IBD, Resilience & Mental Health

What Is Resilience and Why Does Matter for My Health?

What is resilience? 

Scientific investigation of resilience has grown immensely in recent years, with over 12,000 papers published on resilience to date. But what exactly is resilience?

Resilience is defined as the capacity of an individual to not only cope in the face of stress or adversity (aka your “bounce-back-ability”) but to grow from the hardships they experience. 

Why does it matter? 

Resilience is strongly related to improved mental health. For example, having resilience can prevent the onset of certain mental illnesses like depression, anxiety, traumatic stress, and can make coping with existing mental health conditions easier.  

High resilience has also been associated with improved physical health in people with various chronic health conditions. So, resilience is important not only for mental health, but also for physical health! Learning to cultivate resilience (yes, resilience can be taught!) can help you lead a healthier lifestyle — physically and mentally. 

You can learn to be resilient 

Resilience isn’t something that you either have or you don’t! Resilience can be learned, modified, and even strengthened. Below, find some starting points to try to cultivate resilience in your own life. 

  • Practice healthy habits that are good for your physical and mental health! This could look like practicing mindfulness or meditation, moving your body, or eating health-promoting foods. 
  • Seek support from your communities. Whether it be family, friends, or any type of loved one, feeling support from others can help you cope with adversity. 
  • Cultivate positivity, hope, and optimism. Imagining and hoping for good outcomes can improve your mood and can help you deal with adversity and stress in your own life. 
  • Act with purpose and intention as you move throughout your day. Even in the face of hardship, try to look for the meaning in each day or take steps to make each day hold meaning for you. 

Considerations for IBD 

Resilience can be especially important to think about in IBD because we know that physical symptoms and psychological symptoms often interact with each other to alter the disease experience. 

For example, experiencing stress about symptoms can make symptoms worse! Since resilience is a concept that affects both physical and psychological health, it has broad implications for improving IBD care. In fact, research has shown that resilience is associated with both better quality of life and decreased disease activity in individuals with IBD. 

Reflecting on your own resilience 

Below are a few questions to ask yourself as you get started thinking about your own resilience. 

  • When thinking about your future, do you expect that good things will happen? 
  • Do you find meaning and purpose in your day-to-day activities? 
  • Are there people you feel you can turn to in times of hardship or stress? 
  • When these tough times come, do you feel you are able to handle them in a way that is healthy for you? 
  • Are you confident that you can manage your own medical care? 
  • Do you feel you’re able to speak with your care team about your physical and mental health? 
  • Are there goals in your life you’re moving towards? 

As you begin thinking through your own resilience, remember that resilience is something that is buildable and can grow and change! Identifying areas where you want to work on building resilience is an important first step. 

Reach out for help 

Trellus Health works to promote resilience in individuals with IBD by monitoring the physical and psychological symptoms in patients and offering appropriate, effective interventions to promote overall health!  

The health benefits of these interventions span across physical and mental health to include increased longevity, cardiovascular, immune, and cognitive function, physical well-being, and reduced risk for depression and anxiety. 

To learn more 

Check out the below resources.