What is Resilience?
Resilience is the power to bounce back, whatever life throws at you. But the line between adversity and everyday living has become blurred. More and more we are being asked “what is resilience”, “can you define resilience for me?” “What is the meaning of resilience?” “How can I make my family more resilient?”
There are specific actions that you can do to start building resilience, but It is not going to happen overnight. Its like getting physically fit, you have to do something every day to build the resilience muscles.
There is no quick fix, but building certain activities into your day to day life will soon become a habit and over time you will see the effects when stresses or adversary turns up (as it will certainly do at some time in the future). Obviously there are clear indicators when it comes to high trauma, unexpected loss of a child or parent, disasters such as earthquakes and flooding, acrimonious divorces or major financial loss.
However, in the 21st Century there are adverse conditions every day coming from pressures at school, work, family relationships or lifestyle. One thing is certain, the pace of change and the takeover of our lives by technology is not making any of our lives any calmer or easier and it is likely to continue to accelerate.
Statistics are frightening for young families
Mental health statistics have reached crisis levels and are continuing to rise: In our children:
- Only 40% of children now have good resilience
- This drops to 27% in school years 10 – 12
- 3 per class have poor mental health
- 25% have suicidal thoughts (75% of which are boys)
- 1 in 6 experience anxiety
- Depression increased by 70% in the last 25 years
- 1 in 5 are bullied
- Drugs, teen drinking, sexual activity are continuing to rise.
- 4 million Britons (1 in 9) are experiencing high to very high levels of distress at any one time.
- Twice as many women as men are diagnosed with anxiety disorders
- 70 million work days in the UK are lost due to anxiety, stress or depression
- 78% of suicides are men or young people over 15 – 25
- Only 5.5% of medical research funding goes to mental health
- Mental health problems constitute the largest single source of world economic burden with an estimated global cost of £1.6 trillion.
How to create resilience in your family
Here are the four actions you can start to take immediately to build resilience in your family:
- Provide a strong, non-judgemental and emotionally present connection to adults who are both competent and caring.
- Support for the development of social and emotional skills as well as some form of spiritual belief.
- Motivate them to master who they are, their environment, and identify the things that naturally interest them.
- Provide opportunities to develop autonomy, and learn from challenge, be accountable for their own decisions and destiny.
Relationships are the centrepiece of resilience. Whether these are positive or negative will show up in how your children cope with change stress & adversity. As caregivers, we need to stop the ‘helicopter’ parenting – that is getting too involved, hovering and not letting them experience a whole range of emotions. Trying to take the pain away is doing them a disservice as they are not learning how to cope in times of adversity. What children need is loving support and guidance, NOT avoidance when life gets tough. Stress doesn’t make them more resilience it is how they are taught to cope and get through it that will.