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What is Resilience? How to Improve it for Better Future?

What is Resilience? How to Improve it for Better Future?

Updated on May 27, 2022

Reviewed by Dr. Nereida Gonzalez-Berrios, MD , Certified Psychiatrist

What is Resilience and Know 8 Ways to Build Your Resilience

Every day, a wide range of difficulties keep hampering our mental and physical state. Sometimes, we suffer heavy financial losses or lose our loved ones. Though challenging, there are ways to cope with such stressful events. And this whole process is called resilience.

Resilience is the ability that helps to adapt as well as handle traumatic conditions.

But before we move any forward, let’s start exploring more about resilience.

Resilience Infographic

8 Ways to Improve Resilience for A Better Future
8 Ways to Improve Resilience for A Better Future

Resilience Definition

The word resilience means to recover strongly from the toughest of situations. Indeed, the American Psychological Association defines the term in a very precise manner.

It states that “resilience is the process of adapting well in the face of adversity, trauma, tragedy, threats or significant sources of stress — such as family and relationship problems, serious health problems or workplace and financial stressors.” And all this infers that one can overcome adversity and bounce back with resilience. 

Besides, research on resilience reflects that it is important for the growth of positive psychology. It deals with satisfaction, adaptability, contentment, and optimism in people’s life.

Though results are fruitful, building resilience takes effort and time. A study by the American Psychological Association states that though a person is resilient yet he may experience stress or difficulty.

Thus, with this article, we are going to explore the importance of being resilient. And ways for improving your resilience. But before that let’s explore more about Resilience Theory.

Resilience Theory

Psychologist Norman Garmezy is considered one of the pioneers and contributors to Resilience Theory. He gained a global reputation while working in the field of schizophrenia in adults.

He then started focusing on preventing mental illness with motivation, cognitive skills, social change, and protective factors. Besides, he started the Project Competence Longitudinal Study (PCLS), which studied the positive outcome of children who were ‘at-risk.’

During the research, Norman and his team found that children who were more capable of social, cognitive, and academic domains, were less likely to experience negative outcomes in later life.

But his team also came across children who experienced adversity in childhood, owned the above competencies yet stood equal to the children who had not faced any adversity in childhood. Thus, this inferred that children with high-risks who were exposed to extreme adversity managed to display ‘OK’ capability. 

So, all this shows that there are individuals who process tough situations in varied ways. Not many get affected, rather many are resilient children who ably heal and survive. Amidst this, protective factors are a breather that helps in improving coping strategies.

They are considered the backbone of a happy family and life. So, let’s explore some of the protective factors that help in promoting resilience.

1. Having friends, family, neighbors is a great help for providing emotional support. These factors infuse positivity by helping out parents to undertake ideal parenting. Alongside this, they lend a hand while problem-solving, and share words of wisdom. 

2. One should have access to clinical interventions to reduce the family crisis. Then it could be domestic violence or substance abuse. 

3. Realistic planning is very important to achieve goals. The realistic plan adds a ray of hope, motivation, and strengthens the urge of reaching out to achievable goals.

4. Economic stability is a must especially while earning an agreeable wage.

5. One must manage negative emotions because of which it becomes easy to stay focused.

6. Learning to identify coping strategies and problem-solving strategies. This helps sail through adversity.

7. Development of relaxation techniques that help in conflict resolution.

8. Excelling in some hobby or expressing feelings with poetry, painting, or any form of art.

Well, now that you are well-versed with the basics of resilience. It’s now time to dig a little deeper.  

Importance of ‘Building Resilience’

Do you ever wonder why some people stay calm in a disastrous situation? It’s because they are resilient. Resilience is a great way to cope up with stress in a positive manner. So, let’s unravel why it is important to stay resilient in life.

 1. Resilience helps you cope with the loss

Every person goes through tough times in life. The intensity of these challenges varies from person to person. But dealing with loss is an unavoidable task. But if you are one of the resilient people, then you can deal with problems in a sophisticated manner. And whatever outcome you derive may have a long-lasting effect on your life.

2. Lowers stress

Stress can affect you mentally as well as physically. It leads to health problems like hypertension, diabetes, obesity, heart problem, anxiety, insomnia, indigestion, restlessness, depression, frustration, etc.

But resilience helps you to handle stress in a systematic manner. It gives you the power to handle difficult situations.

3. Resilience enhances involvement 

Resilience gives you the sense to share your feelings with your loved ones. This helps in getting mental support to fight any circumstances. And this helps to bond well with your family and friends. Resilience gives you a sense of community that takes you beyond your individual desires.

