Tag Archives: Resilience

Mental Health and Resilience #Write31Days

31 Days of Mental Health

Welcome to day 14 in the #Write31Days challenge. Today, I am joining in with the 1-word blog challenge hosted by Janine and Lisa. This week’s choice of words are “happy” and “pity”. I choose to write on happiness.

When Martin Seligman became president of the American Psychological Association in 2000, he held a speech advocating for more research into positive psychology. Positive psychology is the field of study that examines why certain people are happy, rather than trying to find out why those with mental health issues are not. Now of course mental illness does not prevent happiness, at least not in people with a positive attitude.

As I’ve said before, mental illness does not discriminiate and can in fact strike the most optimistic people. This being the case, optimistic people probably handle their mental illnesses differently from pessimistic people.

I am currently studying modifiers of people’s reaction to stress in my health psychology course. There are three tersm that essentially describe a person’s tendency towards otpimism: hardiness, coherence and resilience. You have probably heard of resilience, which refers to the way some people bounce back from stress and go on with their lives. Hardiness is essentially the same, while coherence describes a way of looking at the word as something that is understandable and logical. Resilient or hardy people perceive a stressful situation as a challenge rather than a threat.

I did not learn about the efffects of resilience on mental health. However, with regard to physical health, resilient or hardy people tend to get ill less, and when they do, they also adhere to treatment better and recover sooner than those who are less resilient.

People who are resilient, besides bouncing back from stress, also perceive they have some level of control over their health. I did not read this, but it could be they are easier patients in therapy. After all, therapy relies on the principle that patiens have control over their thoughts, emotions and actions.

Can you learn to be resilient? In part, yes. While resilience is a trait that is in part determined by people’s heredity and life experiences, you can still get to a more resilient place. Focusing on the positive is an important step towards developing resilience. Even tiny steps, such as creating gratitude lists, can help.

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#PowerMonday: Pondering Strength

Over at Strength adn Sunshine, Rebecca P. writes power Monday, in which she ponders the nature of strength. She considers herself physically and emotionally strong. I’d like to focus in this post on emotional strength, because I possess little physical strength.

What does it take to be emotionally strong? I’m generally seen as emotionally strong because I’ve been through a lot and made it through. I’m seen as perseverant by some. Others, however, don’t see me as such, because, if I truly were perseverant, I’d have overcome my disabilities and would live independently. Some people see me as someone who gives up particularly soon.

I’d like to think of myself as strong. Then again, aren’t the circumstances I’ve survived merely that, circumstances? In my #AskAwayFriday post last week, I said thaat the greatest challenge I’ve overcome is surviving prematurity. That being said, didn’t the doctors just keep me alive? I can’t know whether I showed any will to survive. Does this assumption that I’m strong for surviving, not condemn the non-survivors for being weak?

I struggle with the idea of emotional strength as a positive attribute, also, because it condemns the mentally ill. We’re not resilient, almost by definition, because we suffer from depression, anxiety or the like. I see people in my institution who are particularly passive or negative. Does this mean they don’t have strength, or does it merely mean they’re suffering from their illness?

There are these sayings going around. “God doesn’t give you more than you can handle.” In this sense, God is seen as the cause of our suffering, and we’re seen as the cause of our overcoming of it. This is probably a way to sustain our sense of self, believing we’re strong for overcoming something that life (or God) put us through. I’m more than happy to believe I’m strong for having survived premature birth, childhood trauma, disability, and other challenges. It allows me to believe in myself.