What is resilience? Here’s a tip to build yours
At some point in our lives, each of us will endure challenge and suffering. Perhaps it’s the loss of a loved one or a divorce. We may lose our job or have an injury or accident, or we may be dealing with long periods of uncertainty and isolation such as the Covid-19 pandemic. There are many challenges that we all face as we navigate life’s ups and downs. At some point, life will be be a bit tough for all of us.
When we face these adverse life events, people respond to them differently. Some people can bounce back from adversity with relative ease, seeming to always come out on top. Others may struggle longer and need additional support to help them recover. In recent years, scientists and psychologists have begun to spend time studying those who recover well from negative events in the hope of uncovering how we can teach other those valuable psychological skills needed to overcome challenges in life. Together, these psychological skills make up a concept called resilience.
What is resilience?
Resilience is a hot topic lately. Everyone wants more resilience. But what is it, and what exactly does it mean? Psychological resilience is a bit of a complicated subject with many different theoretical frameworks and definitions. For example, the American Psychological Association (2014) generally defines resilience as an individual’s ability to appropriately adapt to adversity, tragedy, trauma, threat or significant stress. Resilience is thought to promote protective factors that support positive outcomes.
So why would you want to build your resilience?
Resilience is what gives us the ability to cope with stress, trauma and hardship. Those with low levels of resilience are more likely to feel overwhelmed or helpless and rely on unhealthy coping strategies. On the flip side, those with high levels of resilience cope better with stress, are more hopeful, have more positive emotions and higher levels of mental fitness.
Having high levels of resilience doesn’t mean you won’t face challenges; it just means that you may be able to adapt and overcome these challenges better than you would have without these skills.
How can you become more resilient?
Research indicates that about 60% of people may be naturally resilient. However, just like physical fitness, we need to practice regularly to maintain our mental fitness and resilience. Below are a few techniques you can use to strengthen your resilience and teach others how to develop their own resiliency skills.
One particularly useful framework for building resilience is the BOUNCE BACK framework developed by Drs Toni Nobel and Helen McGrath. Each letter in BOUNCE BACK stands for a critical area that you can focus on to strengthen your resilience.
Here is a summary of the BOUNCE BACK framework:
Bad times don’t last. Things always get better. Stay optimistic.
Other people can help you if you talk to them. Get a reality check.
Unhelpful thinking makes you more upset. Think again.
Nobody is perfect- not you and not others.
Concentrate on the positives (no matter how small) and use laughter.
Everybody experiences sadness, hurt, failure, rejection and setbacks sometimes, not just you. They are a normal part of life. Try not to personalize them.
Blame fairly. How much of what happened was due to you, to others and to bad luck or circumstances?
Accept what can’t be changed (but try to change what you can change first).
Catastrophising exaggerates your worries. Don’t believe the worst possible picture.
Keep things in perspective. It’s only part of your life.
APPLI have put together a ‘Bouncing Back and Leaping Forward’ Mental Fitness Toolkit that teaches you strategies and practices on how to implement these into your life as habits as we experience inevitable challenge and suffering at times.
To learn how you can apply the Bounce Back framework in your own life, checkout our Mental Fitness Toolkit…. http://shop.appli.edu.au