The world outside our windows is full of wisdom. We stand to learn so much from nature and its ceaseless cycles of rebirth and regrowth.
There is no better example of such a cycle than the seasons. Just as quickly as the bitter winter winds blow in, they are replaced by the flourishing of spring. In this beautiful transition, nature exhibits a quality that is integral to strong mental health: resilience.
Resilience has become somewhat of a buzzword in the mental health world. The more it is researched in relation to prevention and treatment outcomes, the more we have come to understand its importance in the wellness of all people. But what does resilience really mean? And if it’s so important, how can we focus on building resilience in our lives and the lives of those around us?
In this blog post, we’ll dig into all things resilience: what it means, why it’s important, and strategies for increasing your own.
Resilience is defined in a variety of ways. In psychology, resilience is defined as the process of adapting well in the face of adversity, trauma, tragedy, threats or significant sources of stress (American Psychological Association). In science, it’s defined as the amount of energy some material can absorb and still return to its original state (Penn State). Yet another definition in the psychiatric world is the personal qualities that enable one to thrive in the face of adversity (Connor & Davidson, 2003).
All these definitions speak to the central identifying element of resilience: the ability to bounce back and recover after change or struggle.
What resilience might mean—and look like—in your life is unique to you. It’s important to conceptualize it in a way that feels true to your experiences and personality.
Now it’s time to define it for yourself! Use this Guide To Growing Resilience to write down what resilience means to you. We challenge you to keep this definition somewhere where you can see it everyday.
No matter how hard we may try to avoid it, change is inevitable. With change, we are forced to adapt, adjust and overcome. First, resilience is important because without it, we cannot move, progress and grow through change.
Here are 7 additional benefits of being resilient:
Without meeting your basic needs like sleep, movement, and nutrition, your mind and body are much less capable of bouncing back.
Self-care gets a bad rap as a "soft" skill. We challenge you to flip that script because the truth is, practicing a consistent and effective self-care routine is difficult, takes discipline and is essential to your physical and mental health. A truly effective self-care routine involves engaging in practices that give you energy, purpose and joy — and this looks different for everyone. Identify what high-impact self-care practices you can engage in daily and stick to them.
The more fulfilled you feel on an average day, the quicker you will be able to recover when hardship does strike.
Earlier we identified that social support is a quality of resilient people. We can actively build resilience by surrounding ourselves with compassionate people who also value resilience, especially in times of challenge.
If the people we interact with the most are people who choose innovation and perseverance in trying situations, we are much more likely to internalize and replicate this ourselves.
Take inventory of those you’re closest to. Do they fit your definition of resilience? Do they exhibit it in their own lives and encourage you to do the same? For the ones that do, keep them close — their positive influence reaches farther than you may know.
Radical acceptance is the practice of accepting a situation — and the emotions that come with it — without trying to change it. Acceptance does not mean approval: a person can strongly disapprove of what is happening, yet still choose to radically accept it. According to Marsha Linehan, the founder of Dialectical Behavioral Therapy, people have 4 options when it comes to challenging situations:
When you can choose radical acceptance, you automatically increase your capacity for resilience. It allows you to let go of heavy emotions like anger that prevent you from bouncing back. Approaching change and struggle with acceptance rather than resistance is an essential part of healing and growth.
Learn more about the steps to radical acceptance in this month’s Guide To Growing Resilience below!
Life is sure to throw a few obstacles in your path. A person lacking resilience may let these obstacles halt their growth, allowing themselves to feel stuck and overwhelmed. A resilient person will lean on their mindset, skills and support systems to navigate their way through or around these roadblocks.
Just like the flowers of spring breaking through the frozen ground, so too can you break through your barriers and flourish. As you look outside this spring & witness the resilience of the season, let it be a reminder to build your own resilience, too!
Practice defining and building your own resilience with this free Guide To Growing Resilience!
American Psychological Association. (2012, January 1). Building your resilience. American Psychological Association. Retrieved March 2023, from https://www.apa.org/topics/resilience/building-your-resilience
Better Together Family Therapy. (2023, January 6). 10 steps for practicing radical acceptance. Better Together Family Therapy. Retrieved March 2023, from https://betterfamilytherapy.com/blog/10-steps-for-practicing-radical-acceptance
Dutton, J. (n.d.). Resiliency and toughness. Resiliency and Toughness | MATSE 81: Materials In Today's World. Retrieved March 2023, from https://www.e-education.psu.edu/matse81/node/2105#:~:text=We%20can%20define%20resilience%20of,return%20to%20its%20original%20state.
Linehan, M. M. (2017). Dbt Skills Training Manual. GUILFORD.
Vaishnavi, S., Connor, K., & Davidson, J. R. (2007). An abbreviated version of the
Connor-Davidson Resilience Scale (CD-RISC), the CD-RISC2: psychometric properties and applications in psychopharmacological trials. Psychiatry research, 152(2-3), 293–297. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.psychres.2007.01.006