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The Connection Between Resilience & Mental Health

Kristin Hall

Medically reviewed by Kristin Hall, FNP

Written by Our Editorial Team

Last updated 1/8/2023

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!

What Is Resilience? 

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: 

  • The loss of a loved one

  • A bad breakup

  • Natural disasters

  • Medical emergencies or severe illness

  • Losing a job

  • Financial strain

  • 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. 

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The Connection Between Mental Health and Resilience

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 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.

Boosting Your Mental Health Resilience 

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. 

Grow Your Social Support System

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.

Take Care of Yourself

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.

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Seek Professional Help

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.

9 Sources

Hims & Hers has strict sourcing guidelines to ensure our content is accurate and current. We rely on peer-reviewed studies, academic research institutions, and medical associations. We strive to use primary sources and refrain from using tertiary references.

  1. Resilience. Merriam-Webster Dictionary. Retrieved from https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/resilience
  2. Resilience. American Psychological Association. Retrieved from https://www.apa.org/topics/resilience
  3. Building Your Resilience, (2020). American Psychological Association. Retrieved from https://www.apa.org/topics/resilience/building-your-resilience
  4. Osorio, C., Probert, T., Jones, E., et al., (2016). Adapting to Stress: Understanding the Neurobiology of Resilience. Behavioral Medicine. Retrieved from https://www.tandfonline.com/doi/abs/10.1080/08964289.2016.1170661?journalCode=vbmd20
  5. What are the five types of anxiety disorders? U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. Retrieved from https://www.hhs.gov/answers/mental-health-and-substance-abuse/what-are-the-five-major-types-of-anxiety-disorders/index.html
  6. Major Depression. Johns Hopkins Medicine. Retrieved from https://www.hopkinsmedicine.org/health/conditions-and-diseases/major-depression
  7. Building Your Resilience, (2020). American Psychological Association. Retrieved from https://www.apa.org/topics/resilience/building-your-resilience
  8. Anderson, E., Shivakumar, G. (2013). Effects of Exercise and Physical Activity on Anxiety. Frontiers in Psychiatry. Retrieved from https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3632802/
  9. Zeidan, F., Martucci, K., Kraft, R., et al. (2013, May 21). Neural correlates of mindfulness meditation-related anxiety relief. Social Cognitive and Affective Neuroscience, 751-759. Retrieved from https://academic.oup.com/scan/article/9/6/751/1664700

This article is for informational purposes only and does not constitute medical advice. The information contained herein is not a substitute for and should never be relied upon for professional medical advice. Always talk to your doctor about the risks and benefits of any treatment. Learn more about our editorial standards here.

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