How to Gain More Resilience and Why it’s Important

It has been a tough year. For many who already suffer from depression and/or anxiety, it has been even tougher.

Many of the people I see in therapy report feeling overwhelmed and exhausted. Some say that they tend to dwell in the negative, even feeling hopeless at times, while others report choosing unhealthy behaviors such as drinking one too many glasses of wine to soothe themselves. In fact, 60% of participants in a recent study reported increased drinking compared to pre Covid times.

If this sounds familiar, there is good news. We humans are resilient!

George Bonanno, professor of Clinical Psychology from Columbus University says that when we are hit with loss or trauma, it is resilience that gets us back on track.

  • Resilience is the capacity to manage stress and cope with crisis and adversity.
  • Resilience is rebounding more quickly after a blow.
  • Resilience is a healthy adjustment to a setback.
  • Resilience is harnessing one’s own inner strength.
  • Resilience is personal growth, and it is powerful stuff!

It seems that the ever-popular idiom, “What doesn’t kill you makes you stronger,” is not so far from the truth.

If you feel that resilience is not your strong suit, no worries, you are not doomed. Bouncing back is a process, not a character trait. In other words, resilience is learned.

Here are five ways you can gain more resilience in your life:

Be more flexible –Our minds work like a muscle. The more we stretch them, the more flexible and open we become. And people who are more flexible and open are more curious, pay more attention to their feelings, and are more comfortable with the unfamiliar. These are important traits to have right now as we face the unfamiliar aspects of Covid and our changing times.

View set-backs as temporary – Set backs are a normal part of life. When we understand that “this too shall pass,” we are more able to accept our current circumstances as a moment in time and push through. Pushing through is proactive. It not only helps decrease feelings of depression, but it also helps you find solutions to your problems and move forward in your life.

Practice being grateful – Studies show that when you write down three good things that happened in your life (such as something that made you smile, or strengthened a connection), your brain scans the last 24 hours looking for positive moments. This scanning activity, in turn, trains your brain to look for these positive moments. And when you notice these moments, you feel happier, more thankful, and more appreciative of your life.

Seek support from others –When we feel connected to others, we are better able to weather difficult times. Connection to others not only lowers our levels of anxiety and depression but feeling connected increases our self-esteem and immune system. In addition, researchers have found that people who feel connected are more empathetic, trusting, and cooperative. Consequently, when we trust others, they trust us. This leads to what psychologists call a positive feedback loop which enhances the social, emotional and physical well-being of both parties.

Take care of yourself – Self-care is especially important during difficult times. Getting enough sleep, eating well, and going outside for some sunshine and exercise not only make you feel better, but these activities are in your scope of control. And feeling as if we have some control in our lives when there are things happening in the world that we cannot control offers us some comfort.

We hope you found this helpful. Please let us know what you do to help build resilience in the comments below.

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