How do you explain your feelings and worries? Who can help you if you are too shy to ask for help? Does anyone notice when it feels like your world is falling apart?
Young people all have different levels of resilience and different ways of responding to and recovering from stressful times. They also have different ways of showing when the demands that are being put upon them outweigh their capacity to cope. They might become emotional, they might withdraw, or they might become defiant, angry or resentful.
Building healthy and resilient young people isn’t about clearing adversity out of their way. Of course, if we could scoop them up and lift them over the things that would cause them to stumble, that would be a wonderful thing, but it wouldn’t necessarily be doing them any favours. A little bit of stress is life-giving and helps them to develop the skills they need to flourish. Strengthening them towards healthy living is about nurturing within them the strategies to deal with that adversity.
Resilience is not for the genetically blessed and can be strengthened at any age. One of the most exciting findings in the last decade or so is that we can change the wiring of the brain through the experiences we expose it to. The right experiences can shape the individual, intrinsic characteristics of a child in a way that will build their resilience.
Research tells us that it’s not rugged self-reliance, determination or inner strength that leads kids through adversity, but the reliable presence of at least one supportive relationship. In the context of a loving relationship with a caring adult, children have the opportunity to develop vital coping skills. The presence of a responsive adult can also help to reverse the physiological changes that are activated by stress. This will ensure that the developing brain, body and immune system are protected from the damaging effects of these physiological changes. Anyone in the life of a child can make a difference – family, teachers, coaches – anyone.
There are a few things you can do to help build up your resilience
Surround yourself with caring friends and family – psychologists say that surrounding yourself with people who will listen to you and support you is the most important way to build up resilience.
Try to look at the bigger picture and the long-term perspective during difficult times, this will help make sure that you don’t blow the challenges you are going through out of proportion.
Sometimes after we face challenges, some goals will no longer be achievable. In these circumstances it is important to keep moving forward and create new goals that you aspire to achieve.
It is always important to take care of your mental and physical health during and after adversities, if you are not mentally and/or physically healthy it can make facing challenges much harder than it needs to be.
Take time to look at difficult events that have happened in your past and see how you addressed and reacted to them, then specifically look at the strategies that you used that were effective and try to apply those in future arduous situations.
Keep in mind that everyone deals with adversities in different ways. So what might work for someone else might not be the best option for you.
Although not everyone deals with difficult times in the same way, remember that resilience is always important in helping you overcome the challenges you face.