I’m sure we all could rattle off a list of clichés on perseverance and determination. We’ve been told our whole lives that “failure isn’t fatal” and “if you fall seven times, stand up eight.”
Well, I’ve got another cliché for you:
Easier said than done.
It’s one thing to experience failure and acknowledge the need to move forward, but it’s another battle entirely to pull yourself up by your bootstraps (last cliché, I promise) and actually do the work.
The ability to bounce-back from set-backs is known as resiliency; a trait that has been tied to a decreased susceptibility to mental health conditions, as well as better social and emotional health.
In a way, resiliency is like a muscle. The more we train it, the more capable we are of facing and moving on from failure.
It is important to note that resiliency doesn’t protect us from set-backs, or ensure that we will never face challenges. Rather, it equips us with the tools to face them head head-on, grow, and bounce-back stronger than before.
So, if resiliency is a muscle, how do we train it?
I’m glad you asked!
Connect with your Community
One word: infrastructure.
A support system holds us together, especially during hardships. This framework, built of people we trust, can look different for every person.
For some, it might be their family. For others, their friends. It can really be anyone who surrounds you, from your coworkers to your workout crew or your roommates.
Its versatility, however, does not make it any less important.
Having a supportive community has been shown to have a significant impact on mental health and, subsequently, resiliency.
In this article from NAMI (National Alliance on Mental Illness), three specific benefits of community are outlined: belonging, support, and purpose.
When you are surrounded by people who share similar values and beliefs, you identify as a part of the group and find joy in “fitting in.”
Now, I want to make sure to distinguish between belonging and conformity; in a supportive community, you fit in by being your true self- not by changing to be more like everyone else.
These people that you experience a sense of belonging with will be there to support you when times get tough. Likewise, you will be there to support them.
This support can be shown in many ways; it could be lending a helping hand, being a shoulder to cry on, or even just listening to the person who's struggling.
When it comes to purpose, having a role within your community can add meaning to your participation. Knowing that other people are relying on you, and that you can fulfill those needs, can be an inspiration to bounce-back from setbacks!
Sounds nice, right?
But how do you build this community?
It’s going to take some work and experimentation. Maybe you’re lucky and already have a close family or group of friends. In this case, being intentional about maintaining those relationships is important.
On the other hand, if you are struggling to find a place where you fit in, there are several things you can do. First, ask yourself the following questions:
What are your values?
What are your hobbies?
What are your goals and ambitions?
Finding people who align with what you find important is a great place to start. For example, if you enjoy reading in your free time, join (or start!) a book club. If you enjoy working out, try a new group fitness class. The possibilities are endless!
Develop a Routine
A good routine is powerful. In the wake of a set-back, it can act as a baseline that we aim to return to. Having healthy habits set in place makes it easier to continue those behaviors in the face of hardships.
The areas of your life where routines could be implemented are endless. This strategy can take the form of…
A Morning Routine
A Bedtime Routine
A Workout Routine
A Meal Prep Routine
…and more! In fact, it’s a good idea to have some sort of routine in almost all aspects of your life. This helps ingrain healthy habits, and soon you won’t even think twice about doing them.
Some say that it takes 21 days to build a habit, but in reality it can be much longer than that. Aiming for three months of consistency is a lofty goal, but there's no time to start like the present. Don't let the timeline intimidate you- instead use it as an inspiration to start building your capacity for resiliency!
When healthy habits are a part of your routine, it is easier to get back on track after experiencing a set-back. Routine offers a sense of consistency when your life may feel tumultuous.
What routine will you start to implement? Today is a great day for Day #1.
The importance of self-care is universal, and can mean something different for each person. However, there are certain types of self-care that are more beneficial for resilience.
For example, it is important to attend to your own wants and needs, but it is also important to care for yourself by being healthy. So yes, eat the candy you’re craving, but make sure you get your veggies in too.
Similarly, allow yourself to rest when you need it, but get in an adequate amount of physical activity as well.
