When you’re stressed, you’ll likely do whatever it takes to feel more relaxed in the moment. But wouldn't it be nice if you had a way to help yourself before encountering stressful situations?
This is where resilience comes in. When you build resilience, you can manage your stress before it overwhelms your mind and body. Resilience is a way of taking care of your mental health and preventing stressors from controlling your life.
Learning how resilience can help you with stress may sound straightforward, but the road to resilience isn't. It takes sustained effort, as resilience isn't something you’re born with or can buy. Rather, it’s developed through training and patience. Building your resilience is a long-term investment in yourself and your mental and physical health.
What is resilience?
Let’s start with why resilience is important and what it really is. Resilience is your ability to adjust to change and adapt to difficult situations. That includes things like moving to a new city, losing a loved one or family member, or stressful world events. Regardless of what brings us stress, resilience is a way to overcome the fear and anxiety that accompanies a stressful situation.
Having a resilient mindset means facing problems head-on, with confidence that you’ll make it through.
How can resilience help with mental health?
Anyone can experience mental health challenges. In fact, studies have found that one in four American adults experiences a diagnosable mental health condition in any given year.
Resilience helps before, during, and after events that harm your mental health.
Resilience can train you to problem-solve before or under the pressure of a crisis. Through developing resilience, you’ll know what strategies to use to cope with life's challenges.
That could mean leaning on your support network or practicing some self-care to manage stress. And coming through a crisis grows your resilience. That’s because it allows you to see you have the self-efficacy to overcome future obstacles.
Bottom line: resilience is all about bouncing back from challenges.
Can resilience be developed?
Right now, you might not feel like a resilient person, but that's okay. Resilience can be learned and developed at any age. Plus, you can do it in a few different ways. Here are some examples:
- Develop a positive attitude. Rather than dwelling on negative thoughts, swap them out for more positive, optimistic ideas. Do this by practicing positive self-talk. This will remind you that you can handle stressful events or challenges because you believe in your abilities.
- Strengthen your self-awareness. To know how you best cope with challenges, you need to be self-aware. It's key to understanding how and why you feel a certain way. It indicates when you’re experiencing burnout. Strengthen your self-awareness by going on a journey of self-discovery and taking the time to get to know your Whole Self.
- Try new things. New experiences are a great way to build resilience. Try new hobbies, do more physical activity, or experiment with new stress management techniques.
How can you use resilience to cope with stress?
Whether you like it or not, stress is part of life and part of competing. Everyone experiences it. There's no one way for you to completely banish every source of stress from your life, but what you can do is use your resilience to cope with different types of stress when it makes an appearance. Life happens, and resilience prepares you for that.
The benefits of flexing your resilience while you're stressed are immense. Resilience can completely change your mindset toward coping with that fight or flight feeling. Plus, it can give you the motivation to overcome stressors, or even help you sleep when you’re stressed.
Let's review four (4) ways to use your resilience while coping with stress, along with some tips:
1. Explore new wellness practices. Resilience keeps you on your toes when it comes to learning new things because it helps you adapt to change. So, why not put those efforts toward finding new ways to relax and calm yourself?
Perhaps this month you'll try meditating. Later on, maybe you'll practice some mindfulness-based stress reduction, which has been proven to help treat anxiety and stress.
2. Build a social support network. However you feel comfortable doing it, put yourself out there. Be confident in yourself as you find people who can support you in life, especially while you're stressed.
Try networking, joining clubs, or talking to new people at school. Your social network can help you feel less alone, and you can always learn new coping skills from others. Your social health is an integral part of well-being.
3. Work to discover your stressors. To aid with your stress management, determine what causes your stress. Focus your efforts and resources on your stress triggers. You can do this by journaling when you feel stressed. This will allow you to reflect on and be mindful of how your body feels when you're engaging with new things in the world.
4. Don't give up on yourself. Even if you're having a hard time at the moment, you’re showing resilience by persevering. Continue to find new ways to help yourself. You can do this by being optimistic, changing your attitude to be more positive, and reframing the situation to be a learning opportunity.
5 tips for using resilience to handle work-related stress
If we're going to talk about how resilience helps us, it's important to discuss how it can help at work. Studies have found that about 70% of Americans say that a major cause of stress for them is their workplace. Since stress so commonly stems from work, it's a great place to practice being resilient.
There's a reason why resilience is a top skill to have on any team: it helps team members overcome obstacles and remain productive. If you’re ready to adapt and keep trying, you can face any challenge. It helps with career development since it opens people up to learning new skills and helps the overall organization grow.
Here are five tips on how resilience can help you with work-related stress:
- Be compassionate with yourself
- Stay optimistic about the work you do and is value
- Strengthen your communication skills, even if you play an individual sport
- Be proactive if you see potential roadblocks
- Leave it on the field, once the game is over find a trigger to help you move forward
What about chronic stress?
Sometimes we experience stress on a short-term basis, which is called acute stress. This might be a traffic jam or a long line at the grocery stores. But other times, stress levels remain elevated, and those lingering effects of stress can really take a toll. This is known as chronic stress, and it can have serious consequences.
Chronic stress impacts every system in your body and can cause serious health problems. Here’s what happens: cortisol levels increase in response to stress. This can lead to an elevated heart rate or high blood pressure.
Prolonged stress can cause heart disease, harm your immune system, and more. Repeated acute stressors — like a daily traffic jam — can also harm a person’s health.
Even if you’ve been tracking your stress and feel like you’re managing it, it's never a bad idea to reach out for help. Keep in mind that sometimes you can’t control the chronic stress resulting from mental health conditions or traumatic events. In those cases, it might be harder to build resilience.
If your stress is debilitating, it might be time to seek help from a mental health professional or doctor.
Sometimes the road to resilience is one that we can't travel alone, and that's OK. Accepting help with stress management means finding a solution in difficult times, and you're dedicated to helping your overall health and wellness. Be proud of yourself for that.
Remember: be kind to yourself
Problem-solving can be stressful, and facing life's challenges with a positive attitude can be frustrating. And it’s easy to be upset with yourself if you don't think you’re progressing as you wish to be. But even when you want to throw in the towel, remember to be kind. We know how resilience can help with mental health, especially as you manage stress.