8 Ways to Be More Resilient

Pami Parker

Explore the many different things that contribute to resilience.

In life, we all face stressful experiences. But, each of us is very different in how we cope with these experiences. Some of us cope well and may even grow and improve because of stress. Others struggle and may even develop mental health issues in the face of stress.

Resilience is the set of personal qualities that enable us to thrive in the face of adversity. It may involve being calm in difficult situations, implementing effective coping mechanisms, and handling criticism well.

Why is Resilience Important

Ongoing stress can be hard on our mental and physical health. Personal resilience can buffer us from these effects, shutting down the stress cycle and HPA-axis, enabling us to better fight off illness and other negative outcomes. But resilience can mean different things to different people. For example, to someone who is extroverted, resilience may mean spending extra time with friends. To an introvert, resilience may mean spending more time alone. Although each of us may cope with struggles by using different strategies, the key is to know what works for us and in which circumstances.

How to Be More Resilient


Practice Acceptance

So much pain is created from our tendency to fight the things we cannot change. But the more time we spend getting upset about the uncontrollable situations in our lives, the more time we spend stressed or angry instead of focusing on how we can make the future better. Perhaps this is why acceptance is linked to positive well-being.


Strive for Self-Knowledge

Self-knowledge is essential to resilience. If we do not know ourselves well enough to cope with stressors in ways that are effective for us, then we are likely to struggle. For example, maybe we cope by drinking alcohol or using drugs when we're upset. But the next day, we just end up feeling worse. By developing self-knowledge, we can take actions that help us recover from difficulties more easily.


Take Care of Yourself

When we're sick, tired, and malnourished, we have a harder time responding to any type of stress, big or small. Our bodies just don't have the resources. For example, research has found that sugar intake is related to depression.  If we focus on being healthier, we are likely to boost our resilience. We can do this by eating more nutritious food, engaging in moderate exercise, and sleeping when we're tired.


Prevent Burnout

Burnout is a very real phenomenon that includes emotional exhaustion and cynicism. Research has shown that there are several causes of burnout including too much work, not enough control, not enough pay, social issues, and a mismatch in values If we’re burned out, our resilience is at an all-time low. ​This is why it's so important to prevent burnout before it gets to this point. If possible, try to get out of jobs or roles that are not a good fit for you. Take breaks whenever possible. And be sure to relax during your time off.


Practice Self-Love

Self-love (or self-worth, self-confidence, self-esteem, etc...) may be a crucial part of what it means to be resilient. Positive self-views are closely linked to positive outcomes like happiness and well-being. This may be because if we feel bad about ourselves, it colors every other aspect of our lives. We set ourselves up for disappointing situations and then we blame ourselves for them. By cultivating self-love, we can hopefully respond to stress in healthier ways.


Build Social Connections

No matter what we're doing, we feel better when we're doing it with others. That makes social connections a crucial component of resilience. In fact, one of the most reliable ways to boost well-being is by developing high-quality social relationships and by feeling socially connected to the people in your life.


Take a Step Back

Sometimes when we're going through something difficult, we get so immersed in it that we can't see straight. Our emotions overwhelm and our perspectives narrow. That's why resilience often means being able to take a step back to look at our situation from outside ourselves. More specifically, if we look at our situation as if we were “a fly on the wall” or "a passerby on the street", we can get some much-needed objectivity that can help decrease our negative emotions. This strategy is known as emotional distancing, and it can help us feel better during difficult times.


Make Meaning

It's human nature to try to make meaning of our challenges. We often create explanations in our minds for why things happened to us and why they happened the way they did. This can help us cope with loss and other stressful events. That's why meaning making can be a key part of resilience. If we instead think that bad things happen for seemly no reason, we can end up feeling lost or out of control.

Power of Positivity Practices

Here are some practices that can help you increase your positivity:

Write a Self-Compassion Letter

Being comfortable with yourself—and showing yourself some compassion—can make it easier to find, express, and receive positivity. To build your self-compassion, try writing yourself a self-compassion letter .  In this letter, you say nice things to yourself and give yourself a break for anything that you might have been judging yourself for.

Practice Positive Reappraisal

Positive reappraisal is an emotion regulation strategy that involves trying to reframe the situation to find its benefits and decrease our negative emotions.

Practice Gratitude

Gratitude journals and lists are good ways to grow positivity. Just try to think of something you're grateful for each day or every few days to boost your gratitude.

Experience a Positivity Meditation

Mindfulness meditation has become wildly popular. But what about positivity meditations? These can help you focus your thoughts on the positive and improve your mood. You can find several of these meditations on YouTube. Here is one for you to try:

When Positivity Might Backfire

It turns out that forcing people into positivity can backfire.

For example, putting pessimists into a positive mood not only hurts performance, but it can also actually make them feel more anxious. Sometimes we use worry and other negative outcomes to help us. Also, suppression and other forms of emotional avoidance are not good for well-being.

So, if positivity doesn't feel right for you, or doesn't feel right in a specific situation, that's okay.

How to Boost the Power of Positivity

Sometimes we just need to get our minds open and ready to think more positively. Here are a few questions to ask yourself:
  • What positive qualities do you have?
  • What strengths do you have?
  • What are you grateful for?
  • What do you have to look forward to (or what can you create so you do have things to look forward to)?

In Sum : Capitalizing on the Power of Positivity

If you want more positivity, you can build it. Just be sure not to force positivity when it doesn't feel right. The more you practice skills that generate positivity, the happier you can become.

Realizing Resilience

Help others become more resilient with this complete, 6-module resilience training template for practitioners. Besides the masterclass for you, it also includes all the materials you need to deliver high-quality resilience training sessions that are science-based.

If you are passionate about helping others deal with life’s challenges in a more resilient way, this masterclass is for you. Because not only will you master the 6 most important pillars of resilience, but you’ll also learn to explain and implement them. All the materials you need to confidently apply the science behind resilience in a time-tested way are at your disposal.

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