Life doesn’t come with any guidebooks, maps or directions. No matter how diligently you plan, you’ll eventually encounter a situation you never anticipated, like a severe illness or the loss of a loved one. A quality called psychological resilience makes it possible to adapt in the face of these setbacks.
What Is Psychological Resilience?
Psychological resilience is a concept that refers to your ability to recover from life’s emotional and mental challenges, including trauma, loss and other significant sources of stress. While one measure of resilience is how you respond to adversity, another is what you take away from these experiences that can lead to growth and positive change.
While some people are innately more optimistic and upbeat than others, psychological resilience is not a rare trait. Anyone can intentionally work to become a more resilient person over time. People teaching themselves new skills at home during COVID-19 community shutdowns is one real-world example we’ve all seen play out within the past two years.
You can rely on the following tactics to hone your capacity to weather trauma and other adverse experiences.
1. Build Connections
In response to emotional distress, some people tend to self-isolate and try to work through their feelings on their own – or worse, turn to maladaptive coping mechanisms to ignore their problems altogether. Instead of pushing others away, try seeking support in the form of group therapy or weekly get-togethers with empathetic friends. You will probably feel better after talking about your experience with people who are willing to listen without judgment. You might even meet others who have been in your shoes and learn how they have overcome their difficulties.
2. Make Time for Self-Care
Most people are familiar with the concept of self-care, but might not take opportunities to practice it. However, anything that contributes to your overall well-being is worth doing in support of your psychological resilience. When you lead a positive lifestyle with good sleep hygiene habits, eat a nutritionally balanced diet, stay physically active and do mindfulness activities, you can avoid the cumulative adverse effects of chronic stress on your mental and physical health.
3. Set Realistic Goals
Another way to build psychological resilience is to give yourself a sense of purpose, so you can always have something to work toward. By being proactive and pragmatic about problems you encounter, you might break larger challenges down into the specific steps you will take to solve them. Instead of giving up when an issue seems insurmountable, try to identify one thing you could do that might help you move in a positive direction. For example, if you have recently lost your job, one concrete, achievable goal might be to update your LinkedIn profile or post your resume on a job board like Indeed.
4. Stay Grounded
Sometimes, you might fall into irrational thought patterns that lead you to assume people are judging you harshly, or that nothing positive will happen to you. Evidence-based approaches like cognitive behavioral therapy can help you recognize and respond to negativity and begin replacing it with optimism. You can also try a form of meditation called creative visualization, in which you picture yourself succeeding at an activity or achieving a specific milestone.
Change Is a Necessary Part of Life
Some hardships are inevitable, but your psychological resilience can be the difference between whether you dread the distress they might bring or welcome what they have to teach you. At Vista Taos, we understand the decision to end your relationship with alcohol or drugs is one of the most difficult choices you will ever make, but our holistic programming is here to help you heal and start your journey with grace and acceptance. To learn more about recovering in Taos, New Mexico, contact us today.