The American Psychological Association defines resilience as the process of adapting well in the face of adversity, trauma, tragedy, threats, or significant sources of stress– such as family and relationship problems, serious health problems or workplace and financial stressors. Resilience gives us the strength to face the challenges of life. It does not allow difficulties to overwhelm us.
Resilience is not a trait that is either present or absent. It is a set of behaviors, thoughts, and actions that can be learned and developed. Here are a few things you could do to build this muscle –
1. Manage your physical health – Eat well, make time for exercise, get proper sleep, and find your stress busters. With good physical health, one can harness the energy to deal with any challenge.
2. Develop self-awareness – Self-awareness is the ability to see ourselves clearly and objectively. It gives us a deeper understanding of how our feelings contribute to our actions and the courage to look for answers within ourselves to take ownership of the outcomes in our life. Some tools to build self-awareness are:
- Practicing mindfulness and meditation – Both practices can help you become more aware of your internal state and your reactions to things.
- Making time to reflect – Journaling about your day is an effective way to reflect. You can capture the antecedents, the resultant behavior, and the consequence of that behavior. It helps you discover what you want, what you value, and what works for you.
- Seek feedback- Ask your family and close friends about what they think about you. Have them describe you and see what rings true with you and what surprises you. Talk to multiple people to get a balanced view and carefully consider what they say. However, do not be overwhelmed by their opinions.
3. Cultivate self-acceptance – Self-acceptance is the ability to see and value oneself as a whole human that includes virtues and flaws. It is valuing the self regardless of accomplishment or failure. It allows us to let go of the desire to be perfect and learn from our mistakes. It teaches us how to be more compassionate, considerate, and respectful towards ourselves. Try the following approaches to develop self-acceptance:
- Practice self-compassion – When you speak to yourself, imagine you are talking to your best friend. What you say to yourself matters.
- Cultivate a growth mindset – Be aware that nothing is permanent. Learn from your setbacks rather than letting them define you. See obstacles as challenges and opportunities to grow.
- Practice unconditional acceptance of others – Allow your family, friends, and peers to make mistakes once in a while. Recognize that most people want to do their best. Be compassionate with them.
4. Find balance in life
- Manage your day by giving structure to it.
- Know your priorities and attend to them
- Beat procrastination
- Be grateful for what is good in your life
- Schedule some ‘me-time’ at regular intervals and honor it
- Devote time to your family – parents, partner, and kids
- Catch up with friends
5. Establish strong social ties – Human beings are social creatures. Feeling connected to others combats isolation, reduces stress, and makes us feel accepted and respected. Resilient people depend on their social network to help them tide through tough times. Make time for family and friends, volunteer, and contribute to your community, strike conversations with strangers, and do random acts of kindness. Not only will this make you resilient, but you will also feel good about yourself.