More mental health professionals are speaking out on the importance of resilience in helping counteract serious conditions like depression and anxiety. If you feel that your resilience reserves are running low, there are ways to help build them back up.
When facing hardship, many of us have been urged to “stay strong” or “toughen up,” or even told that we just have to “tough it out.” But what does this really mean? Are you being encouraged to discover and cultivate inner strength, or being pushed to simply be stoic and repress your feelings?
Researchers are agreeing that resilience is key to overcoming significant challenges and combatting common mental health disorders like depression and anxiety. Resilience isn’t measured by your ability to “tough it out” – feeling your emotions is a natural and healthy part of processing hardship. Resilience is about the way in which you can adapt to address and surpass the problems that you are facing. It’s having the strength to respond directly to a challenge, and the flexibility to make changes in order to find a way around it. The more resilient you are, the more likely you will be able to move past a situation rather than be completely overwhelmed by it.
Why is Resilience Important for Our Overall Health?
Resilience encompasses our ability to find constructive, healthy ways to handle life’s challenges. By being resilient, we tend to:
- Cultivate a positive outlook, which helps us bounce back more quickly
- Manage stress more effectively
- Be aware of and attentive to our physical health
- Reach out for additional support and resources when needed
Those who lack resilience have difficulty processing and moving through emotional turmoil, which can fuel depression and anxiety. They may turn to unhealthy coping mechanisms as a way to try to manage the pain they feel. These can include:
- Trying to numb or suppress emotions
- Self-medication through drugs or alcohol
- Engaging in unprotected sex, gambling, binge eating, or other high-risk activities
- Isolating or cutting off potential pathways of support
These destructive coping mechanisms can result in long-term negative impacts to both physical and mental health, and indefinitely prolong an effective solution to managing stress and processing trauma. Building resilience is critical in ensuring a healthy mind and body that are ready to take on new challenges, while recognising and appreciating the joy that life brings as well.
What are Some Ways That I Can Build Resilience?
Many of us have natural tendencies towards resilience as a way to deal with stress and emotional trauma. However, these can get worn down over time, after repeated traumas, or with particularly challenging circumstances. Actively developing resilience is one way to help make sure you have the reserves you need to bounce back when things are difficult.
1. Connect with your support system
Resilient people know who they can go to when things get overwhelming. Whether it is venting your stress to a loved one who knows how to listen, processing old trauma with a trusted therapist, or joining a support group to share experiences and wisdom, breaking isolation and establishing solid channels of communication is critical in coming back from hardship.
2. Cultivate positivity
Having a positive outlook doesn’t mean being blindly optimistic about life. It is more about understanding that there is joy and meaning which can be found amidst hardship and challenges. Being open to this reality helps us find a sense of purpose, an ability to recognise and appreciate good things, and a reason to keep going.
3. Take care of your health
Being physically or emotionally depleted immediately begins to erode our resilience. Ensuring that we’re taking care of our basic needs – eating well, sleeping enough, and moving our bodies in a way that builds strength and flexibility – helps create the foundation we need to overcome stress and challenge.
4. Use the wisdom you’ve gained
Your past experiences have the potential to give you deeper insights into who you are. Being open to processing your past, even when it is painful, allows you to move forward in your understanding of yourself, and can guide your future behaviour in a positive direction.
5. Work towards your purpose
Identifying who you want to be and what you’d like to do with your life sparks motivation, which is a key factor in resilience. The drive to do something which is important to you can help propel you forward even when external factors are creating obstacles, or when you’re feeling exhausted and overwhelmed. Taking time to rest and reconnect with your sense of purpose is a key part of developing your inner strength.
6. Know What Nourishes Your Spirit
Being familiar with what makes you feel better when you’re stressed or upset is also important in building resilience. Whether it’s going out with friends, taking a walk somewhere quiet, working out at the gym, or writing it all down in your journal, connecting with the activities that bring you a sense of joy and calm is a key factor in navigating times of trouble.
7. Be Aware of When You’re Working Against Yourself
Negative patterns of thought often play a key role in eroding resilience, though many people are only somewhat aware of them. Learning to recognise and analyse these destructive mental habits is an important first step in changing the way you approach a problem. Common patterns of thought that contribute to a lack of resilience include:
- Feeling sorry for yourself, and telling yourself that you are unable to change your situation
- Relying on external validation, rather than cultivating your self-esteem and sense of self-worth
- Defining situations as “failures” and using those as a reason to stop pursuing goals or interests
Established patterns of thought can be difficult to change on your own, and if you recognise that these may be part of what’s holding you back from developing your inner strength, you may want to seek additional support from a therapist. A mental health professional can help you understand and address the root causes of these thoughts, and develop ways to begin to alter them so that they are more constructive.
Building Resilience at The Dawn’s Mental Health Retreat
The Dawn Wellness Centre and Rehab is a mental health retreat in Thailand that fosters an environment of personal growth and healing for people from all over the world who want to change their lives and overcome addiction or mental health issues.
Internationally accredited by the American Accreditation Commission International (AACI), and nationally licenced by the Thai Ministry of Health, The Dawn offers tailored treatment plans that cater to each individual’s needs by using a comprehensive, holistic treatment method and modern techniques with proven results.
Mental Health Treatment in Thailand
Our centre is conveniently located just outside the beautiful city of Chiang Mai, Thailand, a one-hour flight from the country’s capital of Bangkok. At our tranquil riverfront property, surrounded by picturesque rice fields and traditional Thai villages, you are completely removed from your triggers – the people, places and things that contribute to your condition – and immersed in a safe and soothing environment.
Call us today to learn more about how we can help you develop your resilience, and go on to live a happier, healthier life.