Resilience is fundamentally important to age well. We all have events in our lives we can’t control. What you “can” control is how you “react” to negative circumstances. A resilient person responds to emotional challenges by facing them, working through them, then finds a way to bounce back and move forward.
A Harvard study spanning over 70 years found that the way we respond to and overcome adversity and trouble is even a more important deterrent of healthy aging than the actual number and type of negative events experienced. “Wisdom comes with age” is a saying that proves to be true. As we age we experience more situations and learn how they affect us and how to deal with them. My grandchildren always ask how I got so smart. I just ask them if they are smarter now than 5 years ago. Then I tell them to just think about how much more knowledge and experience they will have in 60 more years. Life lessons can sometimes be cruel and it’s unfortunate that we tend to remember the negative ones more than the positive ones. If we LEARN from the negatives then they will no longer be all negative because a lesson is learned.
Up to 50% of seniors with chronic pain also suffer from depression. Research also found that those with resilient personalities had less pain and depression. They were also more active which gave them a better quality of life.
Everyone’s resilience level is different. We all have some innate resilience that we develop through our life experiences. If you feel that every setback leaves you worse than the last, you need to build up your resilience.
A first step to help you build your personal resilience is to look at your physical health. Eating well, exercise, and the proper amount of good sleep is where to start. Resilient people also have solid social networks. Interaction with others decreases your risk of becoming physically ill and cognitively impaired.
The bottom line is that it is important to take an inventory of your life and determine what situations or events cause you stress. Then measure how much stress affects your mental health. Then you need to try to put things in perspective and keep a positive attitude during setbacks and disappointments. If you can’t get to an emotionally better place you may need to seek professional help. It is sometimes difficult to see your own situation objectively.
There is an ancient message “heal thyself”. Building your resilience is well worth the effort. Just always remember you CAN bounce back from life’s difficulties, challenges, setbacks, and disappointments.