Erika Pobee-Mensah, M.S., Outreach Coordinator, Counseling & Psychological Services (CAPS)
Resilience is defined as the capacity to recover quickly from difficulties. Some of us are fortunate to naturally have this characteristic. These are people who might be able to overcome relationship difficulties, school and work stress, or even more trying difficulties, such as a traumatic experiences, fairly well without prolonged emotional distress. Conversely, some people have limited resiliency. These are people who might ruminate and overthink about what went wrong, constantly asking “why is this happening to me?” These thoughts can make people feel helpless and worsen overall well-being. While some of us find it more difficult to be resilient, we can certainly develop skills to build up our resiliency, similarly to the way we exercise to build muscle. It takes daily practice and regular reminders, but with a combination of motivation and skills, even those who find it very difficult to overcome hardship can build up their resiliency.
The American Psychological Association identifies four main components to resilience: connection, wellness, healthy thinking, and meaning. Here are some ideas on how to start building these components:
Connection: It is important to continue to prioritize your relationships with others. Difficult times can often cause us to retreat from social interactions. Thus, being able to combat this tendency is important to foster meaningful connections with other people, which can help build resilience. Make a point to reach out to friends, family, and loved ones.
Wellness: Remember to prioritize taking care of yourself, physically and emotionally. Eat nutritious meals regularly, stay active most days of the week, and practice mindful activities such as journaling, yoga, or prayer/meditation.
Healthy Thinking: Practice identifying irrational thoughts, or thoughts that are not based on facts, and challenging them with more rational thinking. Sometimes we find our irrational thoughts come from realistic fears or concerns related to an upsetting event. Practice accepting the fact that the event occurred and acknowledging that circumstances that led to it cannot be changed. Then, spend time focusing on the things you can change that are in the present (i.e., the way you cope with your experiences moving forward).
Meaning: Gaining a sense of purpose/meaning can be helpful in fostering your own self-worth when overcoming an adverse experience. Finding meaning can come through helpful charity work, connecting with others through providing or seeking emotional support, or sometimes making career choices that support a deeper cause.
While changing the way you cope may be difficult at first, building resilience can be helpful in overcoming future difficulties and improve your overall wellness. Take a moment to practice some behaviors that support your resiliency. And remember…we got this, and we are in this together! For more information on resiliency, visit: https://www.apa.org/topics/resilience