Everyone will at some time or another experience life events and situations that tests them emotionally, but why is it some people seem to handle crises more easily than others? How is it they can bounce back from both minor and major setbacks and stresses with greater ease? Well, it all depends on their level of emotional resilience, the greater it is, the easier we find it to cope with difficult and challenging situations.
What is emotional resilience?
The word ‘resilience’ comes from the Latin word ‘resilio’ meaning to ‘bounce back’. Emotional resilience however, is more than just our ability to bounce back when life gets tough. It is a measure of our adaptability and our ability to maintain a good level of mental health in stressful situations or crises -our capacity to be mentally flexible and adaptable in our response to adverse events and negative experiences.
Originally associated with helping trauma and disaster victims, in more recent years it has become a key tool in helping people deal with pressured environments, the stresses and life events in everyday life.
The importance of emotional resilience.
The reason why it’s so important to our wellbeing, is because it acts kind of like a protection and prevention system, keeping us safe and allowing us to manage emotional situations that may, otherwise, be too overwhelming or cause mental difficulties. Being more emotionally robust helps us to ride life’s waves rather than being pulled under by the current. It assists us in…Challenging negative thoughts when times are tough.
- See crises as challenges to overcome.
- Develop coping tools.
- Monitor our emotional responses and adapt accordingly to the situation.
Aren’t some people just more resilient than others?
The way in which we navigate the challenges that life throws at us and our level of resilience is often as unique as we are, it can depend on factors such as past experiences, age, role models and the level of trauma a person has been exposed to. How well we adapt to stressful situations and life changing events can have a big impact on our general wellbeing. Yes, it’s true, that some people are more naturally resilient than others and although it has to be said,that you can’t necessarily change the factors that shaped your emotional responses and psyche, the key point to remember is that you can learn to become more emotionally resilient.
12 Ways to Build Emotional Resilience:
- Mindset- Balancing a more optimistic outlook while still remaining realistic about the world and your situation. Acknowledge the negative side of your situation but not dwelling on it indefinitely. Actively seeking positive aspects of a situation can help to open up choices, steer you away from victim mentality and minimise the setbacks.
- Empathy- Practicing empathy for others helps to build our own self-worth making us feel more capable and confident in dealing with matters.
- Journal- Writing down worries, making note of your emotional responses can help reduce stress and give you an insight to how your are dealing with events. This can help you to identify solutions or ways you can adapt in order to cope better.
- Sense of humour- This one can’t be readily applied to every situation, but being able to laugh at life’s difficulties or at yourself can help to alter the body’s response to stress and diffuse tension.
- Self-awareness- Understanding what you are feeling and why can help you to move through your emotions instead of becoming paralysed by them.
- Social Support- Surrounding yourself with a trustworthy supportive network of people, can help you to get through difficult and stressful times by building up your own emotional strength. Sharing thoughts and feelings and asking for feedback, can help to strengthen your resilience. Connect with good friends that champion you and use online or local resources, groups, forums etc that give you constructive advice not just an invite to a pity party.
- Self-care- Look after yourself on all levels, healthy eating, healthy relationships, exercise, rest and relaxation. Establishing a good self care routine nurtures self- worth and confidence and boost physical and mental strength.
- Reflection- Learning to reflect on how you’ve dealt with past situations and experiences will help you to recognise your strengths and weaknesses. You will be able to identify what worked well for you and what didn’t, and use that knowledge to help you during future challenging times.
- Identity- Developing a strong sense identity can help you to become more self-assured with who you are and develop more confidence in your abilities to cope with what life throws at you.
- Acceptance- Being able to accept your changed circumstances for what they are- a part of life’s natural ebb and flow, can help you to reconcile your feelings and start working through your pain, stress etc earlier, enabling a move into forward action. Accepting your emotions allows you to move into them, rather than side-stepping them; being able to fully feel, teaches you that your emotions are nothing to be fear. Sometimes the fear of letting yourself feel can prolong the impact of an event.
- Self- awareness- Increasing levels of self -awareness allows you to develop a good level of instinct, become more in touch with your needs. It helps you to recognise those small subtle changes in your mood and body, making it much easier to identify what your feeling. If you know what it is your truly feeling then they become easier manage. It also helps to prevent you being ‘hijacked’ by your emotions and slipping into overwhelm when confronted with unexpected changes.
- Personal Mantra- Create a personal mantra to remind yourself of your own power and abilities i.e ‘ I am bold, I am courageous, I am resilient’