Resilience can be described as the capability of a system, organization or individual to recover or maintain successful performance and positive wellbeing in face of dramatically changing circumstances, adverse conditions or misfortune.

Numerous experts over time have defined resilience from the perspective of response to stress, trauma and mental illness; as such, resilience is the ability to:
• Face distress and trauma without developing a mental illness and remaining symptom-free (Bonanno et al., 2006; New et al., 2009; Sarchiapone et al., 2009; Shrivastava & Desousa, 2016; Tiet et al., 1998)
• Recover from mental illness after facing extreme distress and trauma (Nitschke et al., 2009; Shi, et al., 2019)
• Regulate the body’s stress response system through relaxation (Charney, 2004)
• Successfully navigate and adapt to challenges and daily life (Masten & Barnes, 2018; Block & Kremen, 1996)
Resilience would result in numerous abilities, amongst which:

  1. Somatic and emotional self-regulation: capacity to identify triggers and dysfunctional patterns of behaviour, whilst containing negative emotions and remaining calm under pressure; regulating body and mind to a state of relaxation that is conducive of rest, learning, memory
  2. Cognitive reframing: capacity to find alternative valid perceptions and restructure the way we think about a situation, keep the big picture in mind, find the positive, don’t assume bad intention
  3. Optimism a higher positive-to-negative ratio of emotions (3:1 for emotions, 5:1 for successful relationships with other people), but also capacity to see things as transitory and belief they will get better, capacity to see the positive aspect in a multitude of situations, finding meaning and purpose in a crisis or negative circumstance
  4. Self-confidence: believing that we can make things happen and we can achieve our goals
  5. Social regulation: use the network of support to regulate body and mental wellbeing

How to attain these competences?

  1. Somatic and emotional self-regulation: mindfulness practices, grounding techniques, deep and acute relaxation
  2. Cognitive restructuring: CBC model, core beliefs (replace defensive-blamer or self-criticising voices with inner-nurturing), self-observation and trigger identification, healthy coping mechanisms
  3. Optimism: forgive, be kind, practice gratitude (consciously choosing to focus on the positive and be appreciative of what life brings us), practice acceptance, pray
  4. Self-confidence: identify skills, competencies, (tree exercise), life values and beliefs, vision and purpose, align activities with life purpose, use agency: deploy an internal locus of control by influencing things that are in our control and distinguishing them from those that are outside of our control, self-care (healthy eating, exercising, etc)
  5. Social regulation: maintain healthy relationships, learn communication skills (active listening, constructive feedback, 4 horsemen of communication), building vertical and horizontal trust, integrate in different communities

Some of the most common symptoms when resilience is low are collected under the definition of burnout. If a person perceives daily stimuli as threatening, overwhelming for the system of resources, they might experiment:
• exhaustion (physical and emotional): decreased empathy, less patience
• depersonalization: detachment, irritable, cynical, poor listening and communication, damaged relationship
• ineffectiveness: feelings of incompetency, helplessness and hopelessness, displaying negative attitudes and frustration

To produce a change, it means you need to be in contact with yourself and realise what is going on with your mind, body and behaviour. Without self-awareness (pre-contemplation), there cannot be any consideration for the existence of a problem (contemplation), let alone for preparing some actions (preparation) or actual implementation of new behaviour (action). Once new behaviours are sustained for a while (maintenance), habits become innate, though relapse might still be possible under old triggers and old ways of responding. (Gordon Training International by its employee Noel Burch in the 1970s)
Stress, fear, and anxiety cannot be felt in a relaxed body (theory of reciprocal inhibition). It does however require continuous relaxation of your body throughout the day to balance your nervous system and extinguish the conditioned response through relaxation. One trial or attempt cannot bring permanent relief especially if your triggers/stimuli remain in place. Getting in touch with your body (interoception) and sensing muscular tensions, heart bit, blood pressure, pain, nausea, warmth is key and a multitude of techniques can be applied in the moment: breathing exercises (diaphragmatic, 4-7-8, alternative nostrils, cloud or square , progressive relaxation and body scans (peripheral vision techniques, pelvic floor relaxation), anchoring (colour, senses), short visualisation (safe place), singing or humming, meditation, movement and exercise, reflective practices, mindfulness (eating, walking).

Ultimately, the aim is to follow a life of happiness and wellbeing where resilience competences are aligned to a PERMA model (Positive Emotion, Engagement, Relationships, Meaning, and Accomplishments)

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Camelia Krupp

Master Certified Coach & Therapist

Building future globally! I am fascinated by human beings and their psychology and dedicate my life to bettering their capabilities and those of the organizations they are in. The first step starts with you and if I can support and empower you to take one step further in your growth, then my mission as a coach is fulfilled. Building self every day is the single meaning of life!

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