Operation Transformation psychologist Dr Eddie Murphy from Laois, on building resilience to cope with times of crisis

Resilience is a skill that all of society needs to learn says Dr Eddie
Following Suicide Awareness Week its timely that we look at ways to ensure that people avoid or overcome crises.

Following Suicide Awareness Week its timely that we look at ways to ensure that people avoid or overcome crises.

We need to develop a society that is resilient, a skill that can be promoted for young, adolescents, adults and our wise seniors who often have it in abundance.

Resilience does not mean that people do not experience difficulty or distress. Emotional pain is common in people who have suffered major trauma. New behaviours, thoughts, and actions can be learned and developed in anyone.

factors in resilience

Studies show that the primary factor is having caring and supportive relationships within and outside the family. These create love and trust, provide role models, and offer encouragement and reassurance.

The capacity to make realistic plans and take steps to carry them out.

A positive view of yourself and confidence in your strengths and abilities.

Skills in communication and problem solving.

The capacity to manage strong feelings and impulses.

how to develop it

Developing resilience is a personal journey. People do not react in the same way to the same stressful events.

Imagine resilience as a muscle – here are some strategies to strengthen it.

Build bounce backability.

Develop a sense of optimism. Can you imagine wearing glasses that actively select optimism? Just as a person has physical fitness, so too there is mental fitness. Train your brain.

Volunteer. Do you have the energy and the heart to help others? There are lots of opportunities. Check www.volunteer.ie, to find an areas that may interest you.

Nourish your Soul. Faith, prayer and spirituality play an incredible role in some people’s emotional life. Research shows that this acts as important stress buffers.

Live a life with meaning and passion. Get beyond yourself: find meaning and passions and fill your life with them. I think of Penny, a woman who experienced depression. Having lost many family members through cancer, she wanted to raise money for hospice services. She has swum, walked, run, climbed mountains and had her hair shaved. Her life is full of meaning and passion, and her depression is now at bay.

Learn to laugh at yourself. Laughing at yourself when you do something foolish can release negative emotions. Humour can help to pull many through the most horrendous traumas.

Find role models. We all need wise people in our lives – people you can look up to and from whom you can get advice. Sometimes you can also pick ‘parts’ of people to emulate – someone’s assertiveness, another’s sensitivity.

Get out of your comfort zone. We need to challenge and to stretch ourselves; otherwise our world only gets smaller. You only live once.

Adopt new approaches to challenges and setbacks. Rather than seeing failure, or stress, ask yourself ‘what is the best thing I can do here? What options have I got? Is there anything I can learn from the situation?

Nurture friendships and relationships. Having a network of friends or family provides us with social support that is incredibly important for both happy occasions and challenging times. It is true a problem shared is a problem halved.

Take control. Nobody is responsible for your life except you. By believing that you have some control, your confidence will shift in the right direction. This means taking control of all parts of your life, particularly your physical and emotional health. Tackle things straight on. Don’t ignore or wish away your problems.