When stress, trauma or adversity strikes, we are bound to feel anger, sadness, pain, grief, and tension. When we find ourselves capable of functioning even in the face of adversity, our coping skills are adequate, and we are resilient to handle the situation. Being resilient does not mean that we will not experience pain, suffering, or emotional turmoil but that we are capable enough to maintain functionality through this phase.
Characteristics and Qualities of a Resilient person
- Recognition of limits to control the situation
- Viewing change as a challenge or opportunity
- Engaging and asking for support from others
- Secure and close attachment to others
- Commitment and capacity to change
- Self-efficacy and confidence
- A realistic sense of control/having choices
- Problem-solving and action-oriented approach
- Hold a good amount of patience
- A good sense of humour
- Tolerance of negative affect
- Personal or collective goals for life
- Adaptability and flexibility to change
- Optimistic attitude towards life
- Past successes and learning from them
Resilience and mental health
Strong resilience is a protective factor for various mental health conditions like depression and anxiety, as solid immunity is a protective factor for physical illnesses. When stressors and adversity strike for a short time and when dealt with adequately, it creates resilient circuits in the brain and helps to deal with subsequent doses of stress and trauma.
But when trauma continues for a long time and resolution is inadequate, it makes the circuit in the brain unstable. When facing future traumatic situations, it fails to deal with and may lead to mental disorders.
Resilience is like a solid immunity to the brain against mental disorders.
Conditions which affect resilience development
- Early childhood trauma
- Repeated recurrent abuses during childhood
- Poor socioeconomic support
- Conflictual family environment
- Victims of bullying
- Early onset / young age onset of substance abuse
People with low resilience may develop
- Sadness and Depression
- Low confidence
- A feeling of being victimized
- Disconnection with society
- Negative views of self and surroundings
- Stressed out and burned out
- Find that life is difficult to continue
The Main Factors Contributing to Resilience
There are many ways to increase resilience. These include having a sound support system, maintaining positive relationships, a good and confident self-image, and a positive attitude.
Other factors that contribute to resiliency include:
- Having the capacity to make realistic plans.
- Being able to carry out those plans.
- Being able to manage your feelings and impulses healthily and effectively.
- Having good communication skills.
- Have confidence in your strengths and abilities.
- Having good problem-solving skills.
How to Improve Resilience
Stay Connected – Building and creating solid and positive relationships with family, friends, and colleagues can provide care, support and guidance needed in tough times.
Establish Meaningful Connections – Establish other meaningful connections by volunteering or joining a faith or spiritual community.
Count One day at a Time – During troublesome and challenging periods, focus on one day and try to cope and bring positive change daily.
One Meaningful Task per Day – Do or find something you are passionate about that gives you a fulfilling sense of purpose, accomplishment and attainment each day. Set clear, achievable goals for yourself to help you look toward the future with meaning.
Learning from experience – Before landing here in this particular situation, you must have also gone through a challenging phase earlier. Remember how you coped then and use that learning to sail through the current one. Think of the strategies, skills and people who stood by you and helped you to sail through difficult times.
Keep the hopes alive – You can’t change the past but can always look toward the future. Accepting and anticipating change makes adapting and viewing new challenges easier with less anxiety.
Take care of yourself –
- Be vigilant to your thoughts, needs and feelings.
- Take part in activities and hobbies that give you the pleasure you enjoy.
- Incorporate some form of daily routine physical activity.
- Take care of your sleep with a consistent bedtime routine and rituals.
- Practice relaxation and stress management techniques like deep breathing, meditation, mindfulness, yoga etc.
Be ready to face – Do not ignore your problems. Sit back and figure out what needs to be done, make a plan and take action. Although recovering from a significant traumatic event, such as the loss of a loved one, financial loss, or setback, is challenging, you must understand that your situation can improve if you work towards it.
When to Consult an Expert
After trying all possible means of problem-solving and coping strategies, it’s time to consult a mental health professional if you cannot handle the turmoil raised by the situation and if it is disturbing your social, personal and occupational functioning.
If it affects your mental health and leads to mental health-related disorders like depression, anxiety or self-destructive thoughts, it’s high time to meet an expert and take proper advice and treatment. Even depressed people can force a smile and crack jokes, and anxious persons can still pose as confident.
So more so that suicidal persons can turn up for work daily and appear to be fine. That’s why there is a need to identify the onset of mental health issues early in life.
Appropriate and adequate treatment aids in better recovery. For better chances of a favourable outcome and improved quality of life, timely professional intervention is an option which should not be overlooked.