Life is hectic. It is full of surprising highs and unexpected lows, all of which make us who we are today. Resilience is key in dealing with such a roller coaster, particularly the lows that may leave us devastated and in disarray. Occasionally called emotional resilience, it is when you are able to adapt to stressful situations without too much difficulty. To be resilient means you are flexible, versatile and mentally strong. Below are some suggestions on how to build your resilience.
1. Gratitude journal
This may sound naff, initially, like starting a teen diary, but it does work. Write down two or three things that you are grateful for everyday. It doesn’t have to be big things, but the small, everyday positives, such as the extra chocolate sprinkles over your cappuccino, or a free seat on a busy bus.
We can adapt to change and difficult situations by appreciating what we already have. It can feel false to start with, but if we practice, it can build up to quite an armory to challenge our negativity.
Giving or asking for support is a sign of strength and mental agility. Humans are not meant to live alone and that means asking for help when it is needed, and vice versa. Seeking support isn’t always for negative reasons, but can be sought for positive feedback. Such positivity should not be limited to other people, however. You should acknowledge the great work you’ve done so far, admiring just how much you have already accomplished.
I can go and let my guard down and not only talk openly, but also receive really honest and relatable feedback. They also help to build confidence in your decision making, which I think is a huge part of growing resilience.
It’s all about balance. Work and life must be proportionate to each other, giving you time to deal with everyday situations and respond with wisdom and clarity. If you don’t stop and think why something is bothering you, then you will never know how to properly address such issues.
Next time you’re feeling suppressed, frustrated or worn down, check yourself. Go over that internal chatter a few times and see if you can connect how you’re describing it to yourself to how you feel.
4. Healthy body
Without the solid foundation of a healthy body, your mind’s struggle to remain positive just becomes an uphill battle. Eating well and exercising regularly increases your mental wellbeing. There should also be a focus on slowing things down and not running your body into the ground.
No-one is an island. Make sure you’re getting the support you need – sleeping well, and take exercise. Energy is the founding principle of resilience. You can’t improve the situation if you’re exhausted.
5. Set goals and learn from them
Setting goals is easy, but setting realistic goals a little trickier. This is especially true when you’ve just faced failure, such as in the form of a job rejection or a project blunder. You will feel down and not encouraged at all to begin afresh with new goals. However, now is the time to do so, since you know what didn’t work last time, you can build on this and become more confident as a result.
When you correct an error, your brain builds new wiring to guide you to make a better choice next time. So doing something wrong can actually be beneficial in the long-term, replacing misinformation with firm experience. The strongest understandings we have do not come from what we’ve memorised but rather from what we’ve learned from failure.
When it comes down to it, you need to give yourself time and space to explore yourself. The amount of time and space you give yourself is wholly personally and dependent on you. No one knows you better than you know yourself.
Create space for yourself to explore your challenges. That space could be simply the gym in the morning. It could be meditation. It could be mindfulness. It could be coaching or therapy. It could just be writing.
For more information on building resilience, or any other mental health problems, check out the charity Mind.