Mental resilience GESS Talks

Building Resilience and Mental Toughness in the Face of Adversity

Have you noticed how some people just bounce back when they face any challenges or adversities? They roll with the blows life throws at them with almost effortless ease.

For years I have tried to understand their secret. I have searched high and low, in books, research papers and self-books to very little avail.

So, I wondered if these people were born tough? The answer is NO, I have discovered that people who stand against adversity have a great deal of resilience and mental toughness, nothing more. But what skills we need to build our resilience and how can we normalize challenges and become more mentally tough.

Looking close at the term resilience it is commonly described as 'a person ability to recover quickly from difficulties' In its unadulterated form resilience could be considered a passive or perhaps neutral quality. 'I am resilient because I have to Not because I chose to be.

Now, mental toughness is defined as a collection of traits that allow a person to persevere through difficult circumstances and emerge without losing confidence. The difference lies in the positive component.
Life can really throw you a curve ball at any time and it is important to have that mental toughness to deal with any situation. How you deal with a stressful situation is directly related to your mental toughness.
Both resilience and mental toughness are developed through experiential learning, either through targeted development or coaching but remember you need to work at it.

So what can you do to increase your resilience and mental toughens? Looking at research and through personal experience I can share with you 5 way to become more resilient and cope in the face of adversity:

1. Identify resilient people.  If you look around with intention you will find many stories of people who have managed to overcome tough times through an optimistic mindset. Resilient people are everywhere, on the TV, radio, social media, in your family perhaps or your workplace. Draw from their experiences and acknowledge that every problem has a solution.

2. Change your internal narrative. This is not about repeating positive affirmations to ourselves. It is about giving ourselves a chance not to slip down the spiral of self-doubt and pessimism. We need to learn to move from impossible thoughts processing to practical thoughts. If you are stuck in a bad situation or negative pattern of thoughts, you cannot get to those helpful thoughts. Without an optimistic approach, we can get stuck. We need the skill of optimism: intentionally practising an optimistic mindset. This optimism is about framing adversity in a healthy, realistic way and taking ownership of finding solutions – exactly what we need right now. Practice building, maintain and tracking positive emotions.

3. Stay connected. Research shows a period of uncertainty and lack of control in our daily lives can lead to increased anxiety. In times like this, it is important we build and maintain positive. Positive social support can improve our resilience in coping with stress. So, do reach out every day to friends and family.

4. Practice gratitude. The benefits of practising gratitude are almost endless. People who regularly practise gratitude by taking time to notice and reflect upon the things they are thankful for, experience more positive emotions, feel more engaged, sleep better, show a higher level of compassion and kindness.

5. Do good to feel good. Research has shown that doing good increases production of serotonin, a neurotransmitter that regulates mood, in the body. Low levels of serotonin are often found in people suffering from depression. Doing good can also help put things in perspective if you are faced with people who are suffering tougher challenges in their lives.

The bottom line:
Hard and challenging times don't last. Tough people do. Most of us are tougher than we think.