At some point in your life, something bad is bound to happen to you. This isn’t pessimism, this is realism. Take a second to think about all the less than ideal things that can possibly happen in life. You might get laid off. You might experience a natural disaster. You might fall very ill. You’re more than likely to experience a break up, or have someone around you die.
Life is a series of ups and downs, and this is a fact we can’t change. What we can change, though, is how we react to the negative situations which arise, and perhaps even more importantly, how we bounce back. Let’s talk about resilience.
Resilience and Mental Health
Merriam Webster’s definition of resilience is “an ability to recover from or adjust easily to misfortune or change.” Pretty straightforward, right? For a more psychological definition, I spoke to Jill Daino, LCSW. Her definition of being resilient is, “having the capacity to recover from adversity.” Luckily, she believes this important skill is one that each and every one of us can develop.
“Given that everyone experiences challenges in life that can be overwhelming — natural disasters, interpersonal trauma, significant financial stressors, and a variety of other life events — the ability to recover and move through the pain that is associated with these events is a vital part of life,” Daino said.
Being resilient is absolutely crucial to maintaining good mental health. While it’s totally okay to feel sad sometimes and experience emotional pain, we don’t want to mope and dwell on horrible experiences forever. Daino adds, “Being resilient and tapping into the capacity to ‘bounce back’ after a difficult, painful, possibly overwhelming experience enables us to rebuild our life and emotional reserves — and oftentimes significant growth occurs and strengthens us for the future.”
Here are some tips on how to be resilient as a rubber band.
Tips to Remain Resilient
Be kind to yourself
Nurture yourself while you find the time to heal and bounce back. It’s not a one size fits all process. Some people are more resilient than others, and being less resilient doesn’t make you a lesser person. Once you have bounced back from a tragedy, it’s normal and inevitable to revisit the event and the feelings associated with it.
Don’t beat yourself up for having a bad day, for crying, or for being anxious. Allow yourself to feel. Holding in emotions does the soul no good. The healing process is not the same for everyone, and we should avoid comparing our own healing process to somebody else’s. Show yourself some love!
Ask for help
“If someone is struggling after something bad has happened the first thing they should know is they are not alone,” Daino advises, “Help is readily available, and they can get the support they need to recover. Many people think they need to figure things out on their own.”
“They don’t want to burden family or friends,” she said, “yet reaching out for support at these difficult times can make a significant difference in life. It is a sign of strength to know when we need help and be able to ask for it.”
Don’t isolate yourself
Humans are social creatures, and while it’s all too easy to isolate yourself when you’re hurting, being around others is a great tool for healing and can make a significant difference. Friends and family can create a nurturing safe space.
“Human beings are amazingly resilient and capable,” Daino explains, “Having a safe space to discuss what has gone on while also being able to strategize how to rebuild and recover is invaluable. While feeling better doesn’t happen overnight, it is possible.”
If you’re the type of person who has your whole life planned out in specific detail, you are going to need to be flexible after facing a hardship. You’ll have to realize that life may have just created a new path for you, and you’re going to have to roll with it.
If you’re an optimist (or even if you’re not) you can go with the whole, “everything happens for a reason” belief. Be introspective and be flexible in figuring out what’s next. What door opened after another just closed?
Practice Self Care
Self-care is something you should always do, but definitely kick it up a notch when times are rough. Experiment with different activities to see which make you feel best both physically and mentally.
Take a bath, treat yourself to a massage, go for a run, or meditate. Writing in a journal or creating art can be especially cathartic and help you to release your emotions.
Practice resilience over inaction
So next time you’re experiencing a hardship (or maybe you are right now), keep those tips in mind. Even following just one of them can help you bounce back. Soon enough, you’ll be feeling like yourself again, and you’ll be stronger and ready for the next thing life throws at you.