Nicole Gordon

Adversity, like change, is an expected part of life. At various points in our lives we will all experience some kind of major challenge or difficulty, which can potentially have major negative effects on our mental health. While some people appear to manage and bounce back from these crises with minimal affect on their mental health, others seem to struggle more, and longer. Why is this?

While there are many possible factors that go into management and recovery from crises, for now let’s focus on just one: Resilience.


What is resilience? Resilience is defined as the ability to handle and bounce back from adversity. There are different types of resilience, but we will focus on mental health resilience.

How does resilience relate to mental health? Resilience is shown to be a protective factor against mental health conditions, such as stress and anxiety.

Why is resilience important? Everyone faces some kind of struggle or adversity in their lifetime. Resilience, among other factors, has a major positive impact on how well individuals work through these trials. It can help with adapting to a new situation or environment, managing stress levels, and recovering after unexpected losses or traumatic events.

Is it something you’re born with? No. Resilience is a learned trait, usually built up over time. For many people it is built in the midst of crisis, but it can also be built through conscious effort outside of difficult times. It functions similarly to any other new life skill.

Who is resilient? Resilience is not a static trait belonging to a specific group. Everyone possesses some degree of resilience, and everyone can build, strengthen, or expand on what they already have!

How can I build resilience? There are multiple ways to build resilience, but for now lets focus on three.

Goal setting – Practice setting realistic, achievable goals and try to consistently do things that will bring you closer to achieving them. Goal setting and achieving helps to strengthen will power and gives practice in creating and executing a plan. Keep in mind, the key word here is realistic. It’s easy to fall into the trap of setting goals that are to much to handle, causing ourselves extra stress trying to achieve them, and feeling upset or let down when we don’t. Instead, try taking larger goals and breaking them down into smaller, more manageable parts, and celebrate victories as you work your way through each part.

Making connections – Positive, supportive relationships have been shown to decrease stress reactions, even just in thinking about the relationship. So, build your support network. Provide support to others and don’t be afraid to accept help when you need it.

Skill Acquisition – Acquiring a new skill strengthens feelings of competency and in turn increases self esteem. In the long run, these feelings of competency and high self esteem allow you to feel more confident in adapting to new situations and working through crises.


Some of the most notable figures in human history, are also the most resilient, but his trait is not limited to a select few. It is a skill that can be strengthened in the midst of adversity, and in times of peace. It can provide protection against certain mental health difficulties, as well as aiding in the management of, and recovery from, others. Anyone can build resilience, and benefit from it, individually or with the assistance of a therapist.

To learn more, and receive guidance for working through periods of adversity, contact Tokyo Mental Health to matched with a therapist.
Sources

How to build resiliency. (2017, May 18). Retrieved July 1, 2019, from https://www.mayoclinic.org/tests-procedures/resilience-training/in-depth/resilience/art-20046311

Suttie, J. (2017, November 13). Four Ways Social Support Makes You More Resilient. Retrieved from https://greatergood.berkeley.edu/article/item/four_ways_social_support_makes_you_more_resilient

The road to resilience. (n.d.). Retrieved June 28, 2019, from https://www.apa.org/helpcenter/road-resilience

Whitley, R., Ph.D. (2018, February 15). Three Simple Ways to Enhance Mental Health Resilience. Retrieved July 2, 2019, from https://www.psychologytoday.com/us/blog/talking-about-men/201802/three-simple-ways-enhance-mental-health-resilience