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BE: The Resilience Factor

​​Resilience is one of those words we hear a lot about lately, but what is it? Resilience is the capacity for an individual to tolerate stress and trauma. It can also help them overcome difficult situations or even a catastrophe. Resilience develops as people grow and gain better thinking and self-management skills. It also comes from having supportive relationships and healthy coping skills, all of which can help manage the inevitable bumps in life. Some people seem more naturally resilient than others, but the great thing about resilience is that it can be learned and strengthened at any time in your life.

Several factors are associated with resilience and they can be found in your behaviors, your thinking patterns, and the things you do. How do you know if you’re resilient? When something goes wrong, do you tend to bounce back or fall apart?

If you bounce back, you are resilient. Individuals with resilience tend to recover more quickly from obstacles or challenges, whether it's having a rough day at work, an illness, or even the death of a loved one. Resilient people tend to experience less stress and have better physical and emotional health. Resilience protects your health in two ways:

  • It changes how you view stress
  • It activates good coping strategies

Another thing that resilient people do is view stressful events as opportunities for personal growth. Research has shown that resilient individuals are active and goal-oriented, and they approach life with enthusiasm. They see themselves as actively shaping the direction of their lives, not as victims passively accepting whatever life hands them.

If you tend to fall apart when things go wrong, you may need to work on your resilience. People who are less resilient tend to overthink situations, feel troubled, experience burnout, or cope in unhealthy ways, such as drinking heavily or abusing other substances. People with less resilience may also be more likely to develop mental health problems. Resilience can protect you from developing depression, anxiety, or post-traumatic stress disorder. Actively working to promote your mental well-being is just as important as protecting yourself from such physical conditions as heart disease and diabetes.

The good news is that there’s a lot you can do to increase resilience. Three factors that build resilience include:

  • Commitment
  • Control
  • Challenge

Commitment is about getting involved in your life, including work, family, and self. People who are committed feel a sense of purpose that carries over into their daily activities and relationships. It helps them find everyday life satisfying and meaningful. Committed people don’t easily buckle under pressure. Here are a few tips to help build your resilience by improving your commitment:

  • Be connected. Build strong, positive relationships with people in your life who can listen to your worries and provide support. Volunteer or get involved in your community – it’s a great way to meet new people and feel a sense of accomplishment.
  • Achieve goals. Do something every day that gives you a sense of achievement. Even small goals are important like taking your dog for a walk or cleaning out your inbox at work.

Control is defined as believing you have influence over your life and you’re capable of bringing about change. Control is the opposite of being passive or helpless. Resilient people believe they have the imagination, knowledge, skills, and resources to make change when they need to.

Control also helps you avoid burnout by increasing your belief that your own actions can affect events in your life. Individuals with high control have different strategies for managing (controlling) their stress. This means they can choose the best one for dealing with any given stressful circumstance. Here’s how you can improve your control:

  • Take charge. Instead of wishing your problems would go away or ignoring them, take action. Figure out what needs to be done, make a plan, and then do it.
  • Be good to yourself. Taking care of yourself physically and emotionally means you are taking control of your well-being. It also helps you build the mental and physical energy you need to manage stressful situations, which can be draining. Take care of yourself by participating in activities and hobbies you enjoy, exercising regularly, getting plenty of sleep, and eating well.

Challenge is the belief that change is normal, not the exception. People with high challenge levels find change exciting, not threatening. Their attitude toward life is, “bring it on!” By labeling situations as “challenging” rather than stressful, individuals high in this factor strive to grow when life demands change. Also know when to let go instead of holding on tightly to old ways of doing things. If you want to build your challenge factor, try these tips:

  • Be flexible. Don’t be so rigid that even minor changes upset you. Knowing that change is part of life and expecting it to happen makes it easier to adjust and cope when faced with uncertainty – you might even learn to appreciate opportunities for change.
  • Remain positive. When faced with a challenge or obstacle, look for the silver lining. Even though it’s not always easy to see, there is usually something good in every situation. Every day, write down something that changed for the better. Teach yourself to expect change to be good.

Whether you work on building one or all of these factors, practicing these tips will help you become more resilient. The great thing about resilience is that it’s not something you have to be born with – you can work to build it, make it stronger, and maintain it any time in your life.

Resilience can reduce your risk of developing a psychological injury or illness. It can also help you get more out of life by helping you bounce back from difficult times and grow in the face of challenges.

If you need support to build your resilience and cope better with stress, TRICARE beneficiaries can easily access mental health services.

Active duty service members should always seek nonemergency mental health care from their military hospital or clinic when available or get a referral from their primary care provider.

All other TRICARE beneficiaries may receive their first eight outpatient mental health care visits without a referral or prior authorization.

To learn more about your mental health care benefits, visit or contact United Healthcare Military & Veterans, the TRICARE regional contractor in Southern California, at​​​


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