COGNITIVE RESILIENCE: 1
Let’s begin by looking at STRESS and COGNITIVE FUNCTIONS
As human beings, we encounter various difficulties and challenges in our daily lives while we “hassle” and encounter our life events. Daily living has daily stressors that are either positive or negative. Positive stress occurs when someone is focused, confident, anxious and motivated about the expected results. Unlike negative stress, positive stress is usually a short-term experience or feeling. On the other hand, negative stress is experienced when someone fails to adapt to or cope with life events or situations. Both positive and negative stress affect the functions of the brain. However, stressful life occurrences (negative stress) have a huge effect on the functions of the brain and may result in psychological disorders such as depression or trauma.
Resilience means, “to bounce back”, or recover quickly, (Fletcher & Sarkar, 2013). Imagine that you are a “rubber band” and someone or something is stretching you. Can you be stretched to the point where you are so strained and break, or can you be stretched to the point where you resist and bounce back to your normal size. Every human being is unique and therefore different in how each one responds to challenges and difficulties. Each person has different levels and abilities of resilience. Having resilience is simply means having a healthy, sound and balanced ability to adapt or bounce back positively from stressful occurrences and situations. Resilience is a coping, protective factor and a positive adaptation. Continuous experiences of negative stressors cause an imbalance in the brain (cognitive) and body functions.
COGNITIVE RESILIENCE (PSYCHOLOGICAL RESILIENCE)
Cognitive resilience requires cognitive functions. In order to develop a sound cognitive resilience, you should have an understanding of cognitive functions. Psychological or cognitive resilience is the ability to “mentally” cope with a stressful life occurrence, challenge or event. It is the capability to overcome a negative impact on the cognitive functions, (Staal et al 2008). Cognitive functions are mental process which enable us to navigate our way in daily living and perform tasks. Cognitive functions involve the ability to:
- solve problems
- see things (perception)
- use reason, think, plan and make decisions
- remember (memory)
- integrate oneself and be aware of surroundings (consciousness and orientation)
- sustain, select, integrate and process what is happening around us (attention)
- formulate ideas meaningfully (language)
- think about oneself, relationships and others (social cognition).
Stay connected for the next part where we explore how you can develop cognitive resilience.
P. Rupondo (MCP Psy, BSc Hon. Psy)
Specialist Mental Health Practitioner