How Do You Build Resilience?

Resilience is the ability to adapt in the face of adversity or stress. Some folks seem to be born with this ability, others have to work hard to develop it. So how can you build resilience in order to face the day-to-day problems and traumas that we all have to face? Is it inherent, or do you have to learn and develop the skills in order to use them when necessary?

What is resilience? 

According to the APA, resilience means “bouncing back” from tragedy or adversity. This is an ordinary trait, one that many people have learned or developed throughout their lifetimes, rather than an  unusual or extraordinary trait. When you experience stressors – personal relationship problems, serious health concerns, financial issues or troubles in the workplace – you draw upon this ability to overcome the situation. This doesn’t mean that resilient people don’t experience sadness or emotional pain, but rather they rise above it to keep on functioning.

Factors that contribute to resilience

The main factor that makes it easier for us to cope during stressful times is having caring, supportive relationships with family and friends. When we have love and trust behind us and role models who show us how to deal with problems, it helps boost resilience. We feel secure and reassured that all is possible. When we develop the ability to make realistic goals and then take the steps necessary to carry them through, it teaches us that we’re capable of so much more than we may have suspected. “A positive view of yourself and confidence in your strengths and abilities” helps you reach for that inherent strength when times get touch, according to the APA. Developing problem solving and communication skills, and learning to manage strong feelings and impulses, are also possible.

How can you build resilience?

This is a personal experience, based upon the amount of trauma and stress that you have faced throughout your life. Cultural differences may come into play, including how you connect with those you love, extended family and your community. Cultural diversity provides access to different resilience-building techniques. You need to develop a strategy.

Strategies that work

Good relationships are vital to developing these skills. You have to accept help and support from those you trust in times of need. Becoming active in various civic or faith-based communities may help you build your resilience, as may support groups that help you reclaim hope. When you help others in times of need, you may also find yourself being helped. Once you can see that a crisis in not insurmountable, you can adjust your interpretation and response

When you move toward realistic goals, even taking baby steps each day can build your resilience. When faced with adversity, do your best to take action rather than just wishing a problem would go away. Self-discovery is vital to changing your  mindset. Ask yourself: “Why do I react the way I do? What did I learn when going through a difficult period in life? Did the experience make me grow as a person: a friend, a parent, a child, a spouse?” This can help boost your self-worth and self-confidence and may give you new appreciation for life.

Be positive and take care

Learn to see yourself in a positive light by developing self-confidence. Trust your instincts and keep things in perspective. Learn strategies to keep a long-term perspective rather than just dwelling upon the present difficulties. Stay hopeful, work on optimism and trust that good things will happen to you. The APA recommends, “Visualize what you want rather than worrying about what you fear.”

Take care of yourself and learn to recognize your own needs and feelings. Take time to relax, exercise, eat properly and get enough rest. This will help with your mindset and give you strength to go on. Use a journal to capture your thoughts and feelings as a gauge about your growth. Meditation or joining a community of faith can also help you. Find your own ways to foster resilience and use them regularly.

Stay flexible and balance your life

Focusing on past experiences while working toward the future takes some patience. Learn which strategies have worked in the past by considering how you were affected by different stressful experiences. Did thinking of others important to you help? Who could you reach out to? Did it help you to help others during their own stressful times? Have you ever overcome my own obstacles and how did you do this? What helps you feel hopeful about the future?

You have to realize that strong emotions are not always bad: Sometimes, you have to let yourself experience them and other times it helps to block them to keep on going. Take control and deal with your problems, but also take time to step back and recharge. It’s good to spend time with others to get encouragement, but you also need to take time for yourself.

If necessary, reach out for professional help through therapy, a support or self-help group, or by reading about others who have survived life-changing experiences. Find the method that works best for you and keep on learning, growing and getting stronger. Life is a balancing act, and with every experience, you get just a little bit more flexible.