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What is resilience?

Everyone has their ups and downs. When things go wrong, some people aren't as affected as others. That is, they bounce back a lot quicker than others. Resilience is the term for the process of adapting well in the face of stress, adversity, tragedy, threats, etc.

  • Resilience = "bouncing back" from difficult experiences
  • It is a learned skill. It involves behaviours, thoughts and actions that are developed over time.

How can you increase your resilience?

Do you socialise enough?

Social involvement is important in our lives. It is especially important when we are under stress – we have better recovery from stress and illness when we have some form of social involvement. The social involvement could be with friends, family, community, or a spiritual relationship.

How in control do you feel?

You can’t change that highly stressful situations will sometimes happen. But you can change how you interpret and respond to the situations. Here are some tips:

  • Act on the situation, rather than detach yourself
  • Self Reflect
  • Don't ruminate

Self reflection vs. rumination. Thinking about negative events can help you learn and have personal growth. However, repeated thinking (rumination) that entails negative emotions (frustration, regret), make it more difficult to bounce back. If you find yourself ruminating, distract yourself to break the thought process (e.g., play soccer with friends, retail therapy, or take some time to research and plan your next holiday).

Taking control does help people bounce back. For example, providing people with the small task of looking after a plant has been shown to improve their wellbeing. You can use goal setting to develop small tasks to reach a bigger goal.

Do you perceive negative events appropriately?

Generally, being optimistic is good when dealing with stressful events. However, it is also good to be realistic and understand that negative emotions serve a purpose, and should be experienced in your life. However, one needs to find ways to deal with that negative emotion and bring back positive emotional experiences into their life.

Your perception of negative events can influence your level of resilience. There are 3 different ways that a negative event can be perceived:

  • Time: How long will the impact of the negative event last?
  • Cause: Was it my fault or not?
  • Spread: How much does this affect the rest of my life?


A talk on the factors that improve resilience

Another talk on the factors that improve resilience

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