"Resilience is the process of adapting well in the face of adversity, trauma, tragedy or significant stress---it means bouncing back from difficult experiences," says Patricia O'Gorman, Ph.D., and a spokeswoman for the American Psychological Association. The things that test one's resilience can come in the form of a single, traumatic event such as an accident or the loss of a job. It can also be the result of a chronic condition such as depression or anxiety. A question that researchers want to understand is why some people bounce back from a life-stressor and others don't?
Research has determined that resilience isn't a trait people either have or don't have---it involves behaviors, thoughts and actions that can be learned and developed. There are several strategies they've identified for building resilience:
• Nurture a positive view of yourself. Develop confidence in your ability to solve problems and trust your instincts.
• Avoid seeing crises as insurmountable problems. "You can't prevent stressful events from happening, but you can change how you interpret and respond to these events," says Dr. O'Gorman. "Try keeping a long-term perspective."
• Accept that change is a part of living. Certain goals no longer may be attainable as a result of adverse situations. Accepting circumstances that can't be changed can help you focus on circumstances you can affect.
• Look for opportunities for self-discovery. Many people who have experienced tragedies and hardship report better relationships, a greater sense of strength, an increased sense of self-worth and a greater appreciation for life.
• Make connections. Good relationships with family, friends or others are important. Accept help and support from those who care about you.
• Take care of yourself. Pay attention to your own needs and feelings. Engage in activities you enjoy and find relaxing. Exercise regularly, get enough sleep, eat a healthful diet and limit alcohol consumption.
Getting help when you need it is crucial in building resilience. "Beyond caring family members and friends, you may want to turn to support groups, mental health professionals or spiritual advisers if you're not able to bounce back from a setback on your own," says Dr. O'Gorman. By teaching ourselves to reframe a difficult experience into a more constructive one, we can become more resilient.
If you'd like to discuss something in your life with a COPE counselor, contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org.
• Providers are beginning to bridge the gap between medical and mental care, forming partnerships aimed at improving patients' physical and mental health, and reducing costs at the same time. Such holistic projects are underway in numerous states, including California, New York, Washington, and Florida. Learn More
• How Confident Are You? Men tend to overestimate their abilities by some 30% according to a Columbia Business School study. By comparison, women tend to underestimate their abilities and it is holding them back. Many psychologists believe that, on balance, a bit of over-confidence in life is better than a bit of under-confidence because it propels us to try things, to take action and to live a more fulfilled life. Take the Confidence Code Quiz