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Rural Australia: Characteristics of resilient people

What occurs in certain people and communities to build resilience in the face of great adversity?

What are the characteristics of resilient people?

Australian rural communities face a unique set of challenges, each with the capacity to have generation-long impacts. From unpredictable climate and market conditions, social isolation and reduced access to services1, these rural communities know how to withstand most of which the world can throw at them.

So, what occurs to build such resilience in these groups of people that might otherwise break their urban counterparts? According to a study conducted by experts at Rural and Remote Health, individual resilience in rural people can be broken down into key ‘themes’.

Let’s take a look at some of the key characteristics of resilient people.

Being able to bounce back

Being able to bounce back or move on despite being ‘bruised and battered’ was seen as an important characteristic in a resilient person2. This doesn’t simply mean forgetting or disregarding adverse situations or periods of grief, it simply means being able to maintain positivity and persistence in times of high stress.

Professor Paul Wong, Trent University, states in his research paper The Positive Psychology of Persistence and Flexibility that “persistence beckons you with eternal hope.”3 It is through this act of perseverance that the mind strengthens to withstand adversity, and develops the ability to ‘bounce back’ from a setback or period of stress, according to Professor Wong.

Accepting and being flexible to change

Rural Australia sees some of the most impactful changes in the country. When your trade and income is reliant on natural resources and environment, a slight change in weather conditions can make or break a season for farmers.

Accepting that the weather changes, being prepared for those changes and having a backup plan is integral. Brad Waters MSW states that practicing acceptance “is not about giving up and letting the stress take over, it's about leaning in to experience the full range of emotions and trusting that we will bounce back.”4

Likewise, Professor Wong states “flexibility enables you to get through the obstacles that stand between you and your dreams,”5 which indicates the need to adapt to your ever-changing environment.

Seeking help from others

It is often the most difficult thing to do, but asking those around us for help is integral in building resilience. Often, we feel that not having all the answers ourselves is a type of failure, however this is simply not the case.

“When we try hard to find the answers to difficult questions in the face to traumatic events, that trying too hard can block the answers from arising naturally in their own due time,”6 says Brad Waters MSW.

“The most resilient among us know how to reach out for help.”7

People who live and work in rural communities have to deal with a specific set of hardships which can and do take their toll over time.8

Resilience is something that has to be taught, and its habits should be nurtured through a balance of mindfulness, gratitude and empathy towards others. The Resilience Project teaches these three pillars, and provides practical and tangible strategies for individuals, families, students and professionals alike to cope better in the ever-evolving world around us.

To learn more about the power of resilience and how you can better nurture your own, visit www.theresilienceproject.com.au today.