Resilience: 5 Keys for Living and Recovery

Resilience is a person’s ability to bounce back from and deal with stress and the pressures of life.  Resilience also helps a person to cope with daily challenges, recover from disappointments, and recover from trauma. Building our level of resilience is very important to our overall wellbeing.  Building resilience can help by:

  •  Helping you to identify risk factors that reduce resilience
  • Helping you to develop realistic goals and solve problems
  •  Increasing the ability to cope with stressors, crisis, and negative emotions
  • Improving interpersonal relationships
  • Promoting self-awareness
  • Helping to prevent maladaptive coping
  • Facilitating recovery from substance use, trauma, and emotional distress

There are 5 core domains to pay attention to when evaluating your level or resilience:

  •  Emotional health
  • Physical health
  •  Spiritual health
  • Interpersonal Relationship health
  • Mental health

Here are 5 keys to improving our resilience:

1.    Be optimistic. Optimism is about being real; an optimist looks at situations as they are and not as worse than they are.  Optimists see hard times as temporary and understand that feelings change with time.  Those who see the world in absolute terms and use words like “always” and “never” tend to be less optimistic.  Rather than saying “this always happens to me,” consider the lessons that you could take from your experience.

2.    Shift your focus.  Perspective impacts how we view the world around us.  Focus on positive aspects rather than negative ones.  Keeping a gratitude journal can help you look for the positives in life.

3.    Acknowledge difficult feelings.  Expressing difficult emotions appropriately leads to more happiness, improved healthy, and personal growth.  Try documenting your negative feelings that arise from stressful situations.  Explore your feelings and why you feel them.  Ask what you can do in the situation to feel better.  If there is nothing you can think of to do, ask yourself how you can soothe yourself.  Focus on what you can control. Moreover, ask yourself what you have learned through your difficulties.

4.    Connect with others.  Connection with others can reduce depression, anxiety, and reduce stress hormones in the body.  Connection can be face-to-face, via social media, or even with a pet to experience health benefits.  You can also connect with others who have had similar experiences as you by joining support groups such as, Alcoholics Anonymous (AA), Codependents Anonymous (Co-Da), or a trauma survivors network.

5.    Be present.  Focusing on the present moment rather than the past or things that might happen in the future increases our stress and ability to focus in the here-and-now.  Focusing on the present will help you to be more attuned with yourself and others.  Mindfulness is the practice of purposefully focusing on the present without judgement.  Practicing mindfulness will help you to be present and experience the moment in front of you rather than focusing on the past or the future.  Mindfulness allows you to heal faster, reduce depression, reduce stress, and reduce the negative impact of crises (especially when practiced over time).  Mindfulness exercises include meditation, yoga, deep breathing, and imagery exercises. 

Using these five keys will allow you to build your resilience and live your most optimal life. 

Tanisha Johnson