Emotional Resilience Is Key to Our Mental Wellbeing, But How Do We Build It?

If you’ve ever felt you struggle more in life than others, you might have a lack of emotional resilience. Resilience is your natural ability to bounce back from the ‘downs’, adversity or stress that are an inevitable part of life, says Luke Foster, a psychologist at LIVIN.

“It’s as natural as the stress response, yet while many of us would be very familiar with the ‘fight-or-flight’ response where we instinctively prepare to either fight off or run away from a potential, most of us have not learned what happens once the threat has passed, or in other words the process of stress reduction or being resilient,” Foster says.

Resilience is crucial to our wellbeing as we all experience life challenges and difficult emotions, he says. Those who work hard on cultivating resilience can recover from setbacks and return to a healthier, happier and more fulfilling life more quickly. Whereas, those who are less resilient find it difficult to manage life’s inevitable setbacks. As a result, they may lose confidence, struggle for personal growth and suffer across many areas of their lives.

Ahead, in line with Mental Health Month, which has seen LIVIN partner with Snap Fitness to launch its Move Your Mood for Good Campaign, Foster shares five ways we can work on building our resilience.

Slow Down

If you can bring greater relaxation and ease into your body, your mind will typically follow. One of the simplest and most effective strategies to bring a sense of calm to your body, and subsequently, your mind, is by doing deep breathing — one of the fastest ways you can calm down your nervous system and snap out of the fight-or-flight response if it’s not serving you well.

Other things like going for a walk, getting out into nature, swimming, hitting the gym, cuddling your puppy or partner can decrease anxiety and preserve a positive mood. Whatever it is that works for you — and it’s important to work out what it is that serves you best — needs to be prioritised daily to cultivate greater resilience. Daily practice or, in other words, repetition, is important for solid gains.

Get Active

Action can lower anxiety and stress and lift your mood. Exercise is so good, not only for your physical health but your mental health. Even if you are not a huge fan of exercise, a short burst of cardiovascular activity — even just 15 minutes — can help relieve stress and frustration and help you to look and feel better about yourself.

Take Time to Reflect

Recall times when you felt strong, determined, on top of your game, or times when you’ve managed to get through a challenging period in your life. Reflect on the things you might have been doing to get to this point in your life and if you’re no longer practising these things, start to reintroduce them into your daily self-care plan — these are tried and tested for you.

Grow Your Self-Awareness

A big part of cultivating resilience is developing greater self-awareness; an understanding of how you are travelling at any given moment and knowing what you might need to do (or not do) to maintain or alter your level of functioning.

Seek Out Social Support

Social relationships are important for general wellbeing. Social support, human connection is arguably the best predictor of resilience. Sure, it is okay to take time out for yourself — sitting quietly and reading a book, couch time and a Netflix binge — but friends can provide support when you’re having a tough time. Close relationships can add meaning and purpose to your life.

If you’re not feeling up to going out, even a phone call, email, text message or Facebook message can help us feel connected to friends and family. Try it, the next time you’re not feeling so flash, send a family member or friend a nice text message, pay someone a compliment and observe how it makes you feel — no doubt a little bit better about yourself.

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