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Getting Through Tough Times by Building Mental Resilience

Rear view of a male hiker standing and looking at mountains
Tommaso Fabris / EyeEm/Getty Images

Health crises, natural disasters, emotional trauma and, yes, a global pandemic — it takes mental resilience to rebound from this kind of upheaval.

Mental health therapist Rachel Noble, Washington D.C.-based therapist, says resilience means having the mental flexibility to respond and adapt to adversity.

It’s both something you develop throughout your lifetime and a skill you can learn. With resilience, says Noble, “you don’t stay stuck. You don’t get in these ruminating thoughts, in these negative loops.” Resilience is such an important part of life because it helps us be that person we want to be, she adds.

Many older adults, who have lived through difficult times, have built up mental resilience. During the COVID-19 pandemic, for example, surveys found that those ages 65 and older reported less anxiety and depression than those ages 18 to 24.

Still, learning ways to change your attitude and thought patterns may help you become more resilient. That doesn’t mean you won’t or shouldn’t experience grief or sadness. It means you have the skills and mindset to keep yourself from overthinking your situation or feeling stuck in the past. Enhancing your resilience allows you to adapt and move forward, feeling more focused and hopeful.

Staying Sharp’s Building Resilience Challenge offers practical techniques and tips on building resilience in the face of life stressors, both small and large. The skills you’ll explore are aimed at helping you deal with these problems and come out the other side wiser and stronger.

This content is provided for informational purposes only and is not intended to provide any expert, professional or specialty advice or recommendations. Readers are urged to consult with their medical providers for all questions.

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