Life comes with uncertainty, stressors and various challenges. Work problems, financial stress, health issues, traumas, loss of a loved one or relationship problems can take it's toll and make us feel vulnerable.
While adverse events are certainly difficult and painful, they don’t have to determine the outcome of our lives. There are many aspects that are within our control that we can modify and grow from. Becoming more resilient not only helps us get through difficult circumstances, it also empowers us to grow and even improve our lives along the way (APA, 2012).
Resilience can involve strengths, skills and capabilities that help us to adapt and grow from adversity. It does not mean adverse experiences are not painful. It does mean that we are able to better weather the toll they take and emerge with greater strength from the process.
So how do we build resilience? Firstly, learn from the past. Think of your own personal strengths, what got you through a difficult time in the past? The answers to these questions can provide us with clues. When I am working with someone, I am always curious to know, to see what has worked before and what we can build on.
Building resilience can assist greatly in establishing better mental health. Asking for help is a strength and form of resilience, whether this be seeking psychotherapy or reaching out to others. Finding support and connection can be vital. Finding those in our lives who we can trust and show genuine compassion can help us weather some of life's most vicious storms.
We can also develop valuable skills, whether these be skills of acceptance or challenging our outlook and perspective. This can include meditation and mindfulness skills or cognitive/thought skills.
Self-care is also important during adversity and something that is often neglected. Exercise, prioritising sleep, nutrition or showing ourselves compassion can help to anchor us and better weather adversity. Along with avoiding those things we know do not benefit us, alcohol or other substances, gambling, binge eating. The things we might do to avoid feeling pain. These do not allow us to grow and move forward. Psychotherapy can help when we feel stuck in an avoidance cycle.
Remember, there are many things that are within our control, even when life sometimes feels out of it. Getting back in touch with the things that work and building on what is helpful can allow us to build resilience and grow from adverse experiences. Therapy can also be valuable. To improve insight, learn new skills and gain perspective.
References: APA (2012) Building your resilience. https://www.apa.org/topics/resilience