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How to build mental resilience

Life has a habit of testing our limits - mental resilience is your chance to bounce back.

Resilience has become a bit of a buzzword, but it’s something we should all know more about in order to protect and improve our mental health.

Mental resilience is your ability to bounce back after experiencing tough times. Unfortunately, bad things happen in life and things don’t always go the way you had hoped they would. Having good mental resilience not only helps you to get through these tough times, you may also become a stronger person for it.

So how can you become more mentally resilient? Here are some simple tips from the Black Dog Institute, a not-for-profit organisation dedicated to improving the lives of people affected by poor mental health.

1. Stay connected

Humans are social beings. Surrounding yourself with friends and family can act like a safety net when you’re feeling down.

If you’re not close with your family, or they’re not physically close by, find a group of people you like hanging out with. Join a club or simply make it a point to have a regular chat with your neighbours.

2. Find what you love

It’s not just people you should connect with. Getting absorbed in a pleasurable activity encourages you to focus less on the negative and enjoy the present. It’s also important to identify what gives your life meaning, whether that is spiritual beliefs, career or hobby. Prioritising the things that make you feel good about yourself can have a strong protective effect and make the world seem like a much better place.

“Getting absorbed in a pleasurable activity encourages you to focus less on the negative and enjoy the present.”

3. Let it go

Just like the song says, sometimes you just have to let go of negative thoughts or experiences. Worrying about what might happen doesn’t solve any problems.

Try instead to focus your mind on what achievable actions you could take to make things better. Make a list and tick things off if that helps. Techniques like meditation can calm your mind and give you a break from pesky worries and thoughts.

4. Get some perspective

Ever felt like all the bad things in the world happen to you? Or that you’re in a rut and don’t know how to get out of it? It’s pretty easy to feel like this when things aren’t going your way.

Get into the habit of identifying and tackling these unhelpful thoughts as they arise. This will help you keep a realistic view of the situation and stop these thoughts spiralling into something more serious. Seeing the glass as half full can not only protect you from poor mental health, it can actually help you live a better life.

5. Take care of yourself

To look after your mind, you also need to look after your body. Eat a healthy, balanced diet. Get out for a brisk walk every day and not only will your physical fitness improve, it will also help you generate mood-boosting vitamin D. Finally, avoid using substances like alcohol or drugs to make you feel better.

It’s important to note that staying mentally healthy isn’t always achievable on your own. If you feel distressed and out of your depth, it is always a good idea to talk about it with a GP or qualified mental health professional.

Learn more from the Black Dog Institute.

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