What is Resilience?
Every single person experiences setbacks, difficulties, stressors, and failures throughout their life. Financial stress, relationship problems, health issues, work stress, a serious accident, social justice issues, a global pandemic, or the death of a loved one are all examples of adversities that could drastically affect your mental, physical, emotional, and spiritual health.
People respond differently to life’s challenges, experiencing a unique blend of thoughts, emotions, and coping mechanisms. Overall, people tend to adapt to stress or life-changing situations over time, due in large part to resilience.
The American Psychological Association defines resilience as “the process of adapting well in the face of adversity, trauma, tragedy, threats or even significant sources of stress.” We will all face situations that are painful to experience, but resilient people understand that these situations don’t have to determine the outcome of their life. Resilience empowers you to grow, strengthen yourself, and improve your life.
Domains of Resilience
There are 4 primary domains of resilience:
- Physical resilience includes your strength, endurance, and ability to recover when your body is sick.
- Mental resilience includes your attention span, ability to focus and think clearly, and your capacity to incorporate multiple points of view in conversations with others and in life.
- Emotional resilience includes your ability to adapt to stressful situations, ability to self regulate, level of self-compassion and self-belief, and ability to have a positive outlook.
- Spiritual resilience includes your commitment to your own values and beliefs and your tolerance of others values and beliefs.
What Resilience is Not
Being resilient does not mean that life will be perfect. You will still experience difficulty and stress, and you will feel emotions like sadness, anger, or grief. Resilience is not about “hardening up” or “toughing it out.” Suffering adversity or trauma is often accompanied by stress and emotional pain. The goal isn’t to be rid of all pain and difficult emotions, but to strengthen our ability to relate to painful emotions, increase our capacity to adapt to adversity, and move forward in a healthy manner.
How to Strengthen Your Resilience
Resilience is not a personality trait that only certain people possess. Instead, it involves thoughts and behaviors that can be intentionally practiced and cultivated over time. To increase your resilience and your capacity to adapt and grow from life’s difficulties, try these strategies.
Maintain a positive outlook.
How you think can determine how you feel, and resilience is strongly tied to your emotional state. When you spend an extended amount of time stuck in negative emotions – frustrated, angry, sad, overwhelmed – it depletes you of your energy and chips away at your resilience. On the other hand, positive emotions – love, appreciation, happiness, curiosity, peace, compassion – hold great power for renewing your capacity to recover from the stressors of life.
Keep things in perspective.
When things get difficult, it can be easy to slip into patterns of irrational thinking, like catastrophizing the situation or thinking the world is out to get you. When you try to notice yourself reverting to these destructive ways of thinking, you can adopt a more balanced, realistic perspective. Even if you can not change a situation, you can change how you interpret it and respond to it.
Accept what you can not change.
There will always be things in your life that you do not have the power to change. By focusing on the circumstance that you do have control over, you can uplift and encourage yourself to take positive action.
Mindfulness is the ability to be fully present to what is happening right now. By cultivating a non-judgemental awareness of what is happening in this moment, both inside and outside, you can improve your emotional regulation, reduce your stress levels, and increase your capacity for resilience. Mindfulness is a great technique that you can use to stay balanced at any point in life.
Practice other stress reduction techniques.
Ask yourself, “What brings me peace?” Then do more of that. Some ideas include journaling, yoga, exercise, breathing exercises, creative practices (painting, photography, cooking), walking, gratitude practices, taking a warm bath, progressive muscle relaxation, getting a massage, stretching, laughing, spending time with a friend or family member, or listening to music.
The Functional Medicine of Idaho health coaches offer a Heart Math Shared Medical Visit that teaches you a stress reduction technique that facilitates a coherent heart rhythm, which helps build resilience capacity and energy reserves. Call our office to sign up: (208) 385-7711.
Avoid negative outlets.
During particularly stressful situations, it can be tempting to cope with alcohol, drugs, or other substances in order to reduce the pain. Using substances to deal with emotional pain is like putting a bandaid on a gaping wound – it doesn’t actually fix the problem. When you are feeling stressed and overwhelmed, focus on giving your body the proper resources to manage stress instead of trying to be rid of the feelings altogether.
Eat nutritious food.
The food you choose to eat is either promoting your health or making your body work harder for health. When your body has to work harder for health, it will have a harder time giving you the energy and emotional presence you need in order to handle difficulties. Eat whole, unprocessed foods, like colorful vegetables, low glycemic fruits, healthy fats, legumes, and animal proteins. Eat fat and protein with every meal. Avoid processed, sugary foods and beverages, caffeine, and alcohol.
The Functional Medicine of Idaho nutritionist can help you develop a customized plan of high-quality, nutrient-dense foods to address imbalances and foster the connection between nourishment and healing. Call our office to schedule an appointment: (208) 385-7711.
Get proper sleep.
Sleep dictates how well we perform mentally, physically, spiritually, and sexually. Improving your sleep can help balance hormones, improve digestion and metabolism, boost immune function, and improve mental, emotional, spiritual, and physical health.
The Functional Medicine of Idaho health coaches offer a Sleep Shared Medical Visit that teaches you how to optimize your hormones, routine, nutrition, and environment for quality sleep. Call our office to sign up: (208) 385-7711.
Move your body.
Regular exercise can strengthen your body to adapt to stress and reduce the toll of emotions like anxiety or depression.
Develop strong personal connections.
Are the relationships in your life building you up and giving you strength? Having a range of positive, supportive, and empathetic connections with trustworthy individuals who validate your feelings will support your developing skill of resilience. When going through a stressful or traumatic situation, you may feel the urge to isolate yourself, but it’s important to accept help and be around people who encourage you. If you don’t have good, supportive people in your life, take steps to find them by joining a club, a group, or a class to meet new people.
If you feel like you need some guidance on developing resilience in your own life, our health coaches are here to help. Click here to learn more.