4. Reduces addictions

When a person is under stress, there is a tendency of getting carried away. Moreover, stress is a well-known factor that leads to addiction. An individual with low resilience easily gets drawn towards drug abuse, drinking, and smoking.

But with resilience, you can maintain your mental health as it plays a pivotal role in the de-addiction process.

5. Resilience avoids absence at work

Now it is a proven fact that resilience enhances your physical and mental health. With this, the person doesn’t fall prey to any illnesses. And when there is no illness, then there is no absence at work. This helps the individual to perform better in the most difficult situation.

6. Resilience makes you emotionally stable

If you want to succeed in life with flying colors, then stability is important. Moreover, emotional stability is very important. It helps with overall growth and successful performance. With resilience, instead of over-reacting, you respond in a positive manner.

7. Gives you a sense of control

A study has suggested that resilience and locus of control form a significant relationship. So, people who have an internal locus of control think that they are capable of controlling their destiny. And resilient people boast of this characteristic.

Though there are some factors like natural disasters that are beyond control. But resilient people have coping skills to adjust and never lose focus on the things that they can control.

Well, now you know the importance of being a resilient person. But do you know how to improve it? Then, you need to read on.

How To Build Resilience?

Now that you know the benefits of resilience. So, let’s explore how you can strengthen resilience for a better life.

1. Believe in Yourself

One of the best coping mechanisms to fight difficult times is to believe in your action. Acknowledge your strengths and weaknesses, because they help you face tough situations.

Life is full of hardships that can arise at any time. Some individuals handle the situation, undertake problem-solving, and design a constructive solution. But there are some who lose confidence and underestimate their capabilities towards life.

So, to stay stronger in the rat race, it is important to believe in yourself and identify problems. Chalk out a plan and start taking action. With resilience, you get the ability to bounce back. Start identifying your strengths because they will help you gain confidence. With this, success will be a step away.

2. Accept Challenges with Humor

Start accepting challenges, if you wish to achieve things that you have dreamt of! Set goals, start brainstorming, which will lead you to a lucrative solution.

Nothing stays the same, because things around are going to keep changing. And if you don’t accept these changes, then there will be constant conflict in your thoughts. Obstacles come in various forms, but we should be able to tackle them by all means.

You don’t have to maintain a grumpy face all the time, to face challenges. Rather with humor, you can lighten up your mood and find a getaway from problems. Moreover, humor will give you flexibility while adapting to any situation.

A resilient individual utilizes such moments to carve new beginnings. And starts his/her innings with confidence.

3. Build A Social Network

There is no need to face every crisis alone. Instead, take help from your friends and family. Social support is the greatest backbone in perilous times. They listen to you and give you positive feedback to cope in life.

When you are resilient it doesn’t mean that you must suffer alone and not let people help you. In fact, social support in the form of friends, family, colleagues, is beneficial for mental as well as physical health.

Resilience works on the crux of the community. Diversity in a community like age, experience, vision, skill, and views also helps a lot.

These different outlooks help in becoming more resilient. A strong social network with positive relationships and experiences teaches you to think beyond. They also help in deriving your personal desires.

Above all, a study has highlighted that social relationships increase the likelihood of survival.

4. Enhance problem-solving skills

In case of a challenge, make sure to keep a list ready with a possible solution. This helps you to take a logical decision with ways to solve the problem. 

A study stated that individuals who boast high resilience are good at problem-solving skills. Also, they have a positive orientation towards problems. So, whenever you hit a roadblock, start making a list of solutions.

Also, come up with different strategies and logic that will help you in adapting to adversity. Furthermore, start practicing your problem-solving skills on a regular basis. With this, you will definitely witness positive outcomes.

5. Design Realistic Plans

Unrealistic plans lead us only to disappointment. So, if you want to achieve your goals, then set parameters that are achievable. With this, you get the skills to come up with a solution.

Setting goals is an important step while improving resilience. But, make sure to undertake realistic planning or goals that are achievable. Because one failure is enough for complete discouragement. So, start planning for small projects or take part in activities that you love.

For staying focused, undertake activities for your home, community, or health routine. When you complete one task, the feeling of achievement will give immense positivity. Also, if you are indulging in helping others, then it will give a feeling of satisfaction.

6. Stay Positive

No matter what, don’t let go of the positivity within you. With positive thinking, don’t avoid the problem, rather embrace it and show the ability to face it.

Every single day is different from the other. Sometimes, the weather is sunny while sometimes it is windy. But, with a positive attitude, you can stay focused while achieving resilience. With this, you may also witness good things coming your way.

Remaining hopeful for a better tomorrow also drives you towards positivity. Some situations might not work, as per plan. But stay positive and think about the bright side of the situation.

