The term ‘resilience’ is being used more and more, but often there’s an assumption that people know what it means. Resilience is not the same as resistance. It’s not about a superhuman power to withstand pressure, to not flinch when times get tough. Resilience is about bouncing back when life is hard going. It happens to us all, no matter what you may read in magazines about celebrities and their idyllic existences, or see what people choose to show on social media. Real life has stresses, strains and trials – for everyone.
The key to resilience is to do what you can to minimise the things that bring challenges – the stressors – and optimise the things that bring you resilience – help you to survive and rise back.
There is no ubiquitous set off stressors or resilience factors – everyone is different and it’s important to work it out for yourself. For example, some people find that cooking brings them a sense of wellbeing, for others it is a nuisance that saps their energy.
One way to look at this is to imagine a set of scales with stressors and resilience factors on it. What you need to do is to imagine what the regular stressors are and recognise what the things are that bring you resilience. Often we overlook these, focusing instead on life’s tasks. In fact, spending time engaging in our resilience will help us achieve the things we need to more easily. Think of it as an investment, not an indulgence. If you were to run a race, you would put training in to help make your performance better and more productive. Engaging in resilience activities is the same as this. Overlooking them will make your life more challenging. This can be a very hard concept to accept. Strike a balance between the demands in life, the stresses they bring, and your acts of resilience. It’s a shift in thinking for many, but it makes sense.
Here’s an example of the things you can do to enhance wellbeing and resilience, and the things that might cause you stress. The key is to get the balance right, and this means you may need to change how you spend your time. Remember, these are only examples – they will be different for everyone.
You will see that not all resilience factors are solutions to the stressors. Instead, they are things that are part of self-care and resilience that will enable you to withstand and address the challenges that you face. You do not deserve to feel out of control. You do not have to suffer this way. Spend time thinking about your resilience factors, and importantly make them achievable. Less stress will make you happier and healthier – and help those around you to. It’s an investment that is well worthwhile.