Updated: Jan 17
Recently, I came across a wonderful article published in the Harvard Business Review about the 40+ years of research into Resiliency. There are many components to mental health that extend far beyond the notion of self-care. Taking a relaxing bath or spending time in nature can offer temporary relief from the life's daily stresses, but these strategies seldom solve the crux of the issue. When addressing serious trauma or when attempting to manage mental illness, it is important to repetitively practice principles such as these listed below.
Researchers uncovered 5 main characteristics of resiliency. These characteristics were found in those who had survived some of the worst hardships in modern history. It is difficult for most of us to imagine what it would be like to be a witness to war or to become a political prisoner. Amazingly, there are people who do endure these hardships and who do survive. Here are the main takeaways that I would like to share with you:
I) Resilient individuals tend to have deeply held beliefs that life is meaningful, and they derive meaning even in the most adverse circumstances.
Meaning is something that you have the power to define for yourself. Some may see their hardships as God's plan, and others may simply see their challenging situation as an undeniable learning opportunity that will make them stronger. However you define meaning, make it something that resonates with you personally.
II) Resilient individuals consciously form connections with others and are not afraid to strategically ask for help.
Socialization and forming connections is at the heart of humanity, however, technology is making it easier to become isolated from one another. There comes a time in everyone's life when we have to lean our friends and family and there is no shame in that. Foster the important relationships in your life on a continuous basis and reject the notion that asking for help is a sign of weakness; it may save your physical and mental health one day soon.
III) They learn to improvise with what is available to them. This may include leveraging a skillset in a new and creative fashion, or using familiar objects in unfamiliar ways to help their cause.
One of the most difficult things in life is adjustment to constant change. There is a tremendous amount of suffering that comes from resisting our ever-evolving experience on earth. Life is about action and adaptation, and those who can learn to improvise will have the most success. This is a practice that can be developed overtime, so do not worry if you believe that these skills do not come naturally to you. The next time you feel stuck, tell yourself that "there is a solution here somewhere" and try to utilize resources at your disposal to improve and improve your unique situation.
IV) They exhibit an unfaltering acceptance of reality. This unblinking view helps them to problem-solve and decide the next best course of action.
An exorbitant amount of time can be spent on dwelling about the past or focusing on how things should be different in the present. Life is chaotic, plain and simple. Bad things happen to good people every second of everyday. The most resilient among us do not keep score with the external world, they merely accept reality and bravely move forward. Again, this is a practice that can be developed overtime through a personal commitment to keep learning how to view the world as indiscriminate, rather than always taking things personally.
V) They tend to exhibit a sense of humour, albeit dry or dark humour at times. Researchers believe that it provided survivors with a critical sense of perspective and offered a way to connect with others.
Humour is another form of social glue that binds us together. Sadly, comedy and humour are rapidly fading from our culture due to the hyper-politicization of nearly every topic in public life. If you were born with a sense of humour, do not lose it. If you lack a sense of humour, cultivate it. Humour is more than laughing or finding something funny, it is a powerful form of communication that can offer a sense of connection and understanding.
I hope you can apply some of these into your own life. My practice has started to see an increase in mental health symptoms with nearly every patient. Please do not suffer alone and reach out if you could use additional support. Naturopathic doctors are well-equipped to help you build resiliency for today and for tomorrow.
Book your initial consultation here - https://www.naturopathyyc.ca/book-now
-Dr. Riley, ND
(Original article - https://hbr.org/2002/05/how-resilience-works?ab=at_art_art_1x1)