If there’s one skill we all need in this unpredictable world, it’s resilience. Try as we might, and however hard we work, life will not always go our way. Some people respond to challenges and setbacks by bouncing back even higher, like a superball. Other people are more likely to land like a lead weight and to remain motionless in the face of adversity. Below are 22 resilience tips.

  1. Increase your self-awareness. Nurture a strong sense of self. Build a strong internal moral compass. What is it that you stand for? Knowing this can help you stand your ground when life seems chaotic. Discover things about yourself and your life that create a sense of peace and joy and do them. Explore your interests, values, desires, wishes, inspirations, style, strengths, and more, and record these in a way that is meaningful to you. For instance, what are 20 things that make you smile? What does your ideal day look like? What is something you do during which you lose all track of time (also called “being in the flow”)? What couldn’t you imagine living your life without? What is one healthy habit you would like to start? Why keeps you from doing so? Where do you feel safest? Know your strengths, weaknesses, and needs. In this way, you can tailor your resilience strategies to what works best for you on specific days.
  2. Make a list of your past wins and of adversities you’ve overcome. Keep this handy. Write about a difficult time in your life where you ultimately emerged victorious and what you did to overcome this challenge. Strive to be confident, not cocky nor afraid.
  3. Learn how to reframe events and situations (also known as cognitive reappraisal). Accept reality with a positive attitude, with a focus on how your current situation can help you grow and, in turn, how you may be able to help others. Choose curiosity over worry.
  4. Steer clear of the victim mentality. Instead, see yourself as the hero or heroine of your own story. Rather than asking “Why is this happening to me?”, consider “What next?”, “What can I learn from this?”, or “What do I know now that I didn’t know before?” Use positive self-talk. Notice if and when you are mentally beating yourself up and change your words to those that a person who loves herself or himself would use. Give yourself the benefit of the doubt. See yourself as someone who will and does find a way to cope and thrive in all situations. Doing so will help to approach situations with energy and confidence, rather than shrinking from and avoiding challenges. Steer clear of “drill sergeant” language and be more nurturing and gentle when you speak to yourself.
  5. Recognize that healing and growth are not steady roads upward. Some days will be easier than others, based on how well you slept, what you ate, your external circumstances, interactions with others, and current concerns such as health, finances, etc. So, don’t be surprised if your “best” today is different than what your best was yesterday. Just stay the course and take good care of yourself. For instance, if you’re dealing with a chronic illness, you may be in more pain or discomfort on certain days. These are times for rest and regeneration. On days when you’re feeling stronger, you can tend to matters such as gentle exercise, getting chores done, socializing, or work.
  6. Accept life as it is. Find that healthy balance between being an idealistic Pollyanna, which might lead you to be unprepared for adversity, and a pessimist, which could cause you to throw your hands up in discouragement without giving something a good try. In addition, accept changes as a natural part of life. Neither success or failure are final. Along these lines, accept that a successful life and attitude are grounded in continual growth and learning.
  7. Learn how to be present. Investigate mindfulness training, in particular mindful breathing, and meditation. Centre yourself in the here and now. Develop your ability to focus, stay in and learn from the present moment, resist impulsivity, not give in problem-focused thinking, and manage anxiety. Doing so will give you greater clarity regarding the wisest next step, promotes a relaxation response and increases your resilience when under stress.
  8. Remind yourself that “this too shall pass”. Most crises are temporary. Take it one day at a time. Don’t overburden yourself by regretting the past or worrying about the future.
  9. Maintain your sense of humour. Doing so improves your mood, boosts your immune system, increases endorphins, helps you to manage stress, and keeps you from blowing matters out of proportion.
  10. Give yourself mental breaks. We all need recovery periods, so we can return to the task at hand with renewed strength, insight, and motivation. Take time to pamper yourself, by reading a good book, getting a massage, or listening to music.
  11. Receive constructive criticism gracefully. It’s meant to help you grow. Look for the wisdom being imparted and adjust your course accordingly. Know how to distinguish this from trolls and mean people who don’t have your best interests at heart. Ask yourself, “Would I take advice from this person? What is their mindset? Where are they coming from?” If in doubt, confide in a trusted mentor and ask their advice.
  12. Forgive other people and yourself for misdeeds. However egregious the offensive act may have been, holding on to resentment just depletes you of energy and deters/derails you from living out your purpose.
  13. Learn how to improvise. Keep your mind flexible. Foster creativity and new ways of approaching situations, which add to your emotional and mental toolbox. Keep trying new things, to foster mental and emotional resilience. Resist getting stuck in ruts.
  14. Put in daily effort toward your goals. Practice persistence. Practice overcoming hurdles in everyday life. As Albert Einstein said, “It’s not that I’m so smart. It’s just that I stay with problems longer.” (although he was one smart cookie). What will you do today to challenge yourself?
  15. Don’t compare yourself to others. Run your own race.
  16. Spend time with resilient people. We tend to become similar to the people we hang out with – choose wisely. Look for role models. If you can, spend time with such people. If not, read about or watch programs showing how your role models dealt with difficulties, for inspiration and guidance.
  17. Detach from negativity, such as excessive time spent reading angry social or news media, certain people, or habits you’ve developed that no longer serve you. Simplify. Do you really need to know every move a certain celebrity makes? Doing so just distracts you from living your own life.
  18. Learn to manage your emotions. Allow yourself to feel your feelings, but don’t let them control your actions without consulting your Wise Mind. Take a step back emotionally from what you’re experiencing and try to see the situation as a kind and wise outside party might. To quote Rainer Maria Rilke, “If you are patient in one moment of anger, you will escape one hundred days of sorrow.”
  19. Face your fears. This is obviously not our natural response, but if you make it a habit to sit with your feelings and approach those situations that instinctively cause you to run, you’ll rewire your brain to think differently about fear. You’ll learn that you can bear such feelings, and they will lose their power to derail you.
  20. Develop coping skills ahead of time. Practicing the relaxation response, meditation, yoga, and mindfulness are examples of skills best honed before a crisis hits. Commit to doing one of these (or another) stress management techniques on a regular basis, so that when you encounter difficulties in your life, you’ll be better able to calm and balance yourself.
  21. Practice self-compassion. Acknowledge that you’re having a difficult time. Remember that you are not alone in your suffering. Ask, “How can I be kind to myself in this moment? What do I need? What am I feeling?”
  22. Become part of a cause that’s bigger than you. This helps give you perspective on your problems, offers you a chance to be useful to others, and can distract you temporarily from ruminations. Combine doing what you like to do and/or are good at with serving others. For example, you could volunteer for a cause you feel passionate about or join a social, sports, or spiritual organization.

Remember that resilience refers to the ability to bounce back. It does not mean being perfect. It clearly doesn’t mean that it will always be smooth-sailing. It does mean that you get up again and again when you fall. It means that when you encounter adversity, you are able to deal with it in such a way that you emerge from the experience stronger and wiser than before.

For further support & advice contact EAP Assist.