Three ways to build resiliency
Every person experiences ups and downs in their life, from everyday challenges to traumatic events. Despite these challenges, people can exhibit a remarkable degree of adaptability in face of stressful events. Some individuals may seem to be more resilient than others, but most are not aware that this is an ability that can be learned and developed.
Over the years, a lot of studies have been done on resiliency. Early studies focused on understanding its process which later changed into learning how it can help us evolve positively. Even though genetic predisposition undeniably influences one’s resilience, Erika J Wolf et al. (2018) revealed that its heritability is only 25%, whereas the rest is influenced by environmental factors.
Resilience is a complex construct that involves behaviors, thoughts, and actions. The proportion of these factors vary in different risk contexts which then contributed to the notion that it is a process. Accordingly, it can be seen as an attribute or a trait possessed in varying degrees by an individual, a dynamic process with bidirectional relations to developmental and environmental factors, and as an outcome in the face of stress and adversity. Based on this concept, here are some strategies to increase your resiliency.
If resilience is the ability, self-care is the behavioral strategy to overcome difficulties. Self-care helps mitigate stress response to make it manageable. Moreover, practicing self-care promotes wellness and restores a sense of wellbeing during difficult times. However, people often think of self-care as a recreational activity which is not exactly true.
Practicing a healthy lifestyle that includes proper nutrition, regular physical activities, and ample sleep — all of which are basic self-care routines. Other ways to practice self-care include developing better hygiene and applying health protocols, especially during this recent pandemic. Also, rather than consuming alcohol, drugs, or other harmful substances to eliminate stress, you can instead try to explore other, healthier options such as seeking medical care when needed.
Spending some quality “me time” could also be part of self-care to balance between your professional and personal life. As the name indicates, it is more about time to give yourself all the love and positive energy that you need. Scott Barry Kaufman demonstrated in his study that 72% of participants produced new ideas in the shower which is considerably more than at their workplace. The heat and the feeling of isolation of this moment can also help unblock your thought process.
Perception in life
One can find their purpose in life through deep contemplation of what they want to do and what they’ve experienced so far, followed by developing realistic plans to achieve these goals. Working towards your aspirations in life will help broaden your view of other people’s circumstances. Being cognizant of others may help strengthen your own resilience in the face of adversity. It may also contribute to a healthier regulation of any negative emotions you may experience.
Interactions with others, however, could influence one’s thoughts, which in turn, affects one’s feelings and behaviors. Judith S. Beck (1964) hypothesized that people’s emotions and behaviors are influenced by their perceptions of events rather than by the event itself.
The key here is to challenge inaccurate thoughts which have negative impacts. Keep things in perspective by identifying and eliminating irrational thoughts. Then, follow it up by maintaining an optimistic view by learning from the past and accepting change as a part of life.
Challenging inaccurate thoughts is also needed when interpreting new information. For example, researchers have concluded that exposure to stressful experiences enhances resilience as the result of a more efficient adrenaline release. However, it only refers to exposure when stressful events are perceived as challenging rather than a threat. The thought process to arrive at this conclusion is important because literal interpretation may lead to more detrimental effects by engaging yourself in so-called ‘bad’ exposure.
As social beings, people need to rely on each other as social connections hold importance in one’s life. It promotes resilience to deal with negative emotions such as feelings of distress and worry, especially in these difficult times as all aspects of life recover from the global pandemic. Therefore, building a support network should be prioritized.
Trying to join a community could be the first step in broadening a network. Connecting with people who can understand and empathize without judgment of a person’s situation can also be a great source of emotional support, especially when experiencing hardships. Nevertheless, good communication skills are needed to strengthen the relationship such as assertive communication. Assertiveness is an effective and non-confrontational way of expressing one’s thoughts regarding a particular situation or concept.
Another thing that needs to be pointed out is that social support acts as a resource for one’s resilience. Resilience is never about facing difficulties alone with your own resources. It means knowing the boundaries of what you can do and seeking help from others when needed. While it has been mentioned that you can find support within your community, seeking help within your family and friends or formal settings with professionals is also an option.
Resilience is the ability to adapt and recover from adverse events. As such, resilience can be learned and developed by using strategies that focus on behaviors, thoughts, and actions. Self-care behaviors, healthy thinking, and gathering social support are recommended strategies to help build your resilience.
These strategies highlighted not only internal factors but also the influence of external factors in resilience. You can try to adopt a healthy lifestyle and thinking to improve on it, but there are limitations in what you can do alone. It is also a question of how long you can survive fighting alone, especially in a period of uncertainty. Supporting each other would help enhance your resiliency.