Resilience – Part one

Resilience – the mental and emotional strength muscle

As the summer draws to an end and the days grow shorter and darker many of us seem to suffer from the lack of sun and heat which help us to be cheerful, relaxed and positive. Christmas is only a few weeks away and we are putting ourselves under pressure to get in bookings for family gatherings, holidays, buying and sending cards and presents for family, friends, work colleagues, neighbours etc.

The pressure that we perceive raises our adrenaline and cortisol levels, our muscles contract and we become stressed, don’t sleep well, we are tired and still try to fit everything in, we lose our confidence, get irritable or depressed more easily.

All these symptoms are part of a completely natural process which humankind has developed long before we started working in offices, to a deadline, living in a society as a modern human being.

Caveman, – woman and – child already had to battle with the same symptoms and have developed coping strategies which helped them to stay resilient – positive, motivated and confident. We can do the same or similar.

And there are people who seem to bounce back from almost everything that life throws at them. We all know them and wish we had their qualities. They are not massively effected by grey and wet weather or low temperatures, they are really busy at work and with family at home but they still sleep well enough and are cheerful, optimistic and more or less confident and if something gets them down, they know how to get up again to focus on what is to come.

We all have this skill to a certain extent, some more, some less: It is called resilience and can be trained like a muscle. Everybody can learn how to be more resilient, children as well as adults and anybody in between:

Remember the last time you got something wrong? How did you react? Did you get stressed and decided you were just no good at what you had been trying to achieve and given up? Or did you decide, if it doesn’t work the way you attempted to get a result you would have to try it differently?

Being resilient makes our life easier. Life’s throwbacks are something to learn from, to get up again and move on and it’s a good skill to have in every day life as our society seems to become busier and busier. Women are not solely mothers anymore but also have a responsible job or two and are a partner at the same time. Men are not solely bread winners anymore and are relieved from every other duty, they are also parents and partners. All have to struggle with job insecurity, mortgages, change of gender roles, change of belief systems, politics etc. The world around us is changing and we have to stay strong while we change with it.

Children are a particularly sensitive and their happiness, confidence their feeling of self-worth and success in education and everyday life is determined by how well they have learned to cope right from the start.

Mental resilience also influences our physical resilience. If we are mentally worn out, we catch a cold much more easily and we all know what that does to our mental resilience.

Resilience can be learned:

Paying more attention to the positive things and nice situations in life, taking things for what they are rather than analyzing everything down to the bone, trusting oneself and others are just a few of the skills that help improving ones quality of life.

We all have different things that we could work on to up our resilience and we can do that at any age.


to be continued: Resilience – Part two – how resilience helps children