Resilience is a Virtue: The Science of Pushing Your Limits
Mar 31, 2023 By Lael Miller
From intense workouts to hot sauna sessions to cold water plunges, many people enjoy pushing their minds and bodies to the limits. These pushes can help you build resilience and be prepared to overcome life’s challenges. Read on to learn about the science of resilience.
What Is Resilience?
Resilience is the ability to successfully adapt to challenging situations. People who are resilient are flexible—mentally, emotionally, and behaviorally—and can work through whatever life throws their way.
While it may come naturally to some people, resilience isn’t an innate character trait that you either have or don’t have. Resilience is a skill set that can be trained. Just as you can exercise your muscles and get stronger, you can exercise your resilience and become more adaptable.
Stoicism: A Time-tested Philosophy
The concept of resilience as a virtue isn’t new. It comes from Stoicism, a philosophy that originated around 300 B.C. and flourished in Ancient Greece and Rome. As a practical philosophy, it was meant to help people live better, more virtuous lives.
The Stoics philosophized that adversity and challenges helped bring meaning to life and that people can overcome life’s challenges by changing their mindset and developing mental fortitude. The Ancient Greek philosopher Epictetus wrote that “every difficulty in life presents us with an opportunity to turn inward and to invoke our own inner resources.”
This isn’t just ancient history: Stoicism is still widely used today. The philosophy helped inspire some modern mental health therapies. Stoicism experienced a resurgence in recent years as people searched for ways to cope with uncertainties. During the COVID-19 pandemic, print sales of ancient Stoic texts skyrocketed, and modern Stoics helped spread the philosophy on podcasts and social media.
Resilience Benefits for the Mind and Body
People who take steps to increase their resilience can enjoy a number of mental and physical health benefits, according to recent research. Here are just a few of the potential benefits of having greater resilience.
It’s Associated With Better Mental Health
Many studies have reported that resilience helps people maintain a state of good mental health. In a French study, participants with higher levels of resilience reported lower levels of anxiety and depression after being exposed to vicarious trauma, such as a terrorist attack. A recent Thai study found that high-resilient copers were less likely to have mental health adversities during the first wave of the COVID-19 pandemic than low-resilient copers.
It Helps You Manage Stress
Developing resilience could help you cope with stress and adversity. A survey of 1,954 corporate executives found a strong link between participants’ resilience and perceived stress levels: The executives with higher resilience had lower levels of stress than their counterparts with medium or lower resilience. This is significant because chronic stress has been linked to a long list of health issues, including heart disease, difficulty sleeping, and digestive problems.
It May Help You Live Longer
Resiliency is associated with longevity. A recent analysis of data from the Chinese Longitudinal Healthy Longevity Survey found that centenarians (people ages 100 and older) had significantly more resilience than other older adults. The analysis found that 94 to 98-year-olds with higher resilience had a 43.1% higher chance of reaching age 100 than similarly aged people with low resilience.
How to Become More Resilient
It’s possible to train your resilience and improve your ability to adapt to challenging situations. Here are some simple tips for boosting your resilience.
Strengthen Your Support Network
Empathetic friends and family members can help you work through difficult situations and come out stronger on the other side. To keep these relationships strong, prioritize spending time with the people you care about, even when you’re busy with work or other commitments. Focus on finding additional sources of support. You might choose to join a club or group or ask friends to introduce you to others.
Take Care of Your Health
Maintaining healthy lifestyle habits isn’t just good for your physical health; it can support good mental health and promote resilience. Take care of your body by getting regular exercise, eating a nutritious diet, and prioritizing sleep. Avoid turning to alcohol or other substances to cope with stress; this might help you feel better in the short term, but it doesn’t help build resilience.
Get Out of Your Comfort Zone
The Ancient Roman philosopher Seneca wrote, “no man is more unhappy than he whonever faces adversity, for he is not permitted to prove himself.” Putting yourself in challenging situations could help give you the confidence to tackle whatever obstacles come your way. Try something new and work to become more comfortable with being uncomfortable.
Build Your Resilience With a Cold Plunge
Getting out of your comfort zone can help you experience resilience benefits. What better way to challenge yourself than with a cold plunge? Submerging your body in cold water takes courage, and the practice helps build mental resilience that you can carry to other aspects of your life. Resilience training is just one of the many benefits of ice baths. Check out our guide to the science behind cold therapy and learn how it can improve your life.
The Invitation to Adventure
We are inviting you on an extraordinary adventure to explore the depths of your potential and experience the incredible results Ice Barrel will produce in your life. Not just for you, but for the ones you love most and the things you are most passionate about.
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