Resilience can be learned!
I get the impression that we are becoming less and less resilient as a society. I suspect that the pandemic is also having a great effect on our resilience. This decrease in resilience is quite worrisome because it is precisely during a crisis that we need resilience. If the crisis makes us less resilient, it is important to understand how you can (re)develop your resilience. With knowledge of the brain, it is perfectly possible.
What is resilience?
Resilience is the ability to adequately deal with setbacks, stress, drastic events, et cetera. In Dutch, we call resilience the strength of a spring. You can pull it out and flatten it when you think of spring. The resilience remains. So it is with our human strength. This human strength continues to exist. It may very well be that you recognize your strength less during these situations, but you may trust that your personal strength does continue to exist.
Research on resilience
In a nutshell, resilience means the ability your brain to deal with stress. According to Nestler’s research, dealing with stress and resilience is all about neuroplasticity. He researches resilience in mice. He says, “The most important and interesting principle is that resilience is not a passive process. It’s not that the resilient mice just don’t show the bad effects of stress that are observed in susceptible mice. Some of those kinds of changes are seen, but by far the most predominant phenomenon is that the resilient mice show a whole series of additional changes that help the animal cope with stress.”
So you can learn resilience. This view I also experience daily in my work as an entrepreneur and my own life.
What does resilience look like in your brain?
The amount of activation in the left prefrontal area of a resilient person can be thirty times greater than in someone who is not resilient. In other words, your prefrontal cortex is super important for being resilient. Much energy will go into survival during stress so that less energy can go into that prefrontal cortex. However, if you pay attention to a vital cortex, you can be more resilient.
In addition to an active and fit prefrontal cortex, it also appears that a strong connection between the limbic system and the prefrontal cortex contributes to strong resilience. It also makes sense because the faster the neural highway is, the faster you can also perceive how stressed you are.
Some tips for building resilience
- Make sure you have a fit prefrontal cortex
- Learn stress coping strategies
- Make sure you have enough social contacts
- Accept that crises are part of life
- Learn the mindset switch
- Write things down
You can make resilience your own. In short, you can do this by taking good care of yourself.