Resilience refers to our ability to cope with the challenges and stresses of life. Similarly, resilience may also refer to a person’s ability to return to his former situation after having experienced a lengthy period of stress or deprivation.

What is it about resilience?

Resilience has been called a stress buster of the decade. Stressors will surely come. Building your resilience means getting the tools and the skills you will need to be able to cope with adversity. Lots of things come up in life that confounds us – a setback, loss, rejection, an accident, getting fired, death of a loved one, or other forms of tragedy. Learning resilience means being able to weather the storm and bounce back without bitterness or becoming cynical. The challenge of coping with adversity comes with the newness of the event. For example, to be once married and suddenly losing your companion and having to adjust to a new lifestyle – cooking your food by yourself; if it is a man, taking care of the kids, coming home and not finding your soulmate there for you.

One of the most important things we can learn from past adversity is not to compound the original problem with a new one. Resilience is beneficial to learn and keep learning. You never know when you are going to need to build a new set of wings. Some people believe resilience is an inborn trait; you either have it or you don’t have it. Now that is not quite correct. You are born with some component characteristics that aid and abet the development of resilience. For example, temperament would affect resilience. Some people react poorly to stressful situations. Some others are born optimists. Still, others have more courage and are more prone to taking risks. All these qualities may determine the ease with which you develop resilience, but determination and practice can help anyone foster resilience. It is more of a learned process than an inherited gift.

It goes without saying that Nigerians are known to be highly resilient. There are two main things we can say we have going for us as a people – hope and meaning. Hope is one of the more effective tools we have at our disposal. Managers are generally known to be a people that have a positive outlook about the future. It has been shown that people who have believed in a better future have managed to deal more effectively with difficult situations. Hope is the light at the end of the tunnel showing us the way to continue and insisting that we owe it to ourselves to do so. The twin sister of hope is meaning or significance. This is the knowledge that there is a reason for existence and for our having to face difficult times. The knowledge that suffering has meaning gives us reason to struggle through hardships. This meaning may not be the same for everyone. Each person must find his or her own personal meaning and significance in life. Some people find meaning in a political or ideological stand, some find it in religion. Others find it in their children. No doubt, the average Nigerian finds meaning in religion.

How do you grow resilience?

  1. Accept change as an integral part of existence. This is an important perspective in handling adversity. It helps you to accept circumstances that cannot be changed while at the same time focusing on the things that can be changed.
  2. Readjust your identity. When life hands you a setback, readjust your identity. See yourself as a problem solver. Take decisive actions rather than detaching yourself and wishing the problem away. Do not see the crisis as insurmountable. Look beyond the present to how future circumstances can be a little better.
  3. Six opportunities for self-discovery. Adversities may allow us the privilege of getting to appreciate our weaknesses and strengths. It also allows us the opportunities of appreciating and valuing relationships increase our sense of worth, having a more developed spirituality, and the heightened appreciation for life.
  4. Maintain a right perspective. Be optimistic. Be positive in your outlook. Expect good. Visualise good, rather than worrying about what you fear. At the face of a painful event, consider this stressful situation in a broader context and keep a long-term perspective. Avoid blowing the event out of proportion. An accurate and current knowledge about the situation will be helpful. This helps to neutralise exaggerated fears which often stems from the unknown and helps to make informed decisions.
  5. Devote time to relationships. It is proven that people who have close and meaningful ties with family and friends both create a sense of belonging and mutuality and create a support network for hard times.
  6. Express yourself. Talk about your feelings with people close to you. This would be a good way of letting off steam.
  7. We need to take responsibility for our health by ensuring a good well-balanced diet, tuning of our bodies through exercises and taking in of rest. Adversity place taxing demands on our health and may deplete the body’s physical resources. This typically results in fatigue and physical aches and pains. The practice of daily exercise helps to make you relax easily and maintain a natural balance. This helps to elevate the mood and ensure peace of mind. As a way of relaxing, you can pick up hobbies you enjoy.
  8. Go out of your way to help others. Helping others has been shown to improve the feeling of control, capability, and to help cope with stressful situations.

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