Psychological Resilience

Resilience in psychology is the positive capacity of people to cope with stress and catastrophe. It also includes the ability to bounce back to homeostasis after a disruption. Thirdly,it can be used to indicate having an adaptive system that uses exposure to stress to provide resistance to future negative events. In this sense "resilience" corresponds to cumulative "protective factors" and is used in opposition to cumulative "risk factors". The phrase "risk and resilience"' in this area of study is quite common. Commonly used terms, which are closely related within psychology, are "resilience", "psychological resilience", "emotional resilience", "hardiness", "resourcefulness", and "mental toughness". This focus on individual capacity had evolved for a multilevel perspective. The focus in research also shifted from "protective factors" toward protective "processes"; trying to understand how different factors are involved.


What helps you to become resilient?

Where is it that you get your ‘power’?

  • A caring and supportive family
  • Caring friends who you can trust
  • Being encouraged to try
  • Setting yourself realistic goals and reaching them
  • Being confident in your own abilities
  • Being able to communicate with others
  • Successfully using your problem-solving skills
  • Managing strong feelings like anger.


How to build up your own resilience

If you have all these ‘power builders’, that’s great! But what if you don’t? You can still build up your own resilience and create the kind of caring support that everyone needs by:

  • Getting connected. Make friends, get to know people, join in with teams, clubs and organisations. Talk to and help people and allow them to help you.
  • Don’t give up. Everyone has to deal with a crisis from time to time. Just go into ‘automatic mode’ and work your way through it. Things will get better. It isn’t easy, but you do get through eventually.
  • Change is here to stay – accept it! Of course, it’s unsettling when you feel comfortable with something, then it all changes. Try to see change as a chance to alter the future, not the end of the world as you know it!
  • Get good at making realistic goals.
    • Make long-term goals, then work out the steps you have to take to achieve them.
    • Set these as your short-term goals, and work your way through all the short-term goals that will get you where you want to be.
    • Remember that being realistic doesn’t mean accepting second best. As you reach each goal, you can aim higher.
  • Face up to problems. Think about how you can solve them instead of wishing that they would go away.
  • Learn from the bad times. Often people find that they have developed better skills, made new friends and got to know themselves better after they have gone through some crisis.
  • Trust yourself. Develop your skills [eg. communication, problem solving, conflict resolving] and instincts, and then develop confidence in your ability to use them.
  • Don’t turn every small set-back into a ‘10 act drama!’ Unless of course you are practising to be a stand-up comedian!
  • Practise thinking positive thoughts. Always be hopeful of your ability to get through, and that things will improve.
  • Look after yourself. Exercise and eat well for a healthy body, and learn to relax.
  • Get to know yourself. Some people do this by meditation or writing down their thoughts. It’s helpful to know what your opinions are, and also to reflect on how you handle life, what works for you and what doesn’t.


Learn, adapt and move on

We need resilience to cope with the challenges life throws at us. Looking at how you have managed and survived past events can help you become more resilient at managing future events.

Ask yourself:

  • What were the bad times?
  • How was I affected?
  • Who helped me?
  • Who did I help?
  • Did I overcome obstacles and how did I do it?
  • What did I learn that would help in future?
  • What did I learn about myself?

Every time you face a crisis, deal with a disappointment, lose someone or something you love, you use your resilience to help you recover and move on with your life.