Life doesn’t always run as smoothly as we wish it would. At some point, all of us will be presented with challenges, times of stress, or even traumatic experiences. However, human beings are generally resilient and can train themselves to deal with these experiences successfully.
In general terms, resilience refers to the ability to bounce back from adversity or times of distress and to grow from these challenges. It is a character trait that can be learned, and it can help you face difficulties in life in an adaptive way.
Below are some resilience skills to invest in and keep in your toolbox:
Human beings are wired to connect and crave a sense of belonging. Having a strong social support network is strongly related to your mental and physical health. When it comes to facing adversity, these relationships will bolster resilience and provide you with a sense of relief, reassurance, and connection that will help you better navigate challenges.
Although you may be inclined to isolate yourself when going through difficulties, it’s important to reach out to a friend, family member, colleague, or mentor to build adaptability.
Instead of focusing on what is missing in your life, try practicing gratitude. Gratitude allows you to acknowledge what is already present.
Studies have shown that the practice of feeling grateful has many benefits: it increases the production of dopamine, the feel-good hormone, it decreases anxiety and depression, and it lowers your heart rate so you can feel more safe and at peace.
Being grateful also supports a more balanced and realistic outlook and challenges extreme negative thinking.
By developing a clearer and more grounded mind, it is easier to make use of your internal resources to solve problems and address your challenges.
We all experience thoughts, feelings, and physical sensations that don’t serve us well in dealing with a situation. Developing the ability to change these feelings to your advantage is a key component of resilience.
While you often can’t control external variables, you can regulate your inner response to them.
One powerful tool we often forget about is our breathing. By increasing the length of your exhales, for example, you can activate the parasympathetic nervous system to create a sense of calm and safety within yourself. At the same time, you switch off the sympathetic nervous system´s fight or flight response, which impedes you from taking effective actions to self-regulate.
It’s a common tendency for people to try and control things in their lives. A core element of resilience is accepting the elements you can’t control in a given situation and not spending your mental and emotional energy on them. This practice of surrendering does not involve giving up, but rather allows you to focus your energy on those aspects which you might be able to control in a more resourceful way.
Through this acceptance practice, you can shift from playing a reactive or passive role in your life to playing a more proactive and empowered one by helping you focus on the things you can control.
“Something larger than yourself” can be thought of as faith or spirituality, but it does not necessarily involve being religious.
Resilient people are connected to something beyond their immediate selves, which can be nature, an idea, a mission, etc. By “zooming out” and taking a look at the bigger picture of life, you can find meaning in your experiences and connect to feelings of purpose in those experiences. This instills a sense of hope that will allow you to carry on in the face of adversity.
As we have seen, there are both individual and social factors that contribute to resilience. While some people may be able to use their resilience skills to navigate challenges on their own, facing difficulties alone might not be easy. In these cases, reaching out for support can be helpful.
The road to resiliency may not always be smooth and comfortable, but it leads to a more empowered and heroic version of yourself.
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Lucía is a holistic psychotherapist, mental wellness coach & kundalini yoga teacher. Passionate about empowering individuals to reach their full potential and achieve a state of mental and emotional wellbeing. Lucia takes a strength-based, holistic approach in her work with clients, which integrates Western, evidence-based practices grounded in science with more spiritually minded Eastern practices. Learn more and connect with Lucía here.