Resilience allows a tree to bend in the wind instead of breaking. It’s what an athlete cultivates in order to recover quickly after a hard workout, or an entrepreneur draws on to come back stronger and wiser after a major downturn. Resilience turns problems that could otherwise take you out into an experience of growth. And you can develop a greater resilience against stress.
The American Psychological Association’s Stress in America 2021 report highlighted how important resilience is in how we handle stress. 94% of people who scored low in resilience experienced marked negative impacts of stress in the past month, while only 38% of those who scored high in resilience had felt such negative impact.
You can become a person of greater resilience. You can retrain your brain so that anxiety, fear, and stress are not in the driver’s seat. Here are three of the many elements Scripture makes clear and science now proves are helpful in developing resilience against stress.
Keep Taking In Nourishment
Like physical food, your soul needs nourishment every day. When your soul is already empty another stress feels like it will overwhelm you. When your soul is full the drain may be real, but it doesn’t feel as overwhelming. You’ve got some internal reserves to deal with the stress.
I learned this after my husband passed away a few years ago. The pain and sadness were all too real and sometimes felt endless. But that grief journey didn’t take me out. I had the internal resources to do the grief work, connect with God and others in the process, and incorporate that experience into the mature whole person I am today.
Those internal reserves come from a regular rhythm of feeding yourself. What kind of nourishment you need will vary depending on your personality and your season of life, but it includes things like connecting with God and others, positive uplifting media (books, podcasts, online resources, etc.), experiences of fun, time taking in the beauty of nature, music, or art, etc.
What kind of soul nourishment do you need most right now? Keeping your soul filled up will make you much more resilient when new stresses come.
First responders or soldiers in battle aren’t sent out alone. God designed our human systems to be stronger together. The feeling of being alone has exacerbated the stress of the COVID-19 pandemic for many people over the past two years. And when new stresses come–and they will come–connection will play a big role in how you come through.
I don’t naturally connect easily with others. I have to be intentional to “reach out and touch someone.” It’s one of the most important places to exert the energy you have both when times are good and when you feel stressed. The sense that someone sees you and understands even some of what you’re going through greatly lessens the overwhelm stress can bring.
This is also one of the biggest ways in which a relationship with God is helpful. A secure attachment to God markedly improves your mental health. If you don’t have that kind of experience with God, it’s worth the effort to “find a new God” if you need to. He’s patient. And when you do feel felt by God it actually changes the nerve connections in your brain.
Who are you connected with? And what is your connection with God like?
Remember How You Survived Hard Things
You have survived 100% of your worst days.
You may have some scars. And you may need some further healing. But you’re here! That says something. The sense of having come through something hard provides you a wonderful sense of agency. Whatever was required to get through, you did it!
And you’ve learned some things along the way, things about yourself, others, God, the world. Some of those things will stand you in good stead in the future when you face other hard things. It goes into your resilience bank, so to speak. And your emotional wellness “muscles” have become stronger.
Some of the things you learned may not be 100% accurate; you may need to reassess and relearn if you picked up some beliefs that are unhealthy or unwise, but you can do that. And that very process adds to your resilience. You learn that you can grow.
Studies of former prisoners of war sheds some fascinating light on post-traumatic growth. You don’t go looking for trauma. But when stress feels even overwhelming, the process of going through it can bring resilience for the future if you let it.
What hard things have you come through? What helped you do so?
Growing in Resilience
Those are just a few of the ways you can grow in resilience. You don’t have to let stress control you. You can retrain your brain to embrace peace, leave worry behind, and experience emotional wellbeing that lasts even through hard times that are certain to come in the future.
This is just a sample of the keys I’ve learned about overcoming anxiety in my own life. And I’m sharing these keys with you right now in our new Defeat Your Fear and Anxiety online course. These are ways I learned to retrain my brain as God brought me out of my severe distress years ago. They’ve stayed with me ever since. And now we have scientific evidence to show how these keys change the neural networks in your brain to help you live a resilient life of joy, hope, and peace.
I hope you’ll join me in the Defeat Your Fear and Anxiety course today! And if you do so now, I’ll walk through this material with you over the next few weeks in weekly live group Zoom calls.
If you’re feeling anxious now, this will help you get off the worry treadmill. And if you’re not, this will help you develop more resilience so that next time you encounter stress you’ll stay better on track. Join me and learn the keys to Retrain Your Brain and Defeat Fear and Anxiety!
Questions? Contact me here, and I’ll respond personally.
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