Resilience: Dealing with Life’s Challenges


What Is Resilience?

Resilience is the ability to withstand adversity and bounce back. Resilience requires some strength, time, and help from people around you, and it is only normal for you not to find it easy building resilience. It is essential to note that resilience isn’t the absence of stress, emotional upheaval, and suffering. It is only the ability to manage adversity. There are various forms of adversity — for some, it comes as abuse, an illness, loss of a loved one, job loss, bullying, financial instability, mass shootings, terrorist attacks, and natural disasters. Developing resilience can be complex and personal. It entails a combination of inner strengths and outer resources and doesn’t have a universal formula. While some people might develop symptoms of depression or anxiety after a traumatic event, others may not experience any symptoms at all.

People who lack resilience are more vulnerable to being overwhelmed and may rely on unhealthy coping strategies such as isolation, avoidance, and self-medication. Studies have shown that patients with low resilience may also be at risk of attempting suicide. Resilient people experience stress, setbacks, and difficult emotions, however, they tap into their strengths to seek help from support systems that can enable them to overcome challenges and work through problems.

3 Types of Resilience

Physical Resilience

Physical resilience is the body’s ability to maintain stamina, adapt to challenges, and recover quickly from pain, whether as a result of illness, accidents, or other issues.

Psychological Resilience

Psychological resilience is mental fortitude — it is the ability to mentally withstand and adapt to challenges, uncertainty, and adversity. People who are psychologically resilient develop coping strategies and capabilities that help them to remain calm and focused, no matter what they experience.

Community Resilience

friendsCommunity resilience is the ability of groups of people to recover from challenging situations such as violence, natural disasters, economic hardship, and other challenges that their community experiences.

5 Ways to Build Resilience

Learning to be resilient entails developing the necessary skills to avoid obstacles and resist change. It is a process by which people tap into their strengths to work through obstacles. Building resilience is a process which entails these phases:

Develop Self-Awareness

Developing self-awareness is the first step in building resilience. Self-awareness entails understanding your strengths and weaknesses. It helps you know your vulnerabilities and challenges, and how to manage them.

Build Self-Regulation Skills

It`s not easy to remain focused while facing stress and adversity, however, it is essential and learnable. To build self-regulation, you might need to learn techniques such as breathing exercises, guided imagery, and mindfulness. These will help you regulate your thoughts, emotions, and behavior.

Learn Coping Skills

There are a number of coping skills that can help people deal with stressful and challenging experiences. Some of these skills are reframing thoughts, exercising, journaling, engaging in recreational activities, socializing, and improving sleep patterns.

Increase Optimism

Optimistic people tend to feel more in control of their thoughts and actions. Building optimism entails focusing on steps to take when you’re in challenging situations. It goes further to help you identify problem-solving skills that will be useful in managing the situation you’re in.

Strengthen Connections

There are support systems that can help you build resilience. Strengthen your existing social connections, find opportunities to build new ones, and leverage on them to build resilience.

Resilience and Health Conditions

Rheumatoid Arthritis

There are emotional and behavioral strategies that can help people suffering rheumatoid arthritis and some other chronic diseases cultivate resilience. Optimism and social support can also improve the quality of their lives.

Immunological Disorders

Physical resilience lessens the adverse effect that stressors have on the immune system. People with low resilience suffer more deterioration from diseases.

Mental Health

Resilience can help you deal with psychological distress that may result in trauma. People who have psychological resilience usually have the mental fortitude to handle challenges and adversity. This way, they are less vulnerable to depression and anxiety disorders.

Brain Injuries

Patients with traumatic brain injuries as well as moderate-high resilience survive better than those with more reduced resilience.

Digestive Conditions

People suffering from anxiety and depression are more vulnerable to gastrointestinal distress. Building resilience lessens stress and anxiety as well as prevents gastrointestinal issues and irritable bowel syndrome.


There are links between endometriosis and anxiety, alongside depressive mood. Resilience is an essential factor in reducing the effects of endometriosis.

Skin Conditions

A number of dermatologic disorders are associated with anxiety and stress. Stress may particularly trigger psoriasis and eczema. Studies suggest that patients with conditions like psoriasis show signs of less resilience. The earlier such patients build resilience, the better, as it improves symptoms and manages the conditions.

Resilience in Children

mother and childChildren confront various challenges as they grow — from relating to their home environment, getting into school, making new friends, to even traumatic experiences such as abuse and bullying. Children who build resilience adapt better to challenges, trauma, tragedy, and numerous other sources of stress. Parents and teachers can help children develop resilience through positive thoughts and behaviors. There is no universal formula for building resilience in children. Children who are overwhelmed or troubled should be encouraged to talk to their parents, teachers, a counselor, psychologist, or other mental health professional. Here are some tips on building resilience in children:

  • Teach them to build social connections
  • Guide them to nurture a positive self-image
  • Teach them to keep things in perspective
  • Encourage self-discovery
  • Teach them to help others
  • Help them follow and maintain a daily routine
  • Ensure they take breaks from sources of stress
  • Teach them self-care
  • Get them to set realistic goals
  • Teach them to accept change as part of life

How Gender Affects Resilience

Gender studies suggest that men and women respond differently to adversity and trauma. Women usually thrive better than men during famines and epidemics. On the other hand, women are about twice as likely as men to develop PTSD after a traumatic event. The reasons for these gender differences are unclear, however, there are speculations that it may have to do with the coping styles specific to each gender based on cultural and societal upbringing.

Resilience in Women

Women use resilience to overcome societal challenges such as job discrimination, sexual harassment, domestic violence, as well as family pressure. Some studies have found that women adopt male characteristics when they face gender bias in the workplace.

Resilience in Men

Men with low resilience are more vulnerable to becoming severely depressed after the loss of a spouse or other tragic events. Studies have found that most men, particularly those of African American heritage, grow resilience from associating with family and religious support groups.

Resilience in Caregiving

Caring for someone such as a chronically ill loved one, an older adult or a psychologically unstable person can be an overwhelming source of stress and can negatively affect the caregiver’s well-being. Caregivers are advised to associate with relevant social support groups to help them build resilience. Family members, friends, physicians, and social workers will also be of great benefit in helping them thrive through their caregiving journey.

Now that you Know…

The world is currently facing more pressure than ever. The coronavirus pandemic has caused many disruptions in the world’s ways of doing things. There hasn’t been a better time to build resilience than now. The faster you build resilience, the better for you, the things in your care, and the people around you.