Think of resilience and you might think of someone facing adversity and being triumphant again and again. It may even conjure up the image of someone being quite overcome for whatever reason and rising up from the ashes. Resilience can mean that someone is all but destroyed but manages to start again, often stronger than before. A soldier who is undeterred in battle, Schwarzenegger in any of the Terminator films, a boxer who gets up time and time again after being knocked down or a determined toddler learning to walk for the first time.
These examples really cover physical resilience and having the strength to get up after literally being knocked or falling down. But, resilience is also about mental health and how someone personally overcomes emotional challenges following difficult situations. Resilience is often talked about in terms of the outcome and how comparatively speaking, people are above the range of normal when it comes to coping with life’s trials, regardless of whether those trials are physical or mental.
Resilience and living solo
What about resilience for those living alone or for a solo parent then? What does resilience mean to them? The fact that someone is on their own with or without children does often infer some kind of pity from others. The general assumption might be that a person on their own may be a victim of some sort – whether it be of a failed relationship, left to raise a child alone or simply, someone who cannot possibly be happy in their own company.
As we know, living alone doesn’t mean someone is home alone crying into their wine (because all single people drink wine obviously) with a rendition of ‘All by Myself’ playing in the background (Bridget Jones has a lot to answer for!)
On the flipside, being alone may also attract some kind of unspoken respect from those firmly in couple territory and an assumption that by default, being alone means being resilient. Other people may respect or admire said solo in equal measure. It is an interesting consideration that someone possibly bereft at their relationship status may also be resilient by default.
What does resilience look like?
What does resilience look like for someone living alone or for a solo parent? Well, in a small way it could be the time when someone was very mean to you at work, spoiling your day, leaving you to go home alone and where you alone, are left to dwell and ponder over every detail of the conversation. It could be the time when you had the day from hell when everything that could go wrong did go wrong and you return home solo, to figure out what on earth happened and debate in your head, the pros and cons of whether or not to leave your job. Talking it through isn’t always an option unless you reach out.
For a solo parent, a day like this could be followed by going home to children who for some reason, refuse to eat the meal you’ve lovingly prepared and then throw tantrums when you say ‘no’, to more digital time; so that by the end of an exhausting day, you’re wondering who or what is the problem here? You’re left quizzing and asking yourself ‘Is it me?’.
Resilience is the time when you are experiencing grief or bereavement or the harder side of a breakup and you don’t want to call and bother your friends or family for the third time in a row. Or, it’s the time when you have had an argument with a family member and that means you negate the chance of being able to ask for their support or advice on another burning issue in your life.
Even more so, resilience is when you live solo with an illness or condition. Friends and family are around but on the whole, you deal with the highs, lows and possibilities alone – demonstrating a strength you might not realise but others can only admire and respect.
Resilience when you’re living alone is being able to endure the daily challenges life presents more or less single-handed but knowing when and who, to ask for support. Resilience is about being able to get up the next day, go through it all again preferably with a smile and some gusto.
If you are a solo parent or living alone and not feeling particularly resilient – here are some tips that may help….
Get plenty of sleep
Self-care is important for anyone but especially for those who are on their own. If you are feeling stressed or worried about your situation try to get plenty of sleep. Someone lacking rest can easily lose perspective and allow things to overcome them. Getting a consistent and steady amount of sleep may enable you to feel more confident about facing challenges. For single parents who struggle to get the opportunity to sleep, make sure you rest when you can, for instance when your child does.
Give yourself a break
Overcoming trials and bouncing back isn’t easy. Be positive and recognise how far you have come. Being on the journey to resilience isn’t an overnight trial – it is an ongoing battle and being kind to yourself is key to boosting confidence and resilience from within.
Hunger or snacking on unsuitable foods can compound feelings of desperation especially if food is a trigger to other areas of your life you’re unhappy with. Eating healthily and regular meals can prevent highs and lows of emotion that often come hand in hand with erratic eating.
Opt for a change of scene
Having a change of location, even for a short amount of time can make all the difference when channelling resilience. Life can quickly become mundane so adding some variety with a trip to somewhere new or a holiday can help reset the mind and help you come back re-energised.
Get help from family and friends
We have said it before at Solo Living, no man (or woman) is an island (not even Schwarzenegger!) and telling others how you feel may do the world of good. Having support and help from those you treasure the most, could help boost your confidence and resilience in the face of adversity.
Generate strength from others
Asking for help is perhaps the bravest step and one which many people struggle to do. Even if you can’t talk to family or friends or do not have an existing support network, there are people out there who can make a difference. Talking to your GP and getting in touch with a national or local mental health charity could offer the support you need. Putting yourself first and admitting you are worthy of help, could very well negate issues around asking for additional support.
Celebrate your solo status
The solo population is increasing and in many cases, living solo by choice. For people choosing to be solo, it is a lifestyle that brings happiness and satisfaction with more opportunities to build networks and social groups while potentially allowing more time and space for personal growth, compared to those in relationships or who are married.
Resilience is by no means something that is only for certain people. It is a characteristic to be developed and fine-tuned, making resilience totally unique to each individual. What is easy for one person to get past, another may struggle deeply with and vice versa, so practising resilience isn’t always straightforward. Rather, it is preferable for anyone living alone or as a solo parent to adopt strategies for resilience enabling them to have the tools and resources to draw upon, when they are faced with problems. Preparing yourself is the best form of defence when it comes to establishing resilience.
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