Resilience Affects Response To Trauma
My Interest in Resilience
I have a particular interest in resilience because of my own experience of growing up in a communist society where people were exposed to trauma. When I came to this country and interacted with patients, I noticed that there were many who were sometimes exposed to the same degree of trauma as we experienced but ended up having different degrees of suffering. As I read about the concept of resilience, and reviewed the relevant research on the subject of resilience- I discovered that a person’s degree of resilience affects their level of mental health. This is consistent with many researchers and authors findings. Related research over the years, has revealed that spirituality and/or religion have been recognized as sources of resilience.
What is Resilience?
Rabbi Harold Kushner said in his book “When Bad Things Happen to Good People” knowing how to pray for strength to go through difficult situations is basically praying for resilience, not for a change in outcome. Resilience means, simply said, “to make the best out of not such a good situation.” In the context of Positive Psychiatry, George Vaillant quoting Werner and Smith (1982), said that “resilience is the capacity to ‘bend without breaking’ and ‘once bent, to spring back’.” In that sense, he continues, resilience has a similar meaning to the term ‘homeostasis’.
What Resilience Really Means
In essence, resilience is the ability to bounce back when something difficult happens or doesn’t go as planned in our lives. It is the ability to once again pick ourselves up after a trauma or painful experience. Our levels of resiliency will change and develop throughout our live, and at points we will find that we do not cope as well as others, as well as surprising ourselves when we manage a difficult situation. In another sense, resilience is just one of many psychological tools we implement to get us back to feeling normal again.
Why is Resilience Important For Our Emotional Health?
Important Benefits Of Being Resilient Include:
- Less likely to get depressed or develop mental health difficulties or issues
- More likely to protect ourselves emotionally and less likely to get overwhelmed during stress
- Live longer and happier lives
- Have better relationships
- Reduced risk taking behaviors, such as drugs, alcohol, or smoking
- Increased involvement in community or family activities
- Improved learning and academic achievement
- More successful at work or school
- Lower rates of illness and absences from work or study
Ways to Build Resilience
The ultimate goal in building your resilience is to get stronger both physically and emotionally, so that it is easier for you to overcome whatever challenges you might face.
Here are some ways you can begin to build your resilience:
- Exercise regularly, do yoga, bike, run, swim, walk, etc
- Set specific and achievable personal goals
- Get enough sleep
- Make time for incorporating spirituality and religion in your life
- Go easy on, and forgive yourself and others
- Practice relaxation and meditation, e.g. listen to music, take a bath, get a massage, etc.
- Eat healthy foods
- Be honest and straightforward with others
- Live your values
- Find ways to build your self-confidence, praise and reward yourself
- Focus on thinking positively
- Try to reflect on, and learn from the mistakes you make
- Make time to build relationships
- Cultivate support networks of friends, family and colleagues
- Pursue interests and hobbies, and make time for them
Want Support In Building Your Resilience? We Can Help!
Obviously, doing these things is easier with a little help. If you are interested in building your resilience by pursuing counseling with us, feel free to schedule an appointment for a consultation, or call Psychiatrist Daniela White, M.D. at 713-426-3100.
Kushner, Harold S. (2004). When Bad Things Happen to Good People. Knopf Publishing Group.
Vaillant G.E., (2008), Positive Emotions, Spirituality and the Practice of Psychiatry. In: Medicine, Mental Health, Science, Religion, and Well-being (A.R. Singh and S.A. Singh eds.), MSM, 6, Jan – Dec 2008, p48–62.
Werner, E. E., & Smith, R. S. (1982). Vulnerable, but invincible: A longitudinal study of resilient children and youth New York: McGraw-Hill.