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The importance of learning resilience in your adult life

Building resilience helps kids when navigating adversity and change, but it turns out, plenty of adults need a top-up to cope with a rapidly evolving world.
what is resilience

I take a deep breath and open the email. The message offers feedback on how I can improve my work. Suggestions on rewording and additions or paragraphs to be removed. It’s nothing new. It’s part of being a writer. 

So, why has it become increasingly hard to take this feedback on board? What was once water off a duck’s back now erodes at my confidence, making me question my abilities and heightens my anxiety. It seems that, as I’ve aged, I’m not as resilient as I used to be. Turns out, I’m not alone. We’re currently living in stressful times. 

The fallout from COVID stress lingers, and according to Beyond Blue, one in five people’s mental health is being extremely impacted by the rising cost of living. “Many of us have been ‘managing’ for several years,” says Diane Young, Psychotherapist, Trauma and Addiction Specialist at South Pacific Private treatment centre in Sydney. 

“During COVID we were separated from those we love, and lost people close to us. Our freedoms were curtailed and many of us faced our own mortality and the control of our destiny. “Now we’re faced with extreme cost of living pressures and the ongoing need to ‘keep all the balls in the air’ with less resources than ever. 

According to Beyond Blue, one in five people’s mental health is being extremely impacted by the rising cost of living. (Getty)

We can clearly see that the consistent and relentless loads we’re carrying are unsustainable. The juggle of the list of things to do can be overwhelming.” 

What is resilience?

Resilience plays a significant role in all areas of our lives. It allows us to communicate effectively and better manage our emotional intelligence. It positively impacts our mental wellbeing and increases our life satisfaction. 

“Resilience empowers us to hold a positive view of ourselves, knowing we can overcome adversity in a realistic way instead of blaming people or circumstances for where we find ourselves,” says Diane. 

“The steps we take when faced with problems can help us to strengthen our resilience and grow through the difficulties. Focusing on positive things gives us permission to make changes and move towards hopeful ways of being in the world.

Tips for how to practise resilience as an adult

Speak up and ask for help

Whether in the workplace or your personal life, speaking up and seeking assistance is a sign of strength, not weakness. By asking for help, you gain valuable insights and demonstrate resilience by actively addressing challenges.

Reframe your thoughts

Ask yourself “How can I change this situation for a better outcome? Is there an approach that would be more effective?”

Focus on what’s in your control

Rather than dwelling on external factors or circumstances beyond our influence, concentrate on actionable steps. For instance, if experiencing job insecurity, focus on updating your skills and networking, or exploring new career opportunities to regain a sense of control over your professional trajectory.

“Resilient women have weathered several losses in life and know they can survive and thrive. They have self-compassion and treat themselves kindly and with self-acceptance,” Diane Young says. (Getty)

Push yourself 

Take steps outside of your comfort zone. Ask yourself “What’s the worst that can happen?” Have a back-up plan for removing yourself from the situation in case you feel uncomfortable. Reward yourself for your confidence and success. 

Check out your self-care 

Prioritising self-care is fundamental to resilience, including adopting healthy sleep patterns, exercise routines and dietary habits. Allocate time for activities that nourish your physical, emotional, and mental wellbeing, such as regular exercise, meditation or spending time in nature. 

Manage your stress levels

Explore and cultivate a toolkit of various stress-reduction techniques tailored to your preferences and lifestyle. Incorporate practices such as deep breathing exercises, mindfulness meditation, or engaging in creative outlets such as writing or painting. Face your fear Research has shown that repeatedly putting yourself in a stressful situation (exposure therapy) can help increase your resilience as it helps change the associations you have with a particular scenario.

Re-evaluate life choices 

Reflect on your life choices and goals, assessing whether they align with your values and aspirations. If you’re feeling stuck or unfulfilled, consider reassessing your priorities and exploring new avenues for personal or professional growth. Seek guidance to navigate transitions and cultivate resilience in pursuing your passions.

Take small steps 

Break down daunting tasks or aspirations into manageable steps that you can tackle incrementally. Whether it’s starting a new project, learning a new skill, or making positive lifestyle changes, each small step contributes to your resilience and progress.

Why it matters for women

Women who are resilient, irrespective of their stage of life, will often exhibit several characteristics: Effective emotional regulation; a feeling of being able to be in control; the ability to problem-solve; and a strong social support system – usually other women and close family members.

“Women with resilience do not experience less distress, grief or anxiety, but they’re able to ask for help and use healthy coping strategies to foster growth and strength,” says Diane Young.

“Resilient women have weathered several losses in life and know they can survive and thrive. They have self-compassion and treat themselves kindly and with self-acceptance.”

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