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Building Resilience in the Face of Challenges

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Published: 04/11/2023

Tips and techniques for developing emotional resilience to better navigate life’s ups and downs.

In today’s fast-paced and ever-changing world, building resilience has become a vital skill to navigate through the challenges that life throws our way. Resilience is the ability to bounce back from setbacks, adapt to change, and maintain a positive outlook despite difficult circumstances. It’s about developing the inner strength to overcome obstacles and emerge stronger than before.

To build resilience effectively, it’s important to understand what it entails. Resilience is not an innate trait; it's a skill that can be developed over time. It involves a combination of psychological, emotional, and social factors that contribute to our ability to cope with challenges. Resilient individuals possess the capacity to adapt, maintain a positive mindset, and seek support when needed. They see setbacks as opportunities for growth and are willing to learn from their experiences. When you have resilience, you harness the inner strength that helps you rebound from a setback or challenge, such as a job loss, an illness, a disaster, or a loved one’s death. If you lack resilience, you might dwell on problems, feel victimised, become overwhelmed or turn to unhealthy coping mechanisms, such as substance abuse, eating disorders or risky behaviours. Resilience won’t make your problems go away — but resilience can give you the ability to see past them, find enjoyment in life and better handle stress. If you aren’t as resilient as you’d like to be, you can develop and learn skills to become more resilient.

Resilience is the ability to adapt to difficult situations. When stress, adversity, or trauma strikes, you still experience anger, grief, and pain, but you’re able to keep functioning — both physically and psychologically. However, resilience isn't about putting up with something difficult, being stoic or figuring it out on your own. In fact, being able to reach out to others for support is a key part of being resilient.

Resilience can help protect you from various mental health conditions, such as depression and anxiety. Resilience can also help offset factors that increase the risk of mental health conditions, such as being bullied or previous trauma. If you have an existing mental health condition, being resilient can improve your coping ability

Tips to improve your resilience

If you like to become more resilient, consider these tips:

  • Get connected. Building strong, positive relationships with loved ones and friends can provide you with needed support, guidance, and acceptance in good and bad times. Establish other important connections by volunteering or joining a faith or spiritual community.
  • Make every day meaningful. Do something that gives you a sense of accomplishment and purpose every day. Set clear, achievable goals to help you look for the future meaningfully.
  • Learn from experience. Think of how you’ve coped with hardships in the past. Consider the skills and strategies that helped you through difficult times. You might even write about past experiences in a journal to help you identify positive and negative behaviour patterns — and guide your future behaviour.
  • Remain hopeful. You can’t change the past but can always look toward the future. Accepting and even anticipating change makes adapting and viewing new challenges easier with less anxiety.
  • Take care of yourself. Tend to your own needs and feelings. Participate in activities and hobbies you enjoy. Include physical activity in your daily routine. Get plenty of sleep and create consistent bedtime rituals. Eat a healthy diet. Practice stress management and relaxation techniques, such as yoga, meditation, guided imagery, deep breathing, or prayer.
  • Be proactive. Don’t ignore your problems. Instead, figure out what needs to be done, make a plan and take action. Although it can take time to recover from a major setback, traumatic event, or loss, know that your situation can improve if you work at it.

Becoming more resilient takes time and practice. If you don’t feel you’re making progress — or you don’t know where to start — consider talking to a mental health professional. With guidance, you can improve your resiliency and mental well-being.

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