It might be a common phenomenon that when we get a small cut on our hand we immediately tend to it by applying an antiseptic ointment or putting a band-aid. But when we are feeling low, anxious or upset how often do we address the issues? I would say rarely. Like for any other cut or bruise in our body, we immediately tend to it. It’s also important to look into our mental health not only when a problem surfaces but also to prevent it, just like how vaccines work.
Building resilience is a psychological vaccine that ensures positive mental health. Let’s try and understand what resilience means. Resilience is the ability to adapt to potential adverse situations in life such as relationship difficulties, workplace stress etc. It is commonly referred to as the ability to “bounce back”. Many people think that Resilience is like a protective bubble where individuals will not experience stress or emotional difficulty. To the contrary, it is the weapon with which one can effectively cope with adversity.
So how can one become more resilient? Many times we tend to “make a mountain out of a molehill” which means that sometimes we have a tendency to view a difficult situation more stressful than it is in reality. So the first step towards building resilience is to accept that life will throw challenges at you but ‘this too shall pass’. Then approaching rather than avoiding the stressor, chalking out small goals and deciding the best way to reach the solution to the problem is often helpful. Working on one’s strengths and self-discovery are other ways of building resilience.
Now, if we think about physical illnesses a person can fall sick despite getting the vaccines. Like physical illnesses, mental illnesses also have certain soft signs. These could be social withdrawal, lack of interest and involvement, anger outburst, changes in sleep and appetite, increased physical complaints and impulsive behaviour. In children, delayed developmental milestones, repetitive behaviours, excessive bedwetting and deficits in social interaction patterns are things to look out for. Identifying these soft signs is another crucial aspect as recovery from them becomes much easier if addressed right at the onset.
Along with building resilience, early detection of these soft signs can serve as a powerful means of nipping mental health problems at the bud and ensure early intervention which would pave its way to better treatment outcome. As rightly stated by Bob Marley in his ‘redemption song’-
“Emancipate yourselves from mental slavery
None but ourselves can free our mind.”