What is resilience & 6 ways to strengthen it

What is resilience & 6 ways to strengthen it

What is resilience?

Resilience is a combination of skills that support our ability to adapt and cope with stress and challenges we go through in our lives. It’s vital for our mental health as we all experience highs and lows in life; however the key thing to note here is that resilience is absolutely not about keeping quiet or maintaining a ‘stiff upper lip’. It is how we are able to healthily process and respond to stress and difficulty when they arise.

Like any skill resilience can be developed and (lucky for us) there are a number of ways we can do this!

What we can do to strengthen our resilience

1. Make a plan

Think about what helps you cope when life gets difficult or things go wrong. What helps you relax and makes you feel better, and what makes you feel worse? Although it can be hard when things are busy and overwhelming it’s important to set aside time to do the things you know will make you feel more positive or calm. Thinking about this ahead of time helps us when difficult or upsetting situations arise as we may not be in the headspace to think about this at the time. 

2. Make time to do things you enjoy

Having interests or hobbies that we enjoy and make us feel good is so important when we are going through a difficult time. It can provide us with some relief and help us feel more positive, which can help us cope with what we are going through.

3. Connect with others

Building healthy and supportive relationships with friends, family or colleagues means we have people we can go to when times are tough. Although it may not solve your problems talking to others can help us put things in perspective and cope with what we are thinking and feeling. Bear in mind, however, some of the people in our lives do not have the skills to support us in difficult times so knowing who we can go to is key. 

And yes, it is ultimately down to us to adapt and cope when times are tough but our ability to do this is reinforced by having these positive and supportive relationships with people around us. 

4. Ask for help when you need it

Everyone needs support, advice or feedback at times in life and we are also worthy of asking for it. At work, reach out to your manager, HR department, or union representative. At school or University, reach out to your teacher, tutor, counsellor or student services. 

There are also some great help and advice services you can access over the phone, via online chat, or even text. Samaritans, Mind, Shout, Women’s Aid and Anxiety UK are just a few of many brilliant organisations offering this support. No judgement, just a person at the end of the phone to listen to you and give advice if you need it.

5. Look after yourself. 

Both your mind and body need some TLC sometimes; make time for rest, nourish yourself with nutritious food and enough water, spend time outdoors, and get that body moving in a way that’s right for you. 

6. Set some realistic, positive goals

Having goals for the future can be a source of focus and positivity when things are difficult. The key is to make sure they’re achievable but also flexible so you can still work toward them, even if you encounter setbacks along the way or need to take a break from whatever you are doing for a while.

To sum up

Resilience varies between all of us, as we all have our own unique skills, strengths and experiences. It can also vary in each of us depending on certain situations e.g. a stressful work situation versus a stressful family situation. At the risk of sounding like a broken record, ‘there is no one size fits all’. How I cope with stress will be different to how you cope with stress; however, by taking steps to strengthen our resilience skills (as outlined in the ideas above) we can be better equipped to adapt and cope with difficult situations in the healthiest way for us.

Photo by Jukan Tateisi on Unsplash

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