What is Resilience?
Resilience is often thought of as a quality that some people have and described as the ability to ‘bounce back’. Lots of social and psychological research confirms this is only part of the story.
According to the charity Mind:
“Resilience is not just your ability to bounce back, but also your capacity to adapt in the face of challenging circumstances, whilst maintaining a stable mental wellbeing.”
This makes sense to us at Eat, Move, Be Happy. We would also add resilience is learning from tough experiences, gaining confidence and growing emotionally stronger as a result. We particularly like thinking about resilience as something everyone can develop with practice, rather than a personality trait that people either do or don’t have.
This is where this story continues…
We all face and cope with challenges and difficulties every day. Life rarely goes according to plan and adapting to situations is something we all do, often without really thinking about it.
We have all experienced challenges, for example a bigger life event such as illness, a bereavement or relationship breakdown. There are also times when nothing seems to go right and although each challenge in isolation may seem innocuous for those looking in from the outside, it feels totally overwhelming and insurmountable from the inside. Burning that cake or forgetting to order extra milk (can you guess what has happened to me this week!) can be ‘the straw that broke the camel’s back’ or ‘the icing on the cake’ and feel like the end of the world.
In much the same way as mental health and physical fitness is personal to us (depending on context, circumstances and life events), so is resilience. For more on understanding why our mental health might change go to How can we fight the stigma against mental illness?
Some people seemingly cope well in the face of adversity and calmly deal with challenges, not giving up and working through the problems faced. The proverbial swan: on the surface, calm, in control and effortlessly moving through the water, yet underneath the water’s surface they are paddling hard.
Others have more of a Tigger approach, springing from one thing to the next with boundless energy, never stopping or put off by the next obstacle.
Whether you are a swan or a Tigger isn’t the issue. The fact that you have a way of facing difficult situations, challenges and uncertainty, is.
Even the most resilient person can have moments of self-doubt, be unsure of the right choices to make and get things wrong. This is not about being perfect. The important things about your resilience is to recognise:
- Your resilience levels will vary and how you deal with things is up to you
- When your resilience levels are lower and why
- How to build up the resources that increase your resilience
- Where to get support, so you are able to face uncertainty and try to work it through
And sometimes you will try stuff and fail – and that is ok!
How resilient you feel at any given time will depend on a number of factors, for example:
Your general wellbeing
Everyone can relate to feeling less able to cope with things if feeling tired, rundown, poorly or feeling less mentally fit.
Poor sleep and physical health can have a huge impact on our ability to perform as a human, let alone deal with stressful life situations.
You are in the right place – the philosophy of Eat, Move, Be Happy is to challenge your thinking, inspire confidence for you to try stuff and look after your physical and mental wellbeing. Eating better, exercising more and learning and exploring about your mental health and wellbeing so you choose the lifestyle you want, and be happier.
Your confidence level and self-belief will impact how able you feel to deal with a situation. How confident you feel will depend on past experience, knowledge and your understanding of what is required. A completely new situation or one where the perceived risk is greater can mean you are more fearful or doubtful of success and less likely to try.
Your mindset, or the way you think about challenges, will drive your feelings. It makes sense that a positive mindset is more likely to help you resolve the situation than a negative one. If you are a ‘glass half full’ person, focussing on the positives and what you can do will be instinctive. Whereas if you are a “glass is half empty” person, you are more likely to see the barriers and reason why you can’t do something.
Even as a ‘glass half full’ person your resilience levels can fall and the following Top Tips can help:
- Practice focussing on the positive to empower more positive beliefs.
This requires a level of awareness to start with to recognise and acknowledge negative beliefs. Look for ways you can act and things you can do.
- Look at the big picture and set goals to help you take action.
Taking a ‘step back’ from a challenging situation and asking for input from others can help with this.
- Move on to move forwards.
Re-living the issue and playing the ‘if only’ game is not helpful and only serves to undermine self-belief and your positive mindset.
- Seek out and pay attention to positive emotions.
Recognise your successes and acknowledge what you have done well.
- Take control and adopt a proactive attitude.
Changing your narrative to focus on what you can change rather than focusing on what you cannot.
Relationships and connections
For more on connections go to Build Your Wellness Plan.
We all know social connection is important. As humans we are social creatures. How strong you feel in your relationships, how valued and how comfortable are all influential on your wellbeing and therefore your resilience. Tension in a relationship can mean you choose to avoid someone rather than risk conflict, especially if your resilience is low.
Helping others can also be a great source of satisfaction and is the basis for the Give element of the 5 Ways To Wellbeing Wellness Planning.
The important thing is to make time to build connections so you have a network of people you trust, so you can call on when you need to.
Top Tip – It is worth considering:
- Who is in your network and why?
- How do they add value and support you?
- Are there people who can offer a range of support?
- How can you support them and others?
Being aware of, understanding and regulating your emotions is essential to resilience. Allowing space and time to process them, rather than ignoring them, bottling things up, or emotional outbursts. Both of which can lead to feeling overwhelmed and out of control emotionally and be detrimental in the long run.
- Practise to improve your awareness of your emotions and feelings and to express emotions appropriately.
- Feel it, name it, express it. These simple steps can help you be more aware of and process emotions.
- Practising mindfulness is a great way to improve emotional awareness and focus on the here and now.
- Be kind to yourself. Looking after yourself is essential for your wellbeing. Allow time to relax and do the things you enjoy, set realistic expectations and remember, it is not about being perfect.
Your sense of purpose, values and strengths
This is a big topic. Knowing your personal values, strengths and having a clear sense of purpose is important, whether this be in work or in family life. Having a sense of what is important to you – your own moral compass can help you to keep centred when all around there is change.
Your purpose, in the words of Simon Sinek, Your WHY, relates to your cause, your belief? Why do you get out of bed in the morning?
Understanding your purpose is a topic in itself and we will cover this and how you consider this in a separate article.
- Reflect on your purpose – Listening to Simon Sinek’s TED Talk to introduce the idea:
- What is most important to you? What do you value?
- What are your strengths? How do you add value to others?
Building Your Resilience
Remember, we all have resilience and your levels are not fixed. There are some practical things you can do and ways of practising shifting your attitude, your way of being to help you maintain higher levels or boost your resilience when you need it.
This homework section will help you learn more about your resilience levels and how you can practise the Top Tips above to develop your awareness and continue to build your resilience.
Keep up to date
Get a weekly email linking to all the latest updates from the Eat, Move, Be Happy website. You can unsubscribe anytime.
Get in touch
We really like hearing from you. So if you have any questions, comments, requests, feedback or just want to say hello, drop us a line here!