Have you ever wondered why some people seem to bounce back from a significant traumatic event without appearing scathed at all, while others seem to struggle with the minor hassles of daily life?
The ability to cope well with life’s challenges is often referred to as resilience, and it’s this skill that enables us to overcome the trials and tribulations that are sent our way.
What’s more, contrary to popular belief, psychological resilience isn’t a trait that is only possessed by the fortunate few.
It can, in fact, be learned by anyone. So, if you want to be more robust, then try these seven resilience-boosting strategies.
1. Practice Self-Awareness
How well do you know yourself? This may sound like an obvious question, but really understanding who you are and what drives you will serve you well in many aspects of your life, including becoming more resilient.
A good way to increase your self-awareness is to think about and write down your core values and priorities in a journal.
Identify and note your strengths and weaknesses and consider how your strengths have benefited you in the past and how your limitations may have hindered you.
Then look at how you can use this information to manage difficult experiences more effectively and achieve your goals.
2. Use the Reappraisal Technique
Your emotional experiences play a fundamental role in how resilient you are.
This is because when you are dealing with many negative emotions on a daily basis, over time it will wear you down mentally and physically, leaving you with scarce resources for overcoming yet another hurdle.
This is where the reappraisal technique can help as it enables you to lessen the intensity of your negative emotions by re-framing the event that caused them.
It’s an effective technique because you can’t prevent adverse situations from arising but you can learn to control your emotional responses and not be so affected by them.
For instance, if you applied for a promotion at work and you didn’t get it, instead of thinking badly of yourself or your boss, you simply tell yourself that this time it wasn’t meant to be and that there will be other opportunities in the future.
It wouldn’t mean that you are inadequate for not being selected; it would just mean that you weren’t the best fit for the position at that moment in time.
If faced with a situation like this, you might even decide to increase your skills so that when the opportunity arises again, you’ll have more to offer as a candidate, increasing your chance of being offered a future promotion.
By actively putting your own positive spin on what could otherwise be perceived as a major setback puts you back in control of your own life, which is what resilience is all about.
3. Make Time to Relax
Relaxation is good for both your mind and body, so aim to set aside some time each day where you can do something that helps you to relax.
Some people find reading a good book, having a soak in the bath, or listening to calm music helps them to unwind.
If you find it hard to switch off, then you might benefit from this breathing technique:
Sit comfortably with your back straight and take a breath in. While doing this, feel the air going into your lungs, notice your chest rising, then hold the breath for a moment before breathing out.
Then, as you breathe out, feel the air leave your lungs and notice your chest falling, pause again for a moment, then repeat.
Aim to do this for at least two minutes. As your breathing starts to slow down, you should start to feel calmer.
4. Develop Problem-Solving Skills
Highly resilient people often display strong problem-solving skills which is hardly surprising given that solution-focused people feel in charge of their lives.
If you want to develop or enhance your ability to focus more on the solution rather than the problem, then start by answering these four simple questions:
- What is the problem?
- What is your goal?
- What is stopping you from achieving your goal?
- How can you overcome any obstacles?
By adopting a proactive attitude and identifying what you want and thinking about how you can achieve it, you will shift your mindset from problem-focused to solution-focused.
5. Foster a Positive Self-Image
What do you like about yourself? What are your strengths? Remind yourself of these frequently so that you feel more confident and better about yourself.
If you are currently struggling to overcome some adversity, think about how you overcame previous challenges and give yourself credit for this.
Think about how you can use what you have learned from previous experiences and apply it to your current situation.
6. Nurture Supportive Relationships
Research shows that supportive relationships are a primary factor in resilience.
This is because being able to talk about our concerns to the people that care about us strengthens us as it helps us to know that we are not alone in dealing with whatever life throws our way.
7. Get Enough Physical Exercise
Doctors often recommend physical exercise to those with mild to moderate depression because it has been shown to be as effective as antidepressants.
In addition to this, there is also growing evidence to suggest that certain types of exercise like swimming, weight lifting, walking and running may reduce PTSD symptoms.
This is because exercise that requires both arm and leg movements is more likely to shift your focus onto your bodily sensations which helps to de-stress your nervous system.