Building Resilience: How to Bounce Back from Adversity.

Stress and negative events are an unavoidable part of life. The older we get, the more likely it is that we will experience at least one major stressful life event, and as time goes by we are likely to experience many others. Life events such as divorce, death of a loved one, health concerns, physical illness, family and relationship problems, workplace issues, and financial concerns, are all examples of life events that can trigger emotional distress.  For some Individuals exposure to these events can trigger extreme levels of emotional distress and exacerbate or trigger the development of a mental health issue. However not all individuals who experience adversity and trauma will develop a mental health issue. Why is it then, that when faced with a similar stressful event, that some Individuals “bounce back”, and seem to cope better than others? Possessing Resilience is an important factor in being able to cope and adapt well to adversity.

What is Resilience?

Resilience is the ability to “bounce back” from difficult life experiences. Individuals high in resilience have the ability to adapt and cope well with trauma and adversity. Resilience is not a fixed personality trait that Individuals are born with, but rather something that can be developed and nurtured from a young age and across the life span. It is never too late to learn how to build resilience and cope effectively with life stress!

5 Factors that Help Build Resilience

  • Develop a “Growth Mindset”- see failure as a normal part of life and an opportunity to grow. See challenges as an opportunity to learn about yourself, your personal strengths and aspects of yourself that you can improve on. See feedback as constructive, not a criticism. Feel inspired by and surround yourself with the success of others. Be open to new experiences and different points of view. Believe that with practice you can learn to do anything you want. View effort and attitude as directly influencing your abilities and success.
  • Positive Self-Talk- be careful how you “talk’ to yourself. Unhelpful and negative self-talk, and negative interpretations of stressful events can have an enormous impact on how well individuals cope with stress and adversity. If you feel you could use some help with shifting unhelpful thoughts a Psychologist trained in Cognitive Behavioural Therapy can help you re-train your brain to think in more helpful ways to better manage your reactions to stress.
  • Be Socially Connected- having at least one close personal relationship is a very important factor in how well Individuals cope with adversity. Having a number of close, supportive relationships is even better and acts as a protective factor in reducing the likelihood of developing mental heath issues in the face of stress and trauma.
  • Practice Daily Self Care-regular exercise, good nutrition, and actively engaging in fun relaxing activities are all essential for self-care, mental wellbeing, and coping well in times of stress.
  • Ask for Help-sometimes events happen in life that we just don’t know how to cope with, and are just not sure whether how we are feeling, thinking, and reacting are “normal”. Speaking with a trusted friend, partner, and seeking out the assistance of a Psychologist sooner than later can be a great way to manage and minimize the impacts of adversity and trauma on mental health.

Source: Vanessa Staub (Psychologist)

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