Do you know how to cultivate resilience? Resilience and bouncing back are well understood in recovering from a sports injury. Following favorite players’ comeback stories inspires us, encourages perseverance in pursuing personal goals, and fosters a sense of self-confidence. If they can do it, we can.
Ways to Cultivate Resilience
Looking for ways to cultivate resilience in the face of all life’s challenges is a proactive strategy. It allows you to deal with unexpected upsets and disappointments, pitfalls, and successes in life, including how to cope with trauma, chronic pain, adversity, and tragedy.
“I am not what happened to me. I am what I choose to become.”Carl Jung
Cultivate Resilience: What It’s All About
The American Psychological Association (APA) says that resilience isn’t a trait that people either have or don’t. Instead, resilience “involves behaviors, thoughts and actions that can be learned and developed in anyone.”
An article in Forbes defines resilience as “the capacity for stress-related growth” and states that resilience has two parts related to the way you bounce back and grow:
- Navigating the aftermath of significant work or life adversity and trauma
- Dealing with daily hassles and stress
Studies on Resilience
A study in Health Psychology showed that the frequency and intensity of repeated or chronic everyday life strains are strongly associated with overall health and illness, even more so than major life events.
A 2013 study found that exposure to chronic, frequent negative emotions and the inability to process daily stress exacts a long-term toll on mental health.
According to research published in Trauma, Violence & Abuse, resilience can manifest as “prosocial behaviors or pathological adaptation. It depends on the “quality of the environment.” Suppose individuals suffering from the lasting effects of trauma and adversity have access to resources that help them cope. In that case, they will develop prosocial behaviors that may facilitate healing.
Chronic Pain Patients and Resilience
Rolbieki et al. (2017) explored resilience among patients living with chronic pain. Researchers found that they showed resiliency in four ways:
- Developing a sense of control (actively seeking information and conferring with their doctor to confirm their recommendations
- Actively engaging in medical and complementary treatment
- Making social connections
- Exhibiting acceptance of pain and positive effect
One surprising finding is that chronic stress accelerates aging at the cellular level – in the body’s telomeres. These are the repeating segments of non-coding DNA at the end of chromosomes. Scientists have discovered that telomeres can be lengthened or shortened. So, the goal is to have more days of cell renewal than destruction or wear and tear.
Researchers suggest resilience should be regarded as an emotional muscle. It can be strengthened and cultivated. Dr. Dennis Charney, co-author of “Resilience: The Science of Mastering Life’s Greatest Challenge,” says people can weather and recover from trauma by developing and incorporating 10 resilience skills, including facing fear, optimism, and social support.
Beautiful Ways to Cultivate Resilience
Among the varied ways to develop and cultivate resilience, some are more self-evident than others. Yet each is worth a try when attempting to weather life’s challenges. Call them beautiful ways to cultivate resilience.
Even small steps add to a sense of accomplishment, of being proactive instead of reactive. Start with something you feel confident you can do and ask for help if needed. There’s much to be said about self-empowerment when acting in your best interests. After all, no one else can act for you.
2. Add to coping resources.
Everyone can benefit from having practical coping resources. Combat stress, depression, anxiety, and other emotional, psychological, and physical issues and conditions through:
- Mindful yoga
- Relaxing music
3. Learn flexibility.
Instead of regarding your situation as a no-win, steer towards an attitude of flexibility. Learn the art of compromise: “I may not be able to run a marathon, yet I can manage a walk in the neighborhood with friends.”
In addition, when running into fatigue or pain that prevents you from continuing, congratulate yourself on your effort. You acted to improve your resilience.
- Over time, you’ll get stronger and be able to do more. This adds to your resilience and helps improve your overall physical and mental health.
4. To cultivate resilience, practice optimism.
Science says that some optimism is genetic, while some is learned. You can practice positive self-thinking to see opportunity instead of a dead-end. This means you view a glass as half full instead of half empty. There’s also truth in self-fulfilling attitudes. If you believe you’ll be successful in overcoming adversity, you’re more likely to succeed. The opposite is true: If you think you’ll fail, you will.
5. Take advantage of support.
It’s okay to ask for help when you need it. When you know you have support and are willing to use it, you exercise prosocial behavior. Similarly, please support others who may need help.
- Prioritize relationships and build connections. Trustworthy friends who show compassion can help you strengthen your resilience.
6. Avoid personalizing.
There’s no point in blaming or thinking about your situation. Besides being counter-productive, it makes you feel worse. The solution? Use healthy coping measures that worked well before. Stop ruminating about what happened to you.
7. Regard the setback or disappointment as temporary.
Nothing lasts forever. This includes life-altering events, trauma, adversity, and pain. You can navigate this turbulent and emotionally trying time.
- Realize this is temporary, and things will improve. Be actively involved in your healing process.
8. Write your new story.
Psychiatrists and psychologists call this “reframing,” which refers to changing your story to focus on the opportunities revealed.
For example, say you’ve returned from active deployment in a war zone with extensive physical and psychological injuries. Instead of being stuck in negativity, allow yourself to:
- Center on other senses, traits, and skills
- Use resources: your empathy, understanding, ability to solve problems, a vast support network, loving family, and close friends
9. Cultivate gratitude as you cultivate resilience.
When you are grateful and actively cultivate gratitude, you take advantage of an essential part of resilience and contentment in life.
- The more you develop gratitude, the more resilient you’ll become.
10. Remind yourself of other victories.
This may be an intense challenge when failures and negativity seem inevitable. Yet, now is when you must remind yourself of your successes. Also recall examples of impossible hurdles you’ve overcome, and victories you’ve scored with your perseverance skills.
11. Enhance spirituality.
Religion and spirituality predict resilience in various populations. These include returning war veterans with posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD), trauma sufferers, those who experience abuse or violence, and chronic pain patients.
- Prayer, self-reflection, and communicating with a Higher Power are a healing balm. It may help many avoid negative coping behaviors, such as drinking and drug use.