In his Huffington Post article The Science of Resilience, Professor Steven M. Southwick offers this American Psychological Association
definition of resilience: "the process of adapting well in the face of adversity, trauma, tragedy, threats or even significant sources of threat."
Southwick goes on to inquire why some seem to fare so much better than others under these types of grueling circumstances. After studying a number of groups that had endured extremely stressful situations, Southwick concluded that resilience is far more common than is usually thought. His other good news is that "everyone can learn and train to be more resilient."
Southwick reports that "neurobiological systems associated with resilience can be strengthened to respond more adaptively to stress." This can be accomplished through such practices as cognitive reappraisal training and mindfulness meditation – both of which "increase activation of the left prefrontal cortex." This activation enables people to "recover more rapidly from negative emotions such as anger, disgust, and fear."
In addition, animal studies show that "vigorous voluntary aerobic exercise increases levels of nerve growth factor," which "appears to protect against some of the negative effects of stress."
In his Huffington Post article Resilience, Recovery and Optimism, Clinical Psychologist Tian Dayton reports that "resilience seems to develop out of the challenge to maintain self-esteem." Rather than
presupposing that those with troubled childhoods are condemned to living "damaged" lives, Dayton concludes that "adversity can actually develop strength if we learn to mobilize and make use of the supports that are at our disposal."
Copyright October 6, 2012 by Linda Van Slyke All Rights Reserved