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What doesn’t kill you makes you stronger. It’s an inspirational saying, but sometimes life doesn’t feel like that. It can be hard to get up when life knocks you down, especially if a challenging experience is recent or ongoing. But it is possible to learn to deal with difficult experiences and use them to make your life better.
Resilience is a person’s ability to bounce back from difficult experiences. We often say that people are resilient when they have survived a lot and still maintain ambition, a strong work ethic, or deep empathy for others. Resilience is the quality that allows people to take on challenges and become stronger because of it. Mental health resources like BetterHelp can help you increase your resilience.
What makes a person resilient?
While genetics and family circumstances influence a person’s resilience, scientists generally believe that resilience is not a fixed trait. Instead, it is something that every person can develop.
Resilience develops as people respond to traumatic events and difficult situations. It can depend on a number of factors, including the stressors present, a person’s environment, and the processes through which they deal with difficult circumstances.
It is possible to learn resilience by developing thought and behavioral patterns that will allow you to deal with challenges when they arise.
How to Become More Resilient
Take Care of Your Mental Health
Your mental health will necessarily affect how you respond to challenging situations. For example, if you are already doing poorly, it will be more challenging to respond to external stressors. This combination of circumstances can even cause a breakdown or a situation where you collapse under pressure.
One way to increase your resilience is to create solid habits and resources for taking care of your mental health. Developing these habits will increase your ability to deal with additional stressors and give you tools to help you respond.
Pay Attention to Your Physical Health
Although it may not seem like it, your physical health can significantly impact your mental health. Doing things to care for your physical fitness like eating healthy, exercising, and getting enough sleep can also help improve your mental health.
If you want to increase your resilience, it’s a good idea to build habits that help you care for your physical health. When you are dealing with a mentally taxing situation, it can be easy to let your physical health fall to the wayside. This, in turn, will be detrimental to your mental health, making a bad situation even worse. If you already have solid and healthy habits in place, it will be much easier to take care of your body and brain when you are struggling.
When dealing with a difficult situation, our first instinct is often to isolate ourselves. We may feel ashamed or guilty about the problem we are facing. We may be worried about burdening someone else with our problems or seeming weak. While keeping to yourself may feel like the easiest thing to do, it won’t be helpful in the long run.
Even when it feels difficult, try reaching out to others. Connect with close friends and family members, and let them know what is going on. While they may not always be able to help you, they will often try to support you in whatever way they can. Staying connected to your loved ones can help you remember that you don’t have to deal with difficult situations alone. Your support system can help you process difficult emotions, solve problems, and grow stronger in hard times.
Make Space for Your Emotions
It is often tempting to push your feelings away when dealing with difficult emotions. We believe that if we just ignore an emotion, it will eventually go away. While this may be true for some time, this behavior is not healthy in the long run. To process and move through complex emotions, you must allow yourself to feel them to their full extent.
To become more resilient, make a habit of allowing yourself to experience your emotions fully. Even if a feeling feels like an overreaction or the wrong response to something, don’t try to push it away. You don’t have to act on it if it’s inappropriate, but allow yourself to experience the full depth of feeling. You’ll find that this makes it easier to let go of the emotion instead of becoming stuck in it in the long term.
Try to Appreciate the Positives
If a situation is truly devastating, this is much easier said than done. If you or the people around you are suffering, it can seem wrong to experience joy in any way. However, appreciating the positive things in even the darkest of situations is a necessary component of resilience. It allows us to have hope when everything seems hopeless and muster the motivation to keep going.
Creating habits of gratitude and appreciating simple pleasures in life can help you increase your resilience. These habits will train your brain to notice the positives in every situation, making it easier for you to be optimistic in a hard time. This doesn’t mean you have to fake happiness when you don’t feel it. Sometimes it’s enough just to notice one positive thing in your day.
Take Things One Day at a Time
A significant component of resilience is the ability to respond well under pressure. Sometimes when you are under a lot of stress, it can seem difficult to see the way out of a situation. You may be too deep into the situation to fully understand it or be stuck in your own thought patterns.
If you find yourself in this type of situation, the most important thing is to keep moving forward. You can’t always see the way ahead in the long run, but you can always figure out one step to take in the right direction. You may make mistakes, but as long as you keep trying to move forward, you will be able to grow stronger from situations of adversity.
Marie Miguel has been a writing and research expert for nearly a decade, covering a variety of health-related topics. Currently, she is contributing to the expansion and growth of a free online mental health resource with BetterHelp.com. With an interest and dedication to addressing stigmas associated with mental health, she continues to specifically target subjects related to anxiety and depression.