Awareness Education

Building a Strong Mind: Practical Steps for Enhancing Psychological Resilience


Throughout our lives, since the time we are born, we face several challenges, be it in school, career, relationships, or in life altogether. Some people, for many reasons, couldn’t fight off these challenges and accept their defeat in life. However, some not only fight and overcome these difficult situations but also thrive in them. These people are what we call resilient individuals. Let us understand more deeply the concept of psychological resilience and what are the underlying factors that help people overcome adversities and build mental strength.

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What is Psychological Resilience

Resilience can simply be understood as a process of thriving in difficult situations and adapting positively to the environment post overcoming it. Psychological resilience is the capacity of an individual when he/she is exposed to traumatic events or sustained difficulties in their life, yet cultivates enough strength to adapt positively throughout their life.

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Resilience can be understood in the following ways:-

  • Resilience is a developmental process, unfolding over time and circumstances.
  • Resilience can be understood as a process that goes throughout one’s life. It is not a result but a gradual journey that leads an individual to achieve remarkable strength and coping mechanisms.
  • Resilience involves a complex interaction of multiple mechanisms ranging from the individual level to the structural.
  • Resilience involves capacity, negotiation, and adaptation.

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Research over time

Early resilience research focused on identifying personality traits that allow positive outcomes under extreme hardship. It originated in traumatology and developmental psychology, with studies focusing on adults and children. The Kauai Longitudinal Study, led by Werner and Smith, identified key attributes predicting resilience among high-risk children. The research was crucial in understanding and promoting resilience in the face of adversity. However, early approaches had limitations, such as oversimplifying adults’ reactions to trauma and oversimplifying adaptive capabilities.

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Additionally, the absence of psychopathology does not necessarily indicate a person’s thriving. Epidemiological approaches were necessary but insufficient, as psychology aims to understand the why and how of humans. In the 1980s, psychologists began to examine other factors associated with an absence of psychopathology, including cultural context, social relationships, and neurobiological processes. Adolescent resilience can be attributed to many factors, including individual characteristics, social support, and resources available at the time of crisis.

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Researchers began to conduct cross-cultural studies, use qualitative methods, and integrate marginalized communities to understand cultural expressions of resilience and identify community-specific strengths.

Overcoming Adversity

Adversities are situations that lead us to feel overwhelmed, helpless, depressed, and hopeless. For example, the death of a close family member, natural disasters, like earthquakes, tsunamis, divorces, accidents, etc. Some people overcome these adversities very strongly and some need assistance. Many factors contribute to overcoming these difficult times, including biological endowments, personality factors, available resources, the nature of social support, etc.

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But the question is. What happens after an individual weathers off these life storms? A concept studied in psychology called Post-Traumatic Growth is the answer to this question. In simpler terms, it means, experiencing positive change after an adverse situation and adapting to one’s environment efficiently. Let us see what are its key elements:

  • A renewed appreciation for life
  • Enhanced personal strength
  • Meaningful relationships
  • Spiritual growth, and
  • Finding new goals in life

Apart from this, there is an increase in an individual’s self-efficacy and emotional intelligence, he/she is better equipped with enough cognitive mechanisms to deal with future stress, becomes hopeful, and takes situations as challenges rather than letting them get overpowered by them.

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How to Cultivate a Resilient Mindset?

  • Social Support: Social support is a very important factor when it comes to cultivating a resilient mindset. It helps us in believing that someone is there for us. Whenever, a difficult situation, always make sure to reach out to your loved ones and never hide yourself behind the curtains of isolation.

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  • Healthy Lifestyle: Always take care of your body. It is a very important contributor to building resilience. If our body is not healthy, it is tired, that will also affect our mind. One should try and live a healthy lifestyle, including giving ample amounts of nutrition, sleep, and exercise, which will ultimately help us in dealing with stressful life situations.
  • Practicing Mindfulness: recently psychologists have been very much interested in the concept of mindfulness because it has many positive impacts on an individual’s life. Journaling, meditation, and yoga help us to connect with ourselves and be hopeful for the future, which is an utmost requirement in times of adversity. It helps us understand things that we have and value them.
  • Avoiding Negative Thinking: It has been seen that when people experience some negative event in their life, instead of finding a solution to their problem, they take the help of alcohol or other substances to hide their pain. They don’t realize that a few minutes of relief from their pain will not help them eradicate it. Instead, one should always seek the help of constructive outlets.
  • Finding a Goal: It is very important to have a purpose in life. When people don’t know, which road to walk, they often choose the wrong path. A goal will help increase one’s self-esteem which can contribute to building resilience in turn. One should focus on developing attainable goals which will give a sense of moving forward in life.

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  • Healthy thought Patterns: It is of utmost importance to cultivate healthy thoughts because they help us move ahead in our lives even when it becomes hard. One should break ties with negative thinking and embrace positive thinking, it not only helps us find solutions to our problems but also fills us with hope for the future which helps us in fighting.
  • Accepting change: One of the very important parts of life is to understand that nothing is here to last permanently. Life keeps changing, something which we have today, might not have in the future. Accepting that some things you cannot change will help you in understanding, something that you might change if focus a little attention on it.
  • Being Positive: Being positive during adversities is easier said than done. But, it is achievable. It’s hard to be hopeful when things are hard but it will provide you with enough strength to achieve what you want in life. Try to focus on what you want than what you cannot have.
  • Seeking Professional Help: finally, seeking help at the right time is what can help you the most during difficult situations. It is very crucial to build one’s resilience. Sometimes, it happens that we cannot share our innermost thoughts with our friends and family but we can share it with someone not known. So, one should always seek professional help without any hesitation.

In conclusion, Psychological resilience is an asset that people can build for themselves over time or learn through hardships. If a person is resilient he/she can fight any situation thrown at them and come out stronger. The idea is to never give up on life and live it like a hero. It’s important to understand that life is never constant, it will keep changing, some days will be good, and some will be taxing. However, a strong heart and mind will always find its way.

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References +

Building your resilience. (2020, February 1).

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