Developing mental resilience

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Health Assured team

11 July 2019

The American Psychological Association defines mental resilience as: “The process of adapting well in the face of adversity, trauma, tragedy, threats or even significant sources of stress.”


What is mental resilience?

Throughout our lives, we will likely encounter numerous situations which will cause symptoms of stress, anxiety and in some cases, depression. The capacity to stay mentally well during these times is what’s known as ‘resilience’.


When you are mentally resilient, you have the ability to not only “bounce back” from setbacks, such as suffering a bereavement, serious illness or being made redundant, but have the ability to adapt in the face of challenging circumstances, while maintaining stable mental wellbeing.


If you lack mental resilience, you may dwell on problems, become easily overwhelmed or rely on unhealthy coping mechanisms such as alcohol or excessive eating.


Although mental resilience won’t make your problems disappear - it can give you the ability to find more enjoyment in life and handle stress in a healthier way.


Resilience and mental health

Being mentally resilient can help you offset factors that increase the risk of mental health conditions, such as being bullied or remembering a traumatic experience.


As well as a proactive measure, resilience can also improve your ability to cope with pre-existing mental health conditions, such as depression and anxiety.


How to develop your resilience

Embrace change: An essential tool in developing your resilience, being flexible will help you become better equipped to respond when faced with a life crisis.


Social network: Sharing your problems with someone in your support network won’t fix anything immediately. However, it allows you to share your feelings, get support, receive positive feedback and discover possible solutions to your problems.


Look after yourself: Eating a healthy diet, engaging in regular physical activity, ensuring you have plenty of sleep - all of these things will help you develop a resilient mindset. If you want to try something new, yoga, meditation and deep breathing are all associated with developing mental resilience.


Think short term: Resilient people have the ability to reassure themselves that stressful situations do not last forever and that the associated negative feelings will eventually dissipate. The ability to establish goals will also help you view these situations in a realistic way and then set reasonable goals to deal with the problem.


Ask for help: Many people believe that being resilient is to be mentally strong enough to take on challenges alone. But in fact, the ability to know when to reach out to others for support is a key component of being resilient.


How do I know if I am resilient?

Becoming mentally resilient is a journey that develops over a lifetime. It takes a lot of time and practise, and requires your discipline, patience and commitment. It’s a mindset that continues to develop and grow at different rates, depending on the number of life events you experience.


However, the results can be immeasurable, such as greater autonomy, self-esteem and confidence. This can then go onto affect many aspects of your life, such as increased job satisfaction and developing stronger, more meaningful relationships.



If you would like more information on mental resilience, or if you have any other wellbeing concerns, please call our free, 24-hour helpline on:

0800 030 5182

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