Self-care is the healthy balance of mental, physical, and emotional needs. Let’s talk about some examples in more detail:
Enjoying your hobbies
Having something to look forward to on a daily basis is one of the most motivating forms of self care. A hobby that interests you and sparks your creativity can be a great way to learn and experience personal growth.
Maybe you love photography or reading. Maybe it’s a recreational sports league or baking contests.
Whatever it is that keeps you curious and eager to learn is a great form of mental self-care.
Emotional self-care takes on many forms as well- and it’s not just venting to your friends.
There are more effective ways to unload and recharge, and it may take some time to find what’s right for you.
Meditation, for example, is a great way to clear your mind and re-center. Focus on deep breaths and the idea of letting go of whatever it is that’s causing you stress in that moment.
Deep breathing can also be applied to yoga- a more active way of relieving stress. Yoga puts your focus on stretching the body and feeling it move. Leaning into the various sensations will take your mind off of the stress you are experiencing.
Rest & Recovery
It's hard to beat a little R&R.
One final example of self-care is rest, which is essential to your physical well-being. As important as it is to exercise, it is just as important to let your body recover and recharge. For more information about recovery, and how to be intentional about how you do it, check out our blog post “Recovery: The Missing Piece” here.
Practicing self-care on a regular basis will put you in a better state physically, mentally, and emotionally. All of which will increase your ability to bounce-back from set-backs.
Give Back to Your Community
It is easy to underestimate the positive influence of a supportive community, especially when experiencing failure or set-backs. However, isolation has a high correlation to mental illness, so it is important to recognize when you are starting to pull away from those around you.
As mentioned earlier, surrounding yourself with a supportive community has many benefits, including a sense of purpose. With this in mind, making an extra effort to be involved (especially when you don’t want to be) can have extraordinary effects on resilience.
Sometimes, it's nice to take your mind off of whatever set-backs you may be facing. And what better way to do it than by helping others?
Spending time in your community will not only offer a productive distraction, but will also further develop your relationships with people who are there to support you.
Giving back can take many different forms, and doesn’t have to be something extravagant or sacrificial. It could be as simple as striking up a conversation with someone you haven’t spoken to in a while. Or even sharing your hobbies, such as inviting a friend to go on a hike or baking a neighbor cookies!
When you reach out to people in your community, you strengthen your support system and increase your capability for resilience.
Go Easy on Yourself
When you make a mistake, it is important to own up to it. Turning a blind eye to our short-comings prevents us from experiencing personal growth.
However, it is also important to not over-analyze these situations or fixate on failure.
The next time you are going through something difficult, make sure to give yourself (and those around you) a little slack. Stress can build fast and manifest in negative ways. We must recognize when this is happening so that we can intentionally implement resilience strategies.
For example, if you feel yourself getting overwhelmed, give yourself permission to take a step back from the situation and practice self-care. Often, taking the time to cater to our needs is the kickstart needed to get back on track.
Keep Things in Perspective
At the end of the day, everyone faces set-backs, and keeping this in mind can help put our troubles in perspective. In the moment, failure may feel like the end of the world, and as if there is no way to recover.
However, taking a second to look back at all the challenges that you have already overcome can act as an inspiration to get back on track. Think back to these challenges, and what strategies you implemented to cope with them. Analyzing your past behaviors will help you develop a plan of action to move forward.
Another way to change your perspective is to take a step back from the situation, and see where you can find positivity. This mindset allows you to more clearly analyze the situation and discover possible solutions. Optimism and resilience are closely tied, as are their positive effects on mental health.
Roadmap to Resiliency
Implementing the strategies in this post will not only increase your capacity for resilience, but also have a significant impact on your overall health and wellness.
As a summary, I've linked below bKYND's Roadmap to Resiliency; a free download that can act as a reference for your journey. It's never too early, or too late, to start building a strong foundation and support system. In life, failure is inevitable, but how we respond to those circumstances is up to us.
Resilience is a muscle, and there's no time like the present to start training!
Roadmap to Resiliency
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