Can Positive Psychology improve your resilience and Mental Health?
January 29, 2017 by Stuart Rawlins
Resilience is still an often talked about topic in today’s ever changing and stressful world, we constantly hear that being resilient is important in both our personal lives as well as in our workplace.
But what does it mean for our mental health or for those of us that have a mental health condition, and more importantly how can we build up our resilience to assist in managing a mental health condition such as PTSD?
For a start let’s look at resilience and what the word means. There are lots of different descriptions or definitions out there but one that I personally resonate with is one that is promoted in the U.S Army as a part of their Master Reliance Training Program.
It provides the following explanation for resilience. ¹Resilience refers to overall physical and psychological health, and has been described as the ability to “bounce back from adversity.” There it is simple and straight to the point, resilience is our ability to bounce back from adversity.
So how can you build up your resilience to assist you with maintaining positive mental health in general? Or to assist with a specific mental health condition?
A positive mental health approach and resilience development can be seen to draw its influence from positive psychology.
²Positive Psychology is a relatively new branch of psychology that shifts the focus from what is clinically wrong, to the promotion of well-being and the creation of a satisfying life filled with meaning, pleasure, engagement, positive relationships, and accomplishment.
In essence positive psychology delves into and focuses on areas such as: positive emotions, positive experiences, positive environments and human strengths and virtues.
It is not intended to replace traditional clinical psychology but it merely changes the focus from what is going wrong to the importance of what is going right and what your strengths are.
For a more in-depth description of what positive psychology is about below is a YouTube clip (4:58mins).
From my own personal experiences with PTSD and Depression I can resonate with the importance of focusing on the positive aspects of life to improve my resilience and mental health. Looking deeper into how I deal with challenges in my work and home life, the friends that I surround myself with, to finding out what is really meaningful in my life and following it with passion has certainly helped.
It certainly does not take away the importance of dealing with the clinical side of mental health, but I do see positive psychology as a refreshing additional approach that has a place in building resilience and improving the way we deal with mental health conditions.
PS – The Black Dog Institute of Australia has a great PDF that also fully explains positive psychology. Click on their name in the above sentence for a direct link to the PDF.
Stuart Rawlins | Healthy Mind Healthy Future
Strategies to improve your Mental Health
¹Reivich KJ, Seligman ME, McBride S. Master resilience training in the U.S. Army. Am Psychol. 2011;66:25–34.
² Anne Siret, www.annesiret.com
³ Keyes & Haidt, 2004