In a New York Times article, "How to Build Resilience in Midlife," Dr. Dennis Charney, a resilience researcher, advises that you can increase your own resilience by going outside of your comfort zone. "There is a biology to this. Your stress hormone systems will become less responsive to stress so you can handle stress better."
Being positive or optimistic is another key, and this is something that can be developed. In his book Everything's an Offer, Robert Poynton talks about how improvisers on a bare stage must use all ideas--even accidents--to create the seen. When you can frame setbacks as offers to be explored, more possibilities open up.
So say hello to a stranger, wear something fun, extend an invitation, and get out of your comfort zone!
Among the primary interventions identified to ward off dementia are increasing physical activity and social contact, and decreasing depression.
An idea that came to me early in my applied improvisation training was that these exercises were like brain-training games, but instead of an individual alone with a screen, they are instead experiencing physical activity, social engagement, and the benefits of laughter. And all three of these elements are key in combating depression. And these are only a few of the benefits of improv! Cool, huh?
An article in The Atlantic magazine looks at psychologists who are applying improv as part of a therapeutic practice. Key elements of improv theatre include acceptance (yes, and...), collaboration, making your partner look good, and making strong choices without knowing where they will lead. The psychologists in this article say that playing improv games together generates trust in the group and greater self-confidence. "The lack of planning and structure in improv means that performers must function without a safety net, but...if all play authentically to each other, fear of failure loses its sting—a net of support is constructed from the openness, trust, and acceptance.”
Read the article here.