You’ve probably heard the word “resilience” pop up more often recently—and for good reason. With so much uncertainty and change in the world around us during the past couple of years, many people—young and old— have been struggling with high stress levels.
So what is it that makes some people seem relatively calm and collected when faced with adversity, while others become completely overwhelmed?
It’s the degree of emotional and psychological resilience they have.
This means that when serious stressors, crises, tragedy, and other types of trauma occur, they can recover more quickly and adapt to the changing circumstances more easily. This doesn’t mean they don’t experience emotional pain and distress about bad situations, but rather they employ helpful thought patterns and behaviors that support them as they go through difficult times.When faced with a serious stressor, crisis, tragedy, or other trauma, people with greater emotional and psychological resilience tend to recover more quickly and have an easier time adapting to change. Click To Tweet
Some people may naturally have a greater capacity for being resilient, but even when that’s not the case, it’s something that can be developed with the right strategies when faced with life’s unexpected twists and turns.
5 Ways to Increase Your Emotional and Psychological Resilience
If you follow me, you know it goes without saying that keeping your brain balanced with a healthy diet and regular exercise are foundational for managing your stress, especially when challenges arise. However, building resilience takes additional effort, so here are 5 things you can start practicing now:
- Use your ability to respond.
Sometimes things happen to you that are no fault of your own, and though you cannot change what occurred, you can take responsibility for what you do afterwards. This is important because it keeps you from staying in “victim mode,” especially when someone or something has threatened or harmed you. By using your ability to respond, you empower yourself.
- Identify what you can control, and what you cannot.
One way so many people elevate their stress level is by focusing—or even obsessing—about the things outside of their control. Worrying endlessly about some uncertainty sends you down the rabbit hole of fear. Instead of doing that, focus on what you can control each day, even if it’s just little things.
- Don’t weather the storm alone.
When you’re faced with something difficult, not only is it okay to reach out to others, it’s also healthier for you. The support we get from people we trust helps to bolster our resilience and reduce the chances we’ll get emotionally overwhelmed and have a hard time coping. All of us need someone to lean on at times.
- Stop catastrophizing.
When a stressful situation arises, people with a pessimistic mindset or who struggle with anxiety can’t stop thinking about the worst-case scenario. This is not helpful. If you tend to do this, it’s time to reality-check your worries by questioning your thoughts with this technique from Byron Katie that my husband, Dr. Daniel Amen, and I often write about. Ask yourself:
- Is it true?
- Is it really true, with 100% certainty?
- How do you feel when you have this fearful thought?
- How would you feel if you didn’t have this thought?
- Turn the thought around to its opposite and see if that isn’t actually truer than the original one.
- Make time for your spiritual side.
Some folks find inner strength through their connection with God or higher power, while other experience solace with meditation, yoga, or by spending time in nature. Whatever your sense of spirituality is, being regularly in touch with the peace it brings you is known to increase resilience in challenging times.
Practice Makes Progress
As with any type of personal growth, boosting your resilience requires effort. For many people it also means releasing unhelpful habits, like runaway ANTs (automatic negative thoughts), drowning your troubles in sugar or alcohol, or choosing to feel helpless in an effort to get someone to do the heavy lifting for you.
But just like you build muscle with regular exercise, being intentional about becoming more resilient to cope better with life’s stressors is so worth the everyday effort it needs. It won’t cost you a dime, but the payoff is priceless.
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If you’re struggling and need professional help, Amen Clinics is here for you. We offer in-clinic brain scanning and appointments, as well as mental telehealth, remote clinical evaluations, and video therapy for adults, children, and couples. Find out more by speaking to a specialist today at 888-288-9834 or visit our contact page here.