Health & Wellness
As I am sitting to finish this blog post, I do so after packing a bag for a quick overnight trip to Boston. A close friend of mine of 30 years died last week, and his funeral services are in his New England hometown.
My friend was a long-time United States Navy Reserve and major market television news veteran. I believe exposure and stress related to those two professions contributed significantly to mental and behavioral health issues, leading to physical health complications resulting in his early death.
Workplace, family, and societal stressors have been taking their toll on people more than ever. Living through a pandemic, political ugliness, and economic uncertainty hasn't helped. Anxiety, tension, depression, and addiction seem to be affecting people wherever you look.
Thankfully, personal or mental resiliency is a concept that's been getting more and more attention. Resiliency helps people look at life through a lens where they should expect ups and downs and experience setbacks, disappointments, and failures. Resiliency is the ability to bounce back from stressful or traumatic situations by adapting, adjusting, and recovering quickly.
Resiliency, however, is not something most people just have. It requires preparation, work, and maintenance. It needs at least a sliver of a positive attitude, a desire to solve problems, some emotional regulation, and, most importantly, social support. Resilience is critical not only for dealing with significant life events such as losing a job, divorce, or illness but even navigating everyday stressors such as traffic, deadlines, and conflicts.
According to the American Psychological Association (APA), resilience is not something that people are born with. But it can be developed and strengthened over time. And resilience is not a fixed trait; it can fluctuate depending on life circumstances, age, and other factors.
The good news is that nearly everyone can become more resilient with practice, the right mindset, and help from others.
One of the critical components of mental resiliency is having a positive outlook on life. Resilient people focus on strengths and opportunities rather than weaknesses and limitations. They also have a growth mindset, meaning they believe they can improve and develop their skills and abilities over time with effort and practice.
Another essential aspect of resilience is having strong social support. A network of friends, family, or coworkers who can offer emotional support, practical help, or advice can help people cope with stress and overcome challenges. Social support can also provide a sense of belonging, validation, and perspective. These things are critical components of resilience.
In addition to having a positive attitude and social support, resilience involves building coping skills and strategies. Resilient people tend to have effective problem-solving skills, emotional regulation, and self-care practices. They also know how to seek help and manage their stress levels through relaxation, exercise, or other healthy habits.
According to the Mayo Clinic, resilience training can help people develop these skills and increase their mental resiliency. Resilience training can involve various techniques such as cognitive-behavioral therapy, mindfulness, positive psychology, and stress management. These techniques can help people reframe negative thoughts, manage their emotions, and build healthy habits to enhance their resilience.
I don't know if my friend put in the work needed to develop resilience. But I know that circumstances and mental sickness broke him down to an unrecoverable state.
In the last few years, I myself have changed my approach to just about everything in life to focus on resilience - exercise, stress management, and eliminating negative influences. It is making a big difference.
In conclusion, mental resiliency is an essential skill that can help people overcome life's challenges and thrive in a constantly changing world. By cultivating a positive attitude, strong social support, coping skills, and resilience training, anyone can learn to bounce back from setbacks and emerge stronger and more resilient than before. But you need to have the right attitude and approach to it. You need to put in the work. And you need help doing it.
NEP Services is proud to present - "We Need to Talk: A Serious Discussion on Behavioral Health Among Emergency Responders," June 27-28, 2023 in Las Vegas, NV. For more information, visit: www.NEP training.org.
Jim Aleski is a 25-year fire service veteran and career engine company Lieutenant in the Philadelphia metro area. Jim serves as a Branding and Content Specialist at NEP Services and formerly served as the Communications/Social Media Director for the Professional Firefighters Association of New Jersey (PFANJ), the state affiliate of the International Association of Fire Fighters (IAFF). Prior to becoming a career firefighter, Jim responded as a volunteer while working for more than a decade as a media producer. Jim was involved in the production of hundreds of national TV commercials, network branding campaigns, music videos, and corporate communication projects. Jim holds a BS in Mass Communications from Emerson College and earned a MS in Fire and Emergency Management Administration from Oklahoma State University.