Improved resilience directly correlates to improved mental health. It stands to reason that being able to handle adversity in a positive way will only strengthen your mental health. Studies have proven the link between the two.
More resilient people will exercise more often (helps fight depression) eat better (helps fight depression) experience less anxiety, are less lonely and are under less perceived stress.
Becoming more resilient doesn’t just happen, it requires work in a lot of areas. There are always plenty of improvements to be made however.
What Is Resilience?
Resilience is the ability to adapt in the face of adversity, stress, tragedy and trauma. Being resilient doesn’t mean you won’t experience these things, it is more about your ability to rebound from these adversities. Strengthening your resilience will help you to manage better while you experience these set backs, which in itself can improve your personal growth, your confidence and your mental health.
The Core Components Of Resilience
These have been broken up into the 7 C’s of resilience by medical experts. They are as follows:
Competence – This relates to your ability to successfully handle stressful situations using the skills you have (or the skills you will learn over time)
Confidence – It’s no good having the skills to handle those difficult situations if you don’t have the confidence in your own abilities to use them.
Connection – Having connections to friends and family will aid in your sense of belonging, as well as allow you to feel supported and loved, and give support and love.
Character – Being deeper in touch with who you are and what your values are will help to make you more resilient in the face of adversity, as well as help you to make life choices that are in line with your values.
Contribution – If you feel you are personally making a positive contribution to the world, it helps to reinforce your own values and sense of worth in the world. The gratitude you receive from making your contribution also helps to show you that your value driven choices are appreciated and it enhances your character and confidence.
Coping – It stands to reason that people who have better coping skills when met with uncomfortable situations tend to be more resilient people.
Control – Knowing that you have control over your own decisions and actions tends to help you to bounce back from life’s difficult situations more readily.
Here is some additional reading for you – it is 10 ways to build resilience
Resiliency is such a big topic and quite complex and deep, so it can be very useful to be able to compact things down into a more easy to follow format. Here are a couple of strategies to use resilience to fight depression and also just have better overall mental health.
This was taught to me in therapy and it has also been taught to my children in school by the resilience project as a way to improve children’s overall mental health. I’ve found it a great way to simplify everything into just a few easy to remember statements to follow throughout my life. GEMS stands for gratitude, empathy, mindfulness, strengths.
Gratitude – Notice the things that you have right now and don’t focus on the things you don’t have. These can be small things or they can be big things. Try starting a gratitude diary and write down two things every day that you are grateful for. This is a proven technique for enhancing positive thinking and seeing the best in any situation. By writing it down, it helps to reinforce that way of thinking and over time, the thinking will come naturally and you will be able to find the positives in many different situations.
Empathy – This is the ability to put yourself in someone else’s shoes and really understand what they are feeling and going through. Being kind and compassionate and taking the time to think before we speak or judge will help you to connect with that person on a much more emotional level.
Mindfulness – The art of being present is a difficult one to truly master! Try to slow things down, beginning with your breathing, and pay attention to the sounds, sights and smells around you. Being mindful and present will make it far easier to use your gratitude and empathy.
Strengths – Take the time to understand what your own strengths are and how you can apply them in difficult situations. Over time and with practice, gratitude, empathy and mindfulness will become your strengths, which will enhance your resilience greatly.
This is another strategy that was taught to me in therapy and it goes hand in hand with the GEMS strategy. It stands for laughter, exercise, music, social.
Laughter – Find something that makes you laugh. That can be a funny movie or TV show or a video on Youtube (look up fail compilations or coub compilations if you need some inspiration. Try not to laugh compilations are also good).
Exercise – kind of self explanatory this one! Just get moving! You don’t have to train for a marathon or get all hardcore gym junkie, just going for a walk every day or even playing a sport with your friends is a great way to get that serotonin flowing.
Music – Listen to some songs that generate a positive emotion in you. That means stay away from the depressing James Blunt type of music and listen to something uplifting, motivational or relaxing. Anything that inspires your mind to take you to a more beneficial place.
Social – Connect with people and focus on building those connections. This will bring happiness and positivity into your life. I understand that sometimes when we’re dealing with depression and low self-esteem that we don’t feel like connecting with anyone, but if you push yourself you will find that it is well worth the effort.