The maintenance of our health and well-being flows easier and more natural if we can rely on a sturdy resilience.
The Illness Wellness Continuum promotes the understanding of the two-way flow between disease and health where preventive actions can regain and improve well-being.
Health is defined as a state of complete physical, mental and social well-being. It may also be defined as the ability to adapt and manage physical, mental and social challenges throughout life.
Disease are often construed as medical disturbed emotional, mental or physical conditions that are associated with specific symptoms and signs.
It is important to acknowledge that each one of us should take
responsibility to protect, feed and nurture our own physical body and seek help around mental and emotional support if we do not cope on our own.
We need to be active in building and maintaining our resilience, even if active means reaching out for support.
We are physical, mental, emotional and spiritual beings.
All of these aspects of us influence each other, because of an interconnected and interdependent functional reliance. We are also influenced by our environment, our nutrition, movement and social connections.
By definition resilience is the ability to recover quickly from change, difficulties, an emotional crisis, psychological challenges or physical illness.
We are resilient when the body can fight of disease and easily return to a state of wellness. It is also essential that we can mentally and emotionally cope with life’s stressors by having the skills and mental potential to ward off a situation that can cause chronic stress, that can allow the development of harmful health consequences.
Resilience has many health benefits;
- It supports you to handle stress well in difficult situations. Lower stress is associated with improved physical health.
- It adds to a general sense of control and a more positive outlook on life.
- It is associated with longevity, lower rates of despair, anxiety and depression and more enjoyment of life.
- It allows productivity and general wellbeing.
The first 1000 days after conception are very important. Creating resilience starts in the womb. The external environmental challenges, nutritional status, microbiome of the mother and emotional well-being and health of the mom provides a strong foundation for the developing baby.
The natural birthing process and breastfeeding supports the baby’s microbiome, immune system development, bonding, and emotional and mental well-being.
Depression and anxiety in the pregnant woman, as well as postnatal depression, will impact the emotional and physical development of the baby.
Adverse psycho-social elements like adoption, institutionalization, emotional neglect, death of a parent or childhood abuse will add to stress and break down resilience.
Healthy brain or neuro-development is often disrupted or impaired by a prolonged pathological stress response. This can have lifelong implications for learning, behaviour, health issues and lead to impaired adult functioning.
A resilient child develops to become a resilient adult.
Not everyone has the privilege of being born with a positive edge on resilience. All things are however modifiable and we can encourage plasticity to improve resilience. No matter the age, we can continue to encourage improved physical, physiologic, emotional, cognitive, and social functions.
Stress takes a physical and emotional toll on the body and reduces resilience. By boosting your overall health, you will have more strength to take on stressful situations when they come along. Three ways to do that are doing regular exercise, eating right and getting enough quality sleep.
Aerobic exercise helps counter stress by boosting the body’s natural “feel-good” chemicals, using up stress hormones, protecting brain cells, and lowering blood pressure. When you start to feel stressed, go for a brisk walk outside or on a treadmill. Even better, aim for 150 minutes per week of moderate-intensity activity.
A diet consisting of healthy whole foods provides important nutrients to support the body and may also fight anxiety and depression compared to diets filled with sugary, processed or fried foods.
Being sleep deprived can reduce immune function and lead to difficulties with memory, attention, decision making, and learning new information.
We are able to better cope with stress when we are rested. Aim for seven to eight hours of sleep per night..
Chronic stress is associated with harmful health consequences such as high blood pressure, a weakened immune system, anxiety, depression, insomnia, heartburn, indigestion and heart disease. Disease, disability and social problems can cause chronic stress in the absence of resilience and poor social support systems.
We can develop physical resilience by attending to early life adversities, remove toxins from our internal and external environment, eating healthy wholesome food (such as a rainbow of fruits and vegetables, olive oil, nuts, and clean animal products), drinking clean water, exercise regular, enjoying enough sunlight exposure and attend to our sleep pattern.
Our mental and emotional resilience will improve if we are part a community, experience the safety of belonging and having the support of healthy relationships. We do not need to wait for other people to reach out to us. We can ourselves daily improve our situation by joining community activities, reaching out to other people, seeking to improve other people’s lives, monitor our thoughts and being thankful and appreciative for what we do have.
- Find purpose and meaning, do what makes you happy, cultivate self-awareness, nurture a positive view of yourself and do not blame yourself.
- Put things in perspective, accept that change is a part of living, practice your attitude and see problems as short term.
- Seek counseling, add journaling and mindfulness meditation, use relaxation methods and breathing techniques to reduce stress and improve well-being.
- Improve daily experiences by adding colour, music, movement and being in nature, to improve the stimulation of positive senses.
In the article Ramp up your resilience, from Harvard Medical
University, various suggestions are discussed to improve
bouncing back from stress and increase resilience.
Important suggestions around re-framing your situation, leaning on your social network, cultivating positive thinking, the support to laugh more and choose to be optimistic are discussed.
A discussion on the Harvard Medical University site states; Psychological Resilience is the ability to bounce back from stress or adversity. This is important throughout life, especially in our older years. That’s when we face many transitions, such as health problems; job, income, and home changes; the loss of loved ones; and isolation or separation from friends, grown children, and grandchildren.
How we adjust to these changes helps determine what life will look like moving forward.
For additional information on the topics discussed you can read the following material:
- Ramp up your resilience! Being resilient is a skill you can learn and sharpen, and it's never too late to give it a try. Published: November, 2017
- Strengthening Resilience: a priority shared by Health 2020 and the Sustainable Development Goals
- Well-being and resilience | Understanding well-being and resilience
- The road to resilience - American Psychological Association
- Resilience: Physical Health Benefits
- 23 Resilience Building Tools and Excercises
- 3 Exercises That Build Mental Strength in Just 5 Minutes
- 7 Ways to build your Mental Resilience
- Ten habits that build mental resilience
- How to become mentally strong;14 Strategies for Building Resilience
- Five Science-Backed Strategies to Build Resilience
- 10 Traits of Emotionally Resilient People
- Annual Review of Public Health Vol. 36:361-374 (Volume publication date March 2015)