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Reviewed by Kristin Hall, FNP
Written by Our Editorial Team
Do you know what resilience means? The Merriam-Webster Dictionary defines it as an “ability to recover from or adjust easily to misfortune or change.” Having strong resilience and mental health can help you navigate life in a more healthy way.
Wondering about the connection between resilience and mental health? Let us explain!
To understand how resilience and mental health are closely linked, you need to have a good grasp on what resilience means. As mentioned above, resilience is the ability to recover or easily adjust to change or difficult situations.
To take this definition a step further, the American Psychological Association says resilience is marked by the ability to have mental, emotional and behavioral flexibility when it comes to internal and external demands.
So, when might you need to be particularly resilient? Resilience can be helpful in various difficult life situations. Some examples:
Medical emergencies or severe illness
Losing a job
Surviving or witnessing tragedy — whether it’s a terrorist attack, a car accident or something else
Getting through unprecedented times, like the COVID-19 pandemic
Being resilient doesn’t mean going through tough times is easy. Resilient people still feel distress — they’re just able to bounce back from it.
There are a few things that influence how we react to difficulties in daily life. This includes how you view the world, your social support system and coping strategies you may have already developed.
Interestingly, having a sense of resilience depends on a few factors, including genetics, mental health, physical health and your environment.
Having resilient mental health is vital. It makes you more able to cope with tough situations and work through negative emotions. Having resilience can help you get back to feeling positive emotions after times of mental health crisis and enjoying life again.
The relationship between resilience and mental health is simple: When you’re higher on the resilience scale, it benefits your mental health outcomes. Not having psychological resilience can lead to struggling and may even spark mental illness.
People facing severe adversity who don’t have self-reported resilience are vulnerable to various mental disorders, including post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) and major depressive disorder (MDD).
Dealing with a mental illness on top of difficult situations can greatly affect you, which makes personal resilience even more crucial.
Not familiar with these mental illnesses? Here is a brief overview of them:
PTSD. This anxiety disorder often impacts people who’ve gone through a traumatic event, like being assaulted, living through a natural disaster, serving in the military or surviving other difficult life situations.
MDD. Also called major depression, this form of clinical depression can affect both your emotional and physical health. Symptoms of depression include a persistent sad mood, appetite changes, weight fluctuations and decreased energy.
Since a lack of psychological resilience can lead to mental illness and low overall life satisfaction, it’s important to find ways to be more resilient.
Now that you’re familiar with the relationship between resilience and mental health, you now need to know how to be as resilient as possible whenever you need to be.
If you can do this, you’ll be able to move through times of crisis more easily, get back to feeling positive emotions and ultimately, improve your quality of life.
Building levels of resilience can also ensure difficult life situations don’t lead to mental disorders. Thankfully, it is possible to build psychological resilience. Here’s how.
When you feel all alone, it can be harder to deal with feelings of anxiety that tough life situations bring about, and you may find yourself lacking in levels of resilience. This could be one of the reasons why so many people struggled to be resilient during the COVID-19 global crisis.
Having reciprocal relationships with people who love and believe in you can help you feel less alone. You can lean on these people during difficult times, and they can remind you of all your personal strengths. This support can help you build resilience.
When your wellness is in tip-top shape, you’ll have more energy for resilience. Doing things like sleeping and eating well, taking care of your mental health and exercising can all help.
Exercise has been found to benefit many aspects of your mental health. A 2013 review of studies done on animals found that working out lowered anxiety and stress and increased mood stability. But it’s worth remembering that this study was done on animals.
While exercise takes care of your physical body, meditation can help your mind stay strong. A 2014 study found that 20 minutes of mindful meditation could lower levels of anxiety. It’s hard to be resilient if your mind is riddled with anxiety. So quieting your mind frees up space for resilience.
If you’re really struggling with increasing your levels of resilience or feel like your levels of anxiety are having a negative impact on your daily routine, you may want to seek out help from a mental health professional.
A therapist can help you explore the relationship between resilience and your mental health and help you improve your quality of life. Engaging in talk therapy can address clinical depression, give you tools to navigate difficult life situations and teach you how to be more resilient.
If you’re going through a hard time, a trained professional can help you come up with a strategy to move forward. They can also make sure you know you aren’t alone and provide other resources that’ll help you bounce back and be more resilient.
Hers offers online consultations with healthcare professionals that make it easy to talk to someone about both resilience and mental health. Get started today.
Kristin Hall is a board-certified Family Nurse Practitioner with decades of experience in clinical practice and leadership.
She has an extensive background in Family Medicine as both a front-line healthcare provider and clinical leader through her work as a primary care provider, retail health clinician and as Principal Investigator with the NIH.
Certified through the American Nurses Credentialing Center, she brings her expertise in Family Medicine into your home by helping people improve their health and actively participate in their own healthcare.
Kristin is a St. Louis native and earned her master’s degree in Nursing from St. Louis University, and is also a member of the American Academy of Nurse Practitioners. You can find Kristin on LinkedIn for more information.
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