The Power of Resilience
Imagine you have decided to go camping but you do not have a tent.
Regardless, this is an experience you have chosen to participate in, so you go anyway. According to the forecast, there is no chance of rain so you should be good. You hike to your spot and begin getting yourself set up. As the evening approaches, the winds begin to pick up and sadly it begins to rain. You feel scared, unsafe, and unsure what to do as it is a long hike to get out, and it is now nighttime. You need to develop your resilience.
In life, we experience stress, adversity and trauma, and we cope with what we have available.
Our ability to handle stress and adversity comes from many factors, including our personality traits, our past experiences, and our support system. Like the camper in the rain, although you may be prepared for what is expected, sometimes the unexpected happens. But let us say, prior to leaving on your camping trip, your friend encourages you to consider getting a tent so you can stay protected and be prepared. You consult with other friends and choose to get yourself a tent. When the unexpected occurs (the rain), you are now prepared. Rather than feeling unsafe and scared when it begins raining, you now feel prepared, safe and warm inside your tent.
Resilience is your tent.
According to Merriam-Webster’s Dictionary, resilience is defined as “an ability to recover from or adjust easily to misfortune or change.” Resilience is your ability to cope and manage stressful situations such as trauma or adversity. Resilience also has an impact on how you bounce back from these events and the possible personal growth that accompanies this experience. Resilience can be fostered and built over time, so that you can feel confident managing those unexpected and expected challenging life situations. So, how do you develop your resilience?
Connect and build relationships with a foundation of empathy, understanding and trust. When you find someone, who understands and can empathize with what your going through, it lessens the sense of loneliness you experience during adversity. Having a support system with individuals who can validate your feelings and experiences and genuinely care about you goes a long way in fostering resilience. This connection can be one-on-one or through a group.
When you take care of yourself, you equip your body and mind with the energy to be able to face challenges. Focusing on proper nutrition, proper sleep, and regular exercise are keys to fostering resilience and managing stress.
Focus on Positive Coping
When focusing on overall wellness, I encourage you to also focus on positive coping tools. It can be easy to reach for a drink, substances, or food when you are feeling overwhelmed. But doing so is only masking your pain, rather than healing it. Mindfulness, meditation, journaling, prayer, and gratitude are some tools that are effective in keeping you in the present moment. They aide you in keeping your focus on the positive.
When you are in need, seeking out help is key to develop your resilience. Although some people have adequate coping tools and can manage through stress, adversity and trauma, there are times when someone may get stuck or have difficulty moving forward. This can involve connecting with a group to your specific need, such as a grief and loss group after the loss of a loved one. This can also be through connection with a mental health professional.
Resilience is not something we are born with; it is something we develop.
It is also something that does not become strong overnight. Like a muscle, we must practice and train daily to build our resilience. Set small, measurable, attainable, and realistic goals to begin your process of building and fostering your resilience. For example, some small goals to begin the process may be walking for 10 minutes around the block, setting a bedtime, calling a friend, or scheduling an intake appointment with a mental health professional. Sometimes the smallest step in the right direction ends up being the biggest step of your life.