Have you ever wondered what the difference is between someone who thrives off adversity versus someone who panics when confronted with a challenge? The answer is resilience. Resilience refers to your ability to cope with stress or pressure, or how quickly you recover from hardships. It’s a defining characteristic of successful workers. Why? Because we all face stressful situations in the workplace and the ability to bounce back from those enables us to be a more productive contributor.
Resilience is also a great tool to have in your personal life as change happens to all of us and surviving and thriving in it helps you grow as a person. The good news is resilience isn’t a quality you’re born with, it’s a skill you can actively develop. Our 8 tips will teach you how to build resilience and discover healthy habits for navigating stressful situations:
1. Prioritize Connections
A resilient person builds up a strong support system of compassionate, empathetic people. If you’re going through a challenging time, or even a one-off stressful situation, accept help from others. Their support and advice could assist you in navigating through your difficulties. In turn, reciprocate by helping others in times of need; this will give you a greater sense of purpose.
2. Practice Mindfulness
Mindfulness and resiliency go hand-in-hand. Mindfulness essentially refers to being more aware of your emotions and more present in what you’re doing. There are many ways to practice mindfulness, including journaling, yoga, meditation, and simple breathing exercises. Read our mindfulness tips for more details.
3. Be a Proactive Goal-setter
Set realistic, measurable goals for yourself to give yourself a “personal why” or purpose. Be proactive about moving toward these goals. If you’re dealing with a stressful situation, it can be helpful to remind yourself of your goals and the larger picture of what you’re working toward to keep you moving forward. If the goals themselves are causing stress, break them down into smaller, more achievable pieces.
4. Learn from Difficulties
When we go through hard times, it can be hard to find anything positive about our experience. To be more resilient, consider the difficulties you face as a learning opportunity. Think about what skills or achievements you can obtain by going through them. In some cases, these may be soft skills, such as emotional intelligence. Or in a work setting, you may be able to work on hard skills by taking on more challenging projects.
5. Replace Negative Outlets
To cope with adversity, you may turn to bad habits that don’t serve your mental or physical health. They may be helpful in the moment, but overall cause greater stress long-term. For example, it’s common for people to indulge in unhealthy foods when they’re stressed because it helps them feel better while they’re eating it. But often, these people experience feelings of guilt or shame after engaging in the habit that outweighs any benefit it gave them in the moment.
If this sounds like you, learn how to replace these bad habits with positive alternatives. And remember, there’s actually a science to how we form habits, so use it to your advantage. Try reading a popular habit-forming book, like Tiny Habits by B.J. Fogg or Atomic Habits by James Clear, to help you set up a science-backed plan.
6. Embrace Change
Change is a fact of life, but it’s also true that humans are naturally resistant to change. We like when things stay as they are! Learning to accept change is a key tool in the resilient person’s toolbox. Remember to think of change as a chance to adapt, learn, and grow as a person. It’s not the end of something, but rather a new opportunity.
7. Accept What You Can’t Change
On the flip side of the previous coin, understand that there are many things that you can’t change, like people or processes. If these are causing you stress, you need to choose to accept them or remove them from your environment (if possible). Dwelling on them will keep you stuck where you are and cause unneeded negativity in your life. If you’re still stressed about the same thing you were stressed about ten years ago, the problem may actually be in your mindset.
8. Shift Toward Optimism
It’s easy to say “be more positive!” but much harder to actually do it in practice. Thinking optimistically is not an inherited trait; like any skill, it’s something you need to practice to get good at. Here are some tips for shifting toward a more optimistic outlook in life:
- Remind yourself that most things are temporary and that the difficulty you’re facing will likely pass soon.
- Reward yourself for small wins. Some of us have all-or-nothing thinking (for example, “I either work out for 45 minutes today or I’m a failure!”). We think that if we don’t reach our overarching goals, we don’t deserve to be happy with ourselves. It’s time to shift that thinking and remember that smaller wins are progress toward our goals. Celebrate each small step, and you’ll motivate yourself to keep going.
- Identify irrational thinking in your thought patterns. Reason with yourself (or with a supportive friend) on what rational thought should replace those less rational ones.
The above tips are meant to offer a helpful starting point for how to be more resilient. If it’s not clear by now, the key to building resilience is to practice, practice, practice! Figure out which approaches work best for you and keep working at them to develop a healthier response to whatever comes your way.