According to the World Health Organization, there has been a 13% rise in mental health conditions in the last decade. In fact, the National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI) reported that approximately 1 in 5 U.S. adults experience mental illness. Why is mental illness skyrocketing, despite the access to resources that modern society provides us? We have the luxury to talk to family and friends across the world on a video device in the palm of our hands. We can order food and have it delivered straight to our door. We have cars that can drive and park themselves. Medical advances continue at remarkable rates. Life, in many ways, is exponentially easier than it was in the past. We live with daily conveniences that our ancestors only dreamed of. And yet, anxiety and depression continue to remain, and grow, as prevalent fixtures in out society.
Our access to an abundance of resources creates the illusion of control. We may feel a sense of comfort and stability with this perceived sense of control. In reality, this illusion sets us up for disappointment, as we constantly try, unsuccessfully, to fully remove any prospect for pain, loss, or failure. As discussed in my previous blog, a lack of complete control is a normal, albeit frustrating, part of the human experience. In fact, the idea that we cannot control all of our experiences is one of the core principles of Acceptance and Commitment Therapy.
Given that mental health prevalence rates are skyrocketing, and full control or not something that is attainable, we ought to think about what we can do to foster resilience. In order to effectively promote resilience, we must understand what resilience actually is. Resilience is often defined as, “The ability to overcome the difficulties experienced in the different areas of one’s life with perseverance.” Keeping this definition in mind, the goal is not to avoid or prevent difficulties, rather, to overcome the difficulties that we inevitably experience.
Below are a few tools that have been found to be effective in promoting resilience:
Make meaningful connections. Whether it be with friends, family members, classmates, or colleagues, we are constantly interacting with others whom we can connect with.
Seek support from loved ones. There is a major misconception that asking for help is a sign of weakness. In reality, asking for help when you need it is a sign of strength.
Commit to doing what matters to you. Everyone has a unique set of values, such as adventure, creativity, and spirituality. Consistently engage in activities that are consistent with your values.
Take care of yourself. This may be in the form of exercising or getting enough sleep to ensure your physical health, or taking up a new interesting hobby.
Savor positive emotional experiences. Have a conscious awareness of, and deliberately draw attention to, your pleasant emotional experiences and maintain and extend them by communicating about the event (celebrating) with others.