The same kind of tragic or deeply disappointing events happen to thousands of people each day: the death of a loved one, being passed over for a promotion at work, or receiving some health news you’d rather not hear. But each person will react to this kind of emotional setback in different ways. Some may go beyond feeling sad and sink into depression. Others take another tack. They’re determined to move forward, past their feelings. Some may call this having a stiff upper lip. It’s also called being resilient. Here’s how resiliency can impact your overall health.
What being resilient means
This isn’t a word that is used as much as the descriptions often associated with it. Some people might call it being tough, having inner strength, or even being a person who can go with the flow. If an object is resilient, it’s known for being long-lasting and something that can weather any kind of change. It’s really the same for people. Resilient people have an ability to bounce back from setbacks. They face the same level of sad events, disappointments and even tragedies as other people, and they feel the same anger, grief and other emotions. But they are able to adapt and move forward. Resiliency is a mindset that can help people’s health physically and mentally.
Being resilient protects your health
Being resilient is about more than being tough on the inside or feeling determined to move past the bad things in life. When people demonstrate resilience, it can actually safeguard them from depression, anxiety, or other mental health conditions, according to Harvard Medical School. Other health benefits of resilience:
- Greater enjoyment out of life
- Increased sense of control
Not being resilient impacts your health. People who are not resilient and who don’t weather life’s disappointments can sometimes develop conditions related to chronic stress. These include:
Resiliency is learned
Some people may seem like they were born with a resilient gene. If that’s not you, don’t worry. According to the American Psychological Association, being resilient is a learned behavior. Just like working out your arm muscles to have better-defined biceps, you can build your resiliency over time.
Tips for increasing your resiliency
Make more connections. Being resilient is not a solo endeavor. It’s about strengthening connections to family members, friends, co-workers, neighbors and others in the community. Part of knowing you can get through something is knowing you have a support network.
Take care of yourself. Prioritizing your mental and physical health is a big part of resiliency. This means getting regular exercise, getting enough sleep, and tuning out negative TV shows or social media when it gets overwhelming. Find a mental health practice that makes you feel good, whether it’s meditating or keeping a journal.
Think proactively. Resilient people don’t wallow after something upsetting happens. They give themselves space to recover, then they make a plan. They look forward to what needs to be done, make to-do lists, and start tackling them.