Resilience has joined the list of buzzwords that have become popular over the past number of years and as is true of anything, it is sometimes easy to lose, or confuse, the meaning of a word that is used so frequently and in so many different contexts. We might hope for greater personal resilience in relation to sticking to resolutions or suggest that someone else demonstrate resilience with regard to their ability to take criticism. Whatever the setting or intention, it is important to first ask ourselves; do we really know what resilience means?
To put is simply resilience means; the capacity to bounce back from difficulty. At no point does this definition suggest we ignore that things are difficult or breeze through whatever life throws at us with a stoic smile on our faces. The true meaning of resilience is the ability to recover, even when things have been hard and have possibly drained us of energy and optimism. The reality, however, is that resilience runs out unless we feed it. We cannot expect ourselves, and others, to go through the trials of life with a relentless supply of resilience if we do not commit the time and resources to building a constant reserve. If this year has taught us anything it is the importance of a good, foundational level of wellbeing and self-care because they are the things that help get us through tougher times, especially the ones we least expect.
Some ideas of ways to help build a resilience reserve include:
1. Get enough sleep – that all-important issue of sleep that we always return to. Without sufficient sleep it is difficult to recover from anything including physical injury or emotional tribulation.
2. Work hard on maintaining perspective. The goal here is not to compare our situation to something much worse all of the time but rather to apply it to the context of something bigger and realise that the power of what is causing difficulty relies on how much value you apply to it. Once perspective creeps in, things begin to feel more manageable and the bounce back feels more achievable.
3. Practice reframing thoughts. One thing that often prevents us from recovering from difficulty is how we wallow in it and how we expertly make it something much more severe through the power of our thoughts. If we can shift our thinking from ‘I’m just no good at anything’ to ‘that didn’t go my way but perhaps if I try this I will have more success’. This shift in thinking can help to motivate us and can prevent us from dropping into a negative thought spiral that ultimately suppresses resilience.
These are just some examples of things we can do to help bolster resilience but the key is to ensure we are feeding it, even when things are going well, so it is ready for us when things are hard.