Building resilience

October is mental health month and you’re invited to engage with this year’s theme: building resilience: communities and connections.

Recently, many words have worked their way into our everyday vocabulary, such as lockdown, isolation, quarantine, agile, and pivot to name just a few. One which has much resonance is resilience.

The Oxford Dictionary defines resilience as, “the capacity to recover quickly from difficulties, toughness. The ability of a substance or object to spring back into shape; elasticity”. It’s this quality that will allow us to overcome obstacles, challenges, hardship, and adversity without being defeated by them.

Resilience is a quality that many of us unconsciously embodied to get through the challenges of the last few years, and it’s also the quality that will continue to carry us forward. Resilience is a word that will retain relevancy well beyond the COVID-19 pandemic.

Resilience is also a key focus during National Mental Health Month this October, focused on the theme of 'Building resilience: communities and connections'.

There are a lot of articles being written about resilience out of the pandemic through the lens of science and the unpacking of psychological and neural mechanisms. However, it’s a concept that has been at the heart of our spiritual traditions for a very long time. We read in the Bible: “God gave us a spirit not of fear, but of power and love”. Taoism teaches us: “if you correct your mind the rest of your life will fall into place” and from the Bhagavad Gita we are reminded: “happiness arises from the serenity of one’s own mind”.

But are we born with resilience, or can we teach ourselves to be more resilient just as we can learn other skills through practice? The Stoic philosopher Seneca tells us: “everyone faces up more bravely to a thing for which [they] have long prepared for, … even being withstood if they have been trained for in advance."

Science supports ways to build and nurture our resilience through practises such as improving sleep, taking the time to unplug and recharge, practising gratitude and even the importance of socialising. Faith may also contribute to building resilience through aspects like the emotional support which worship may provide. Therefore, it stands to reason that the power to build resilience may already exist within us and can be honed just like any other new skill, through practice and perseverance.

This Mental Health Month, you’re encouraged to ask yourself: what lessons will guide you through the busy months ahead? What ‘resilience training’ will you use to sharpen your skills? How will you further develop your resilience to propel you forward into a new and beyond?

Other resilience resources

Want to focus on building your resilience? Look at our ACU resources and upcoming EAP courses to help you strengthen your resilience.

Recommended Ted Talks on resilience

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