This month, our newest team member – psychologist, Rachel Chan – talks about the importance of resilience for good mental health.
The art of resilience is a topic that I am extremely passionate about, as I have seen in my work that resilience very much underpins good psychological health and wellbeing – for people of all ages.
In my sessions with clients, a key focus – irrespective of the issues at hand – is around helping that person to develop and improve their levels of resilience. I have seen that when this skill is developed, people generally appear to develop a greater sense of control over their problems and appear much more capable of generating positive solutions for themselves.
What is resilience?
In order to be better equipped to build our resilience it first helps to understand exactly what it ‘looks’ like.
The Oxford Dictionary describes resilience two ways:
- ‘the ability of a substance or object to spring back into shape; elasticity’ and secondly,
- ‘the capacity to recover quickly from difficulties; toughness’.
Another way to describe resilience might be to see it as a skill or strength – our ability to cope with stress, challenges and change and to confidently adapt to new situations.
Why is it important?
Resilience enables us to approach our lives with a sense of confidence and optimism, and people with greater resilience have been shown to have better mental health overall. Resilient people don’t allow themselves to wallow or dwell on life’s mistakes and negative stuff; rather, they openly acknowledge the situation, learn from their mistakes, and then move forward, freeing themselves up for more positive outcomes in the process.
When we develop our resilience, we can see a more positive image of the future; we know our strengths and capacity for things (and can achieve them without overstretching ourselves), and we can confidently set realistic goals for what we want out of life. When we’re resilient, we also waste less time worrying what others think and we are much less likely to fall prey to peer pressure – which is an excellent tool for children and young people to develop.
How to develop resilience
Depending on our parents’ parenting styles, our past experiences and our habits, we each all have a different capacity for resilience. Developing self-awareness is the best first step, and by noticing our emotions and how we respond to challenges, stress and change we can start to see our patterns. Are they habitual? Or can we take a step back and ‘observe’ our reaction to things?
Another part of self-awareness is knowing our good bits, too. Do you know your best attributes? Are you able to play to your strengths in your day to day life? Getting to grips with what we can and can’t control is another key to mastering a resilient attitude to life, as is looking beyond individual problems and remembering life’s bigger picture.
Looking at our difficulties or challenges and asking ourselves “How can I best tackle this”, “What’s the solution to this?” or “What is this experience trying to teach me?’ means that we can bypass ‘victim mentality’and instead transform our challenges into an opportunity to problem-solve, learn and grow.
The really good news is that no matter what your age, upbringing or past experience resilience isn’t something that should be out of reach. It’s not a fixed personality trait, nor it is not something that you are ‘born with’ – it’s really just a skill, like any other, and can be mastered over time – particularly with the support of a good psychologist.
If you are looking for help to become more resilient, then you might like to consider making an appointment with one of our psychologists so that you can start to develop these skills.
Or, if you would just like to know more about the psychology of resilience perhaps have a look at the following useful links: