Many of us are familiar with the term resilience, and the idea that when things go badly there are times when we cope well, and times when we don’t. With the disruption caused by COVID-19, many of us have had to revaluate our resilience in the face of changing structures and routines. We spoke with Matthew Iasiello (BHlthSc (Hons)), researcher at the Wellbeing and Resilience Centre at SAHMRI about what resilience is, and what we can do to improve it.
Matthew says we should picture resilience as a set of scales, with challenges on the one side, and our coping resources on the other.
“People’s resources vary,” Matthew advises. “Your resources might be the people around you, your own skills, your financial standing, even the neighbourhood you live in. Your perception of the challenge is also something which changes. When we have an abundance of coping resources, the challenge may not feel immense, but sometimes when our resources are running low, even small challenges seem much harder to overcome.”
Matthew reports that people’s mental health and mental wellbeing may be suffering as a result of the global pandemic.
“Uncertainty can have a negative effect on people’s mental wellbeing,” Matthew states. “Health concerns, possible unemployment, and just not knowing what will happen next has certainly resulted in people feeling a loss of control. Loneliness and disruption of routines have impacted many of us, and these routines, particularly those involving recreational activities, make up important parts of our coping resources.”
The good news is Matthew says that resilience is definitely something that can be learned.
“It’s about building up those coping resources, and being able to evaluate, and reduce the size of your challenges until you are tipping the scales in your favour,” Matthew states.
Ways to improve your mental wellbeing and resilience include:
“If you can build these activities into your everyday life, then you have a very good chance of improving your resilience and mental wellbeing,” Matthew adds.
There are many tools available online which can help you build resilience and improve your mental wellbeing. These include:
Beyond Blue provides information and support for Australians to help them achieve their best possible mental health. They have many resources and information (including information related to the pandemic) along with online forums where people can connect and find support.
Smiling Mind is one of the world’s leaders in pre-emptive mental health. They promote mindfulness for people of all ages, with a particular focus on young people. Their mission is to provide accessible, life-long tools to support healthy minds.
The Be Well Tracker is an online tool which has been developed by SAHMRI so you can give yourself a mental health check-in. The tool analyses your questionnaire responses and recommends a course of action to strengthen your mental wellbeing – much like an exercise program for the body.
(subject to level of cover and condition requiring treatment)