Building Resilience

What does “resilience” mean to you?

Oxford dictionary defines resilience as the capacity to recover quickly from difficulties. Psychology further defines it as the process of adapting well in the face of adversity or a significant source of stress. Essentially, it’s our ability to “bounce back” from difficult situations, and can also result in profound personal growth. Everyone has a different experience and understanding of resilience, and what might seem stressful to one person may not necessarily be an issue for another.

Why do some people seem more resilient than others?

Many factors influence your current state of resiliency, including:

  • Psychological predisposition
  • Biological predisposition
  • Unique life experiences
  • Presence of supportive networks
  • Exercise
  • Mindfulness

What’s interesting though, is that our capacity to be resilient is not fixed! With some practice and dedication, we can train our minds to become more resilient.

Components that promote resilience include:

  • Good communication skills
  • Having a positive outlook on life
  • Good physical and mental health
  • Planning and goal setting
  • Being reasonable
  • Having a sense of humour
  • Having a sense of accomplishment
  • Ability to relax, take a break

If you’ve taken a look at the above list and identified a few areas that can be improved, you’re not alone. Together, we can overcome obstacles in our lives and come out of these challenges stronger than before!

Before we get caught up in trying to figure out how to be more resilient, let’s stop and just take 5 deep breaths, and take a moment to check in with yourself. Our lives can be so busy that we can forget to take a few moments and catch our breath. Our minds and bodies aren’t meant to deal with the constant stress that often leads to burnout. A key step in building resilience is finding time to let our minds and bodies recover, replenish, and restore our energy.

Research says that by simply taking slow deep breaths for as little as 30 seconds, we’re already switching to a calmer state within our nervous system. It’s amazing that we can consciously change our stress response (sympathetic system) to turn on our relaxation response (parasympathetic system). This lowers your breathing rate, heart rate, blood pressure, and anxiety levels, while increasing feelings of calmness.

Other practices that can help us recover from stress may include:

  • Exercise
  • Going outside
  • Journaling
  • Eating nutritious food
  • Prioritizing sleep
  • Letting go of things you can’t control
  • Practicing an attitude of gratitude
  • Forgiving yourself and others
  • Taking regular breaks
  • Building a strong supportive network from friends and family

When responding to stressful situations, after “recovering”, it’s time to “renew”. What I mean by this, is to build regular positive habits that you enjoy and look forward to, and acknowledge that you need to do something to lift your spirits and energy levels. It’s important to live your values, make time for your passions, cultivate a positive relationship with yourself, become more patient and compassionate, and of course to always be kind to yourself.

Learn to change from simply reacting, to responding more mindfully, positively, and purposefully during difficult situations.

“Between stimulus and response, there’s a space. In that space is our power to choose our response. In our response lies our growth and our freedom” – Victor E. Frankl

Hope you stay well.



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