We hear this word being bandied about a lot recently but what does it really mean? And how do you develop it? It can seem really hard to think how to develop this.
Resilience - noun: the capacity to recover quickly from difficulties; toughness.
So, it’s the ability to bounce back from quickly from difficult circumstances. Whether that is the pressure of exams, needing to work and help at home, or discovering you must move to a new house again. All these situations and many others can be very stressful and mean that when we have several different things going on that are challenging it and become overwhelming.
Resilience is maybe sometimes feeling down, stressed, or anxious but knowing that we will not feel like that forever and not giving up. Knowing that we will feel better again and quickly getting back to being our normal selves.
Why do we need to be resilient?
However, when this goes on for long periods, it starts becoming really damaging and actually means that we produce fewer new brain cells. It also affects the emotional and fear centres of our brain, so that we feel more anxious and worried. This can lead to use feeling overwhelmed and develop conditions such as anxiety and depression in the long term.
Resilience means that our cortisol levels, the stress hormone that can become damaging, subsides back to safe limits quickly.
What can we do to build resilience?
We have to think about all the things that helps us feel better and more positive. The most important element of building resilience is having positive relationships. Whether that is a parent, relative, teacher or social worker that we can really trust to support us when things go wrong.
Having that key relationship means that we don’t feel alone and know that we have someone responsible with whom to talk our worries through and can help us figure out how to deal with difficult situations.
It’s having friends that we trust and can have a laugh but also share our concerns, knowing that we won’t be mocked or manipulated.
Give yourself as many opportunities as you can to meet people. Whether at school, through a youth club or joining a sports or community group. Find ways that you can meet different types of people and increase your chances of meeting and making new friends.
Find ways to improve yourself and your own personal development. This might be getting stuck into your studies at school, but this could also be learning to play a musical instrument, developing your photography skills or learning a new sport. Doing something that makes you feel like you are improving and achieving increases the positive hormones in our bodies and helps reduce cortisol.
When you start to understand how our bodies really work and the way our hormones and other chemicals in our bodies work, building resilience feels less difficult. As you build your resilience through these varied areas, things will feel less challenging and you will feel more able to cope. Life is always full of challenges but how we approach them and feel about them, makes a big difference to whether we feel overwhelmed or whether we feel that although it’s hard, it will be okay in the long run.
Find the things that work for you in each area and if your life means there are lots of stresses, because sometimes that is the way it is, find ways to increase the resilience building activities that you do. It’s all part of how we develop coping strategies and how well we are able to bounce back!
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