5 Ways to Practice Mental Health Resilience

Adversity is inevitable. The need to be loved is a part of the-human-condition, but there are also negative aspects of being human such pain and suffering. Seasons change, and so do people and their environments. Physical changes, developmental changes, transitions, and new phases of life.

Our stories are all different, just as we are uniquely human. People experience life, acceptance & belonging, happiness, and joy. People also experience death, loss, loneliness, anxiety, and sadness.

Some people have more adverse- experiences in childhood and traumatic-events through adulthood than others. Divorce or separation from a parent or guardian, economic hardship, racial trauma, abuse or neglect, and violence are some examples.

Our stories are not all happy, nor do they all have happy endings. Yet, humans have an amazing capacity for resilience to be able to not only survive but thrive amidst hardship.

Resilience is defined as “an ability to recover or adjust easily to misfortune or change”.

Here are 5 Ways to Practice Mental Health Resilience

  1. Develop Social Supports

Social-support-for-psychological-health is an important foundation for resiliency. By developing and maintaining a strong social support system, you can lean on others to help support you during times of stress, in a mutually supportive way. Social supports can include family, friends, partners, co-workers, helping professionals, religious/ spiritual leaders, and others in your local (or online) community.

  1. Reframe Adversity

A popular cognitive strategy of therapists is cognitive-reframing-for-stress-management. Reframing is a powerful technique that can help look at the same situation, but from a different viewpoint. Reframing can help cope with difficult emotions and unhelpful language was adapt. Instead of labeling yourself as a “failure” perhaps, a more accurate reframe would be a person who lost their job. A positive reframe would be an opportunity to pursue something new as a way to-turn-adversity-into-opportunity.

  1. Learn to Let Go by Moving Through Emotions

It is difficult to let go, especially things that “could of or should have been”. Loss can change one’s sense of identity. A person who loses a limb in an accident, a widow who loses their spouse, an unsettling trauma that keeps one reliving…it takes a lot of courage to sit with and move through the emotions as part of closing one chapter in life to move on to the next. A narrative-therapy approach to making meaning can be incredibly helpful to healing.

As much as one tries to avoid or control these experiences, acceptance-and-commitment-therapy can help one learn to mindfully accept the emotions. This does not mean that you agree with the event/ experience that triggers painful emotions but that you are able to observe emotions and events as you experience them and be able to live a meaningful life, in alignment with the values that are important.

  1. Take Good Care of Yourself

During times of adversity, oftentimes people can be their worst critic—a harsh voice during a time when what is needed is self-compassion. Extra care is needed to be healthy– physically and mentally. Getting enough sleep, eating nutritious food, getting enough exercise, meditating, and taking time out for fun are all important.

  1. Practice Wholehearted-Living

Author, Brene Brown who is known for her work studying vulnerability, courage, authenticity, and shame lists some 10 different components that are part of living a wholehearted life and directly provide examples of ways to live a life that build mental health resiliency.

Written By : Charlotte Johnson, MA, LPCC

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