5 Life Pivot Hacks

When people think of resilience what often comes to mind is mental strength or grit. However, resilience is multi-faceted, and you can become your most resilient self by bolstering each type. Your resilience comes into play during times of stress, and when the unexpected happens, like getting long Covid or a similarly debilitating health condition. Let’s explore different types of resilience and how to build them.

Physical resilience

Typically, people begin losing muscle in their 30s. We need muscle volume and strength to maintain our independence and our capacity to do standard activities of daily living, such as carrying shopping bags (which requires grip strength) and squatting to use the toilet. When people gain muscle, physiological changes happen (e.g. in satellite cells) so that, even if the person briefly loses that muscle due to injury or being incapacitated by illness, it’s easier to get it back than it is for a person who has never built that extra muscle. Research shows that, for older people, even brief periods of not being active can greatly accelerate age-related muscle loss. In combination, these mechanisms mean it’s important to build muscle when you can, and, especially from middle age on, that you try to avoid sicknesses that would result in more than a week or so of inactivity.

Intellectual resilience

We have two types of intelligence, our store of knowledge (known as crystallised intelligence) and our fluid intelligence, which is our ability to process new information, learn, and solve problems.

You can think of intellectual resilience in a similar way to physical fitness. Having a store of knowledge, and habits of learning, help an individual retain function if they develop health conditions that can affect people’s cognition. This could include problems such as depression, brain injuries, or autoimmune-related conditions such as multiple sclerosis, among many others.

Social resilience

Our close, medium, and distant social networks provide resources to draw on when we need to cope with problems we haven’t previously faced. Again, you can think of two aspects, your store of social relationships, and your skills and habits of forming and strengthening relationships. Even if you currently have a good group of friends and colleagues, consider keeping your skills at forming new connections sharp. Consider how you habitually connect with people (like through sports, hobbies, or mutual contacts), and all the diverse ways it’s possible to support and be supported by others. Don’t rely on a single way to make friends, like only through your job or children, or one particular hobby or interest. Likewise, don’t outsource your social connecting to one or two other people, such as letting your spouse arrange all your joint social activities.

Financial resilience

There are lots of different ways to increase your financial resilience. Passive income, such as from investments, is one way. Another is having ways of making money outside of your main career. A third is skills that allow you to dramatically reduce your spending if need be, such as being adept at purchasing secondhand items, fixing what breaks in your home, entertaining yourself cheaply, or borrowing items rather than buying. If you’re doing the best you can financially but still struggling, be compassionate with yourself, ditch money shame, and look at how you can apply your character strengths to the problem of financial resilience (such as if you’re brave, resourceful, or a creative problem-solver).

Mental resilience

This last category includes what most people think of when they think of resilience. Whatever your personality and nature, there is a mentally resilient version of you. For example, you might be irritable and a worrier, but also have wonderful skills at gratitude and healthy self-soothing. Or, you might have tremendous persistence and grit, even though you’re also somewhat cynical and distrusting of others. Rather than thinking there is only one way to be mentally resilient (such as by being stoic, or whatever is currently the attitude du jour in pop psychology), recognise there are many ways. Work mostly with your nature. Venture a little outside that in any ways that make sense to you and that seem useful, such as if you think being a little less or more independent, open, or hopeful would be advantageous.

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