6 of the Best Ways to Build Resilience
How do you handle life’s curve balls?
When you’ve experienced loss, adversity, trauma, or perhaps an ongoing period of high stress – what did you do to cope?
How we handle life’s difficulties indicates our level of resilience.
If you lack resilience, you might get overwhelmed by life’s challenges, shut down, and emotionally isolate.
You might act out in unhealthy ways such as drinking too much alcohol or using another substance, risk-taking, undereating or overeating. Additionally, you might obsess or dwell on your problems and feel victimized. You might become unable to take action to help yourself.
On the other hand, if you have greater resilience, you may adapt to life’s curve balls pretty well. You might draw on your inner reserves or faith as you move through the challenge, practicing a high level of self-care. You might readily rely on the social support you have already developed.
You also might ensure you have downtime to be with your grief and feelings, and adopt a positive outlook, knowing your hardship will not last forever. You may even find positive actions to take that boost your self-esteem and well-being.
Without resilience, life may be more difficult. With greater resilience, life may be more manageable. Difficulties even may become opportunities for profound personal growth.
If you aren’t as resilient as you’d like to be, don’t worry. The good news is that you can develop more of this indispensable quality.
Here’s how to build resilience.
Science says that resilience is “the power or ability of a material to return to its original form, position, etc., after being bent, compressed, or stretched.”
This definition suggests elasticity or flexibility, which is a great way to think about human resilience.
However, human resilience also embodies something greater. Having the capacity to adapt and be flexible in our feelings, behaviors, and thinking when exposed to challenges is definitely a big part of being resilient. But there’s a personal growth or spiritual part of resilience too. A calamity or period of difficulty can alter us in a positive way, making us more able, wiser, and stronger.
Resilience is adapting positively in the face of change or adversity.
It comes with a load of benefits, too.
The cognitive and emotional tools we develop when we adapt to adversity equip us to deal with what we may face in the future. Research shows that resilience is protective against the effects of stress and a number of mental health issues, including persistent low mood and feelings of anxiousness. If you have a mental health condition, being resilient may help to improve your coping abilities. People who develop their resilience tend to enjoy stronger social connections as well.
The following tips come from mental health experts and can help you become more resilient.
6 Simple Tips to Help You Build Resilience
- Practice Excellent Self-Care
This is a great place to start, especially if you’re currently dealing with something difficult. Ensure you’re taking excellent care of yourself.
Start with the basics:
- restful sleep
- regular exercise
- nutritious meals
- a relaxation technique or spiritual practice (meditation/yoga, prayer, deep breathing, guided imagery, etc.)
- get outside in nature
- enjoy a hobby
- listen to some music you love
- watch a good program
- time to do nothing at all
Excellent self-care, of course, also means avoiding negative outlets like numbing pain with alcohol, excess food, or other substances.
- Develop Social Connections
Having social support is one of the most foundational components of resilience. Cultivate meaningful, positive relationships with friends and loved ones. These social connections can provide you with sustaining love, wisdom, support, guidance, and acceptance during good and difficult times. Don’t overlook connections outside of your inner circle. Join a spiritual group or community or even your neighborhood book club.
- Look for Growth in Your Experiences
Start developing a mindset that gleans the personal growth you’ve gained from life experiences, good and bad. That horrible breakup last summer? Write down a few things you learned from it. Consider how you have dealt with past hardships. What worked? What didn’t? If you’re currently challenged, is there something you’re learning?
- Stay Positive and Hopeful
Try to stay positive and expect good things to happen. Even if you feel awful currently, cultivate an inner knowing that the difficult time will pass. Times of adversity will not last forever. Find enjoyment in small pleasures. Practice acceptance as it will allow you to deal with your current situation with less anxiousness. Accepting circumstances that cannot be changed can help clarify what can be changed.
- Find a Purpose
Having a greater purpose can keep your sights on the horizon rather than focused on your problems. Take actions, no matter how small, that serve your greater purpose each day. It doesn’t have to be complicated. It could be simple like aiming to be of service to others or to be kind to others. Consider volunteering. Whether you help out at a local food pantry or just listen to a friend going through a hard time, it will help give you a sense of purpose. (It will also boost your self-esteem and connect you with others, further boosting your resilience!)
- Become a Problem-Solver and Goal-Setter
Exercise your problem-solving abilities by facing your challenges head-on. Enlist the help of others to help you, if need be. Write your problem down in black and white. Determine what you can do to make it better. Figure out what action you need to take, make a plan, and then do it.
The same goes for goal-setting. Develop some well-defined and achievable goals and then take consistent, small steps toward achieving them.
Taking steps towards solving a problem or reaching a goal can provide you with a sense of accomplishment – and that can help build resilience. Even small steps can help to improve your circumstances, build confidence, and reduce feelings of anxiousness.
Using your own resources and embracing these tips may not be enough. Don’t hesitate to reach out to a mental health professional. They may provide the added support you need to become more resilient.
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