Resilience is the process of adapting well in the face of adversity, tragedy, trauma, and significant sources of stress (family, relationships, health, work, and finances). It means having the ability to recover quickly from difficulties. There is no question that resilience has been a popular subject over the past year. A search for scientific articles on the topic will return more than 1200 citations in 2020 alone.
Resilience Affects Health
If you are wondering whether or not being resilient affects health, psychologists and scientists agree that it does. In a recent study, the evidence suggests that the “epigenome should be considered a valuable asset in understanding how our experiences, positive or negative, get under our skin and shape underlying biology and behavior.” Epigenetics is the process by which our genes are activated or deactivated based on different environmental circumstances. There is also evidence that those who meditate or practice mindfulness (compared with controls) display positive alterations in genes that are associated with certain diseases and may slow the aging process.
The past few years have been challenging for many people. From the COVID-19 pandemic with its travel restrictions and school and business closures to work-from-home difficulties to politics and social issues leading to uncertainty. Why do some people adapt and thrive while others feel lost and hopeless? The difference is resilience. So, how do you become more resilient and better able to bounce back from adversity? After all, resilience can involve profound personal growth, which is a good thing. Psychologists say that increasing resilience takes time and intention.
Common Traits of Resilient People
According to the American Psychological Association, here are some common traits of resilient people:
Connecting with others who are empathetic and who help remind you that you are not alone helps build resilience and is important. Whether it’s one-on-one connection or group support, prioritizing your relationships and having strong bonds with family, friends, or mentors during difficult times can offer hope. Surround yourself with supportive people, and be sure to ask for help when you need it.
During difficult times, it is even more important to practice self-care. Lifestyle factors such as good nutrition, restful sleep, hydration, and regular exercise work together to help you better adapt and emerge stronger. Mindful practices such as meditation, prayer, journaling, and fostering gratitude all support resilience.
Resilient people embrace positive thoughts and accept change, focusing on things within their control. Scientists have also observed that how you perceive situations and events can have a significant impact on your capacity to deal with adversity. Visualize what you want rather than what you fear.
Look for opportunities for self-discovery, skill-building, and moving toward your goals. For example, if you lost your job, take a close look at your strengths and spend some time each day on your resumé rather than dwelling on the loss. Ask yourself, “What can I do today to move closer to my goals?” When you find meaning in difficult situations, it can offer hope and help you grow.
Keep in mind that becoming more resilient not only helps you through tough times but can empower you to improve your life and make future adversity easier to navigate. Accept the things you can’t change and put more focus on those things and perceptions you can change. Challenging times happen throughout life, but how we respond to them may play the biggest role in our long-term health and wellness.