How do you bounce back after a stressful event? Do you shake it off and start looking for solutions? Or do you feel like you want to give up and stay in bed until it passes? Life can be challenging, and managing stressful events like suffering a loss, dealing with COVID, and other events come when we least expect. But luckily, we can learn how to handle these situations with more stride instead of losing our cool. Discovering how to build emotional resilience is key to bouncing back from any stressor, whether it’s small or big.
What is ‘Emotional Resilience’?
We all experience stressful life moments; experiencing a failed relationship, losing a job, or fighting with a close friend, to name a few. As a result, these moments test our confidence, willpower, and our ability to bounce back. This bouncing back refers to emotional resilience. It’s how we recover, cope, and move forward after a stressful event.
Why Is Emotional Resilience Important?
Emotional resilience is the very thing that helps you overcome day-to-day stressors. Highly resilient people can roll with the punches easier and recover without facing major disruptions to their functioning. Those with less resilience, however, face several challenges. For example, their stress can become so intense that it prevents them from moving forward and managing their daily responsibilities. It can also lead to health problems like fatigue, insomnia, headaches, stomach issues, to name a few.
If you struggle with resilience, don’t worry. Here are nine ways to help you overcome tough times.
How to Build Emotional Resilience: 9 Tips
1. Be kind to yourself
If you’re having a difficult time overcoming