7 ways to build your resilience
BY: DR. LILLIAN NEJAD
Resilience is defined as the capacity to recover or adapt quickly to difficult and stressful situations and is often referred to as the ability to “bounce back” from adversity. But resilience is more than that. It is also about having a “can-do” optimistic outlook whenever you face a challenge and learning from any experience—whether it’s a failure or success.
Being resilient does not mean that you never feel anxious or distressed. It’s not about pushing away your feelings. Just like courage involves feeling scared, resilience involves experiencing discomfort and being willing to experience distressing emotions and circumstances.
“If you want the rainbow, you gotta put up with the rain.”
It’s never too late to build your resilience. Here are seven ways you can start:
1. Give and receive support:
Develop and nurture your close relationships and ask for help when you need it. The importance of having strong social connections cannot be underestimated; research shows it is the primary factor in developing resilience. Close relationships serve to build trust, foster a positive self-concept and outlook on life, and provide models for the effective use of skills when facing life’s challenges.
2. Back yourself: Accept that change, uncertainty and painful experiences are a part of life and believe that you will find a way to cope no matter what happens. Tell yourself, “I can cope with setbacks,” and “I will learn from my mistakes and move forward.”
3. Be grateful:
Research has also shown that gratitude improves resilience and increases optimism. Make it part of your daily life to acknowledge the people, places, things, circumstances, organizations, and events that you are grateful for—and don’t forget the little things.
4. Challenge yourself:
Learn new skills, take on challenges, do things that make you feel anxious. When you feel anxious that you are going to fail or make a mistake, resist the urge to avoid the situation and approach it instead. If you don’t fail, you learn to believe in yourself, and if you do fail, you have the opportunity to practice resilience. It’s a win, win!
5. Take care of yourself:
Self-care is necessary to a healthy and balanced life. It is not optional. This includes nutrition, physical activity, sleeping well, taking care of your medical needs and taking time to just to do nothing or to enjoy a moment.
6. Be mindful:
Mindfulness is about being aware of what is going on within you and around you in a nonjudgmental way. This skill is especially important when you are experiencing distress and challenging circumstances. If you are able to accept your internal and external experiences without judging yourself (or others), you are far more likely to cope well and make effective choices.
7. Practice self-compassion:
Resilience is an effective response to life’s challenges. But when life’s challenges are constant, unrelenting and have no end in sight, our ability to remain resilient becomes the challenge. And then we feel bad, guilty, and frustrated for not being resilient enough. This just makes things worse and can have a detrimental impact on our mental health including burnout, exhaustion, anxiety and overwhelm at work and at home. To achieve our goals, we need to persist beyond challenges and obstacles that present themselves along the way. Instead of getting weighed down by guilt and self-criticism, be kind to yourself, and reframe failures and mistakes as opportunities to learn.