We have all heard about resiliency to help with our mental health. But, what exactly is resiliency? And more importantly, how do we become more resilient? In this post, we will dive into how to build a mental resiliency plan.
What Is Resiliency?
Resilience is defined as a biological or psychological ability to cope with stress. It also includes the capacity to maintain a healthy emotional state when faced with challenges and adverse conditions. When we talk about resiliency in mental health, we are often talking about the second part of that definition, the capacity to maintain a healthy emotional state.
Resilience is how we cope emotionally with challenges and hardships. So, the bigger question becomes, how do we make ourselves more mentally resilient?
Many things can make us more resilient, but mental health professionals agree on some of the most important ones. Here are four key ways to help improve mental resilience:
The first way mental health professionals suggest increasing mental resilience is through optimism. When faced with a difficult situation, it can be easy to become pessimistic and focus on the negative. But, mental health professionals suggest that you can become more resilient to mental illness symptoms by developing an optimistic attitude toward challenges.
There are many ways that you can become more optimistic. Mental health professionals suggest finding outlets for positive self-talk. It is essential to avoid using language that focuses on negativity, like “I will never get better.” Instead, mental health professionals suggest using language that focuses on the positive.
They also recommend that you take notice of small successes, like when you can go a day without using negative language and acknowledge them. Mental health professionals suggest increasing optimism by finding a creative outlet or learning something new. Using mental health techniques in your daily life also helps improve mental strength and resiliency to mental illness symptoms.
The second way mental health professionals suggest increasing mental resilience is by finding purpose. This includes establishing goals that increase feelings of meaning in your daily life, like spending more time with loved ones or trying to get more exercise.
This is where finding a hobby can give your mind something else to focus on to help you find meaning in life. I know many people who suffer from depression, and this has helped them quite a lot. It gives them something to work for. I personally love to fly-fish or tie my own flies. It’s incredible how much better I feel after a morning spent in a river. The act of immersing myself in an activity that places me in the middle of nature with all of the sounds, smells, and sights has been incredibly beneficial for me.
Another great way to add purpose is to volunteer. Volunteering has long been shown to elevate mood and mental health in various ways. It can give you a sense of purpose and belonging. Doing good for others releases mental health chemicals like serotonin and dopamine, making us feel good. It can also increase social ties and provide a positive distraction from mental health struggles.
Having trouble finding volunteer opportunities? Check out your local Rotary club. Rotarians are a worldwide business organization, and professional leaders are united to create positive, sustainable change in their communities. If that isn’t for you, check out the local Kiwanis or Lions clubs. Both are community-oriented service organizations that strive to meet community needs. Through volunteer service, members develop leadership and team-building skills and a sense of personal responsibility and empowerment.
Working in the trenches as an adult can be deeply satisfying. Still, you can’t deny that there is something exceptional about volunteering. There’s just something extra rewarding about helping those in need and making a positive impact on your community and yourself in the process.
When mental health symptoms take over your life, it can be easy for your days to blend together and become unfulfilling. When this happens, you might lose focus on the most important things in your life. However, mental health professionals suggest that by finding meaning in your daily routine, you can improve mental resilience.
3. Positive mental health practices
The third way mental health professionals suggest increasing mental resilience is through positive mental health practices. This includes getting enough sleep every night, avoiding alcohol and drugs, eating good food, exercising daily, meditating or praying, and surrounding yourself with supportive people.
In my experience, this is the most challenging goal to accomplish for first responders, especially for police and firefighters. There is a closed culture that exists in these professions. The result is that our first responders tend to only associate and talk to other first responders. The result of this tight social circle is a lot of complaining.
Its human nature to sit around and complain about the organization or profession as a whole. At the end of the day, all of this complaining amounts to nothing. Nothing is changed, nothing is solved, and in fact, you’re left with more feelings of negativity and hopelessness.
To break that cycle:
- Expand your social circle.
- Join a new social circle.
- Join a running club.
- Join a Crossfit gym.
- Join a church group.
Literally anything. Just make sure it’s not filled with people in the same industry.
I tend to not talk ‘cop’ with other people when I’m off-duty. I made that change years ago, and my mental health has never been stronger.
4. Stable relationships
The fourth way mental health professionals suggest increasing mental resilience is through stable, positive relationships with others. This includes getting help from other people, whether your therapist or friends and family members. Having other supportive people in your life can help decrease mental illness symptoms and make you more resilient to mental health challenges.
Previously in this article, we talked about finding friends outside of your industry. Really commit to them. Find ways to open up and openly share with them so that you can stay mentally healthy. It’s about having healthier mental habits.
On the flip side, there are also unhealthy mental habits that you should try and stop. These include: trying to do everything yourself and never relying on others for help; avoiding talking about your mental health with others because of fear or shame; shutting down if someone confronts you – instead take their feedback and adapt it to your mental health habits.
Being resilient does not mean that you have to go it alone and always be okay. It actually means facing mental illness without falling apart or giving up hope that things will get better. Many mental health professionals can help with this journey, so do not hesitate to reach out for support.
As mental health professionals agree, resiliency is something that you can learn and improve upon. They suggest focusing on optimism, finding purpose in your daily routine, practicing positive mental health practices, and building good relationships with others as ways to increase mental resilience. As mental health symptoms decrease, mental strength and resiliency to mental illness symptoms increase too.