R is for Resilience

The Oxford English Dictionary definition of resilience is ‘The capacity to recover quickly from difficulties; toughness.’ 

Psychologists define it as the process of adapting well in the face of adversity, trauma, tragedy, threats or significant sources of stress.

October is Breast Cancer Awareness Month. People suffering from cancer, as you are most likely aware, have to deal with a lot of trauma and significant stress to their mental and physical health. 

When battling a life-threatening disease like breast cancer, it can be hard to adapt to the new normal and accept the changes to one’s life as uncertainty is increased. One thing that can be hugely beneficial, is practising resilience. It can help you to develop that sense of control and have a more positive mindset.

There are so many traumas, tragedies, and stressful situations that a person can go through. Taking cancer survivors as an example, it is amazing how impactful inner strength can be and resilience. If you find yourself in a difficult situation, try to remember that you are stronger than you think!

Sadly, throughout our lives, we will come up against difficult, stressful and emotionally hard situations. However, somehow we have to get through them and come out the other side still in one piece. You may experience big or small impacts on your life, but every impact will affect each person differently. Bouncing back and adapting to this impact is where resilience comes in. So, are you feeling tough right now?

Now, being resilient won’t eliminate stress or eradicate life’s challenges, but it will give you the strength to tackle problems head-on, overcome adversity, and move on with your life.

Some people are naturally resilient and have the mechanisms already to help them remain unflappable in the face of adversity and challenges. This could be a result of genetics, physical fitness, or their own mental health and mindset. But if you are someone that resilience does not come naturally to, anyone can learn and develop it!

So, how do you build resilience?

Try reframing your thoughts by looking at negative situations realistically, but in a way that doesn’t center on blaming or brooding over what can’t be changed. Try looking for small ways you can tackle the situation or problem and make that change happen. Focus on the positive things you can do. Try to view the situation or event as an opportunity to challenge yourself or maybe develop new skills.

How about seeking support? Talking about difficulties you are coping with doesn’t make them go away. Talking and sharing with a supportive friend, family member, loved one, group, or medical professional can make you feel like you have someone on your side. Focus on finding trustworthy and compassionate individuals who validate your feelings, which will support the skill of resilience. Talking could also gain you new insight or ideas that may help you better manage the challenges you’re dealing with. This can help to develop the skill of resilience. 

Look at your situation and begin to focus on what you can control. You may be feeling overwhelmed and think that things are beyond your control. However, there will be some things that you will have direct control of. Worrying about what you don’t have any control of will just waste your mental energy. So, seek support and talk this through if you are unsure of what you can control or not.

Manage your stress levels through self-care as this can help build your resilience. So, try and find ways to form healthy habits. These can include making sure you get enough sleep per night, getting enough exercise, drinking enough water or doing activities and hobbies that will completely relax you, like meditation or painting. You need to give your mind a chance to relax and recharge. So have a think, what do you enjoy doing that relaxes you? Write them down and make sure you do at least one of them each day.

Becoming more resilient will help you to grow and get through difficult situations more easily, whilst improving your life on the journey!

To find out more on this topic…

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