Resilience is defined as toughness, or “the capacity to recover quickly from difficulties.”
And in researcher language, it’s “positive adaptation despite adversity.”
But is it something we’re born with? Can we develop more of it? And can we use it up as we go through life?
When Resilience Begins
Science indicates that resilience is not uniform across people, places, or situations. So what makes one person resilient may not affect another the same way.
Resilience begins forming in childhood as a result of internal disposition and external experience, researchers say. Children who suffer trauma at a young age may develop resilience in one area but struggle in others. Also, adults have differing levels of it based on their experiences throughout life.
Keys to building this flexibility are:
- Supportive relationships,
- A capacity to adapt to change, and
- Positive and negative experiences over time.
Perseverance, or “the continued effort to do or achieve something despite difficulties, failure, or opposition,” is one aspect of resilience.
How Can I Build It?
Research consistently shows that lifestyle choices can impact this flexibility. Nutrition, exercise, sleep, substance use, relationships and stress management play roles in building stress-hardiness and resilience.
And the American Psychological Association, in its “Road to Resilience” brochure, says these behaviors, thoughts, and actions can be learned and developed in anyone.
Caring, supportive relationships are key. They provide role models, encouragement and reassurance. So a first step to building resilience is to make connections, the APA guide says.
And other ways include:
- Approach crises as something to overcome. We often can’t change what happens to us, but we can change how we respond.
- Accept change as part of life.
- Move toward your goals.
- Look for opportunities for self-discovery.
- Take care of yourself.
For more details on these and other ways, download the full APA guide here.
So how resilient would you say you are? What helped you with that?
As an integrative health coach, offering grace and space for a healthier you, Amy Hoogervorst helps clients take action and build resilience through coaching. If you’d like to discover if coaching is a good fit for you right now, contact Amy to schedule a no-obligation, complimentary 25-minute phone call.