Sometimes, difficult situations help you to analyze and learn new things about yourself.

7. Not all Crisis Are Hopeless

Whether we are at work or school, we tag every crisis as unsolvable. This makes us inactive in handling the situation and keeps us away from goals. But if you boost your resilience, you get the ability to cope with every crisis.

There are many stressful events that we face in our daily life. Some have a lesser impact while some hamper us a lot. Sometimes, we can’t change the course of these events because they are unavoidable. But we can definitely react to these events in a different manner.

Try not to think about the present. Rather, think about ways to carve a better future. Try and maintain a subtle demeanor that will give you the strength to deal with situations. If not dealt with in the right manner, any crisis – small or big, can hamper your entire life.

8. Take Action

When taking action towards your problem, you start controlling your emotions. Rather than sitting idle, for problems to take their shape. Staying proactive will bring you closer to your goals.

Waiting for the problem to fade away, is not going to help in any way. Instead, start taking decisive actions to tackle the problem. Though you find a solution in no time, you must start taking steps in handling the situation better.

You may also keep a tab on the progress of the problem, thus helping you to plan better. If you wish to boost your resilience then don’t think about the number of efforts you are going to contribute. Though the problem is big or small, efforts are mandatory.

You may maintain a diary and pen down your thoughts or you can practice meditation. With this, you will restore hope to start a new chapter in life.

If you are unable to take up these tasks to build resilience. Then you can take up resilience training. In this, you learn to train yourself by focusing more on the positive aspects of your life. Also, there is an intervention of purposeful, and trained attention for decreasing negative emotions as well as thoughts in your mind. 

Besides coping and adaptability, there are types of resilience including psychological, emotional, physical, and social. So, let’s see what they are.

Types of Resilience

1. Psychological Resilience 

Psychological resilience is all about coping with your emotional and mental state. The people who boast psychological resilience unfold exceptional behavioral and psychological abilities.

Furthermore, helping them to stay calm during chaotic situations. Besides, it also helps them to move on with their life without any qualms about negative life events.  

2. Emotional resilience

Emotional resilient people tend to boast adaptation to stress and adversities with flexibility. They are well aware of their feelings. Despite intense emotions, they are optimistic that things are surely getting better in the near future.

Emotional resilience guides them on the path of positivity when negative life events seem to be never-ending. 

3. Physical resilience

As the name suggests, physical resilience is all about how your body is able to adapt to challenges. In actuality, it is all about recovering from illness, accident, trauma, or tragedy.

So, you may be exposed to physical challenges, but with this resilience, you may recover in an efficient manner.

4. Social resilience

Social resilience grows as you connect with other people in a social way. Then it could be meeting your childhood friend, networking with successful people, teamwork, or taking an active part in the community event.

For example, when there is a natural disaster, the country, state, and city become socially resilient. People come together and support each other in times of crisis.  

But did you know that there are many who find strength from symbols? Yes, there are resilience symbols that depict strength and were carved by ancestors. They are a source of inspiration for all. So, let’s explore some of the common symbols.

Some Resilience Symbols 

1. Ailm

Ailm is one of those symbols that depict strength in Celtic culture. The word ‘ailm’ literally means “conifer or silver fir.” Besides, these fir trees are evergreen plants that are born to cope up and survive in the most adverse conditions. Nothing can stop them from growing, thus depicting strength and resilience.

2. Lotus

The lotus flowers exist in a dark and muddy environment. It keeps growing in the most adverse situations. But once it reaches the surface, it opens up and becomes one of the most eternal beauties. It depicts resilience by showing strength and courage in the toughest situation.

3. Tardigrade

Also known as water bears, Tardigrade is considered one of the most resilient animals ever. They are capable of surviving in all-weather conditions, locations, and extreme pressure. When other animals die of dehydration and starvation, they survive. 

4. Phoenix

If you are a Harry Potter fan, then you probably know about Phoenix. Phoenix is a mythical creature that rises from the ashes. It is a symbol of resilience wherein it dies amid flames. Further resurrecting from the ashes of the fire where it lost its life. 

So, these are some of the symbols of resilience. And interestingly, a tattoo is one way of depicting resilience. So, next time, when you wish to get inked, you know what will portray your inner strength!

Journey to Resilience

Closing Thoughts

Developing resilience takes time and it differs from person to person. But, do practice these skills and believe in your strengths. Alongside this, you may also practice meditation to find calmness from stressful situations.

Even if the situation seems bleak, move forward with realistic steps for improving the overall situation. These baby steps will help you with a sense of control. 

Before winding up, here’s a link to a beautiful video that explains resilience. 

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