Teen Breathe

Why developing greater resilience can help change your outlook on life

Whether your exam result was a grade lower than expected, you didn’t get a part in the school play or you missed a friend’s birthday party because of a cold, setbacks are an inevitable part of life. This is why resilience is important. Resilience is the ability to persevere despite challenges, developing a mindset that reframes difficult situations as learning opportunities. Read on to find out how you can increase your resilience, no matter what life throws at you.
WORDS: Heather Casey Leigh
ILLUSTRATION: Alessandra De Cristofaro

What is resilience?

Suzy Greenwood, co-founder of UK-based wellbeing programme Vitality Works, defines it as ‘the ability to bounce back’.

‘There isn’t just one thing that enables us to become resilient,’ says Suzy, ‘there’s a variety of different techniques that support wellbeing, and different practices will work best for different people.’ Because of this, self-reflection is key to discovering what works well for you, through a process of trial and error.

To get started, Suzy suggests following the 10-step resilience programme, developed by Vitality Works. It outlines the fundamental practices that build an ability to bounce back, which together spell out the word ‘resilience’.

With these strategies – and some of your own under your belt – you’ll learn not to fear what might lie ahead and instead look forward to learning from the challenges that life brings.

Why seeking help and prioritising self-care are essential for developing greater resilience

Step 1. Reach out for help: It can be seen as a sign of weakness but that’s far from the case – asking for help requires courage. Voicing your needs is the first step to receiving support.

Step 2. Express yourself: The urge to fit in can feel overwhelming, but expressing your true self allows you to live a life of integrity and authenticity. Wear what you want, listen to music that you like and pursue your passions with pride.

Step 3. Self-care and sleep: Whether you prefer journaling, bubble baths or relaxing with friends, make sure to prioritise your wellbeing. And don’t underestimate the power of a good night’s sleep to transform your mood.

Step 4. Inner champion: You’ve heard of the inner critic, but now it’s time to introduce your inner cheerleader. If you feel down, listen in to that encouraging internal voice.

Step 5. Limits and boundaries: Limiting screen time or declining social invitations that don’t appeal are both ways of setting healthy boundaries.

Why self-understanding and openness are necessary to build your resilience

Step 6. Internal enquiry and intuition: Become aware of your thoughts and feelings (don’t judge them) and allow your gut feelings to guide you. Meditation can help with this.

Step 7. Empathy and self-compassion: Cultivate self-love by treating yourself with the same care you offer to family and friends. Repeat affirmations to yourself, such as: ‘I love and accept myself unconditionally’ and ‘I’m doing my best and that’s enough’.

Step 8. Nature: Getting outdoors can energise your body, restore inner peace and create a sense of belonging. Be present and tune into your senses.

Step 9. Courage and vulnerability: One way to practise these is in conversation. Next time someone asks, ‘How are you?’, instead of replying ‘Fine, thanks’, reflect on how you’re truly feeling and consider sharing this. It can create more meaningful connections.

Step 10. Evolve: If you feel scared before a presentation, nervous to join a sports club or intimidated by the idea of moving schools, remember that challenges expand your comfort zone. You’re still growing into the fullest version of yourself and mistakes along the way are part of that.

Read more about mental wellbeing in Teen Breathe issue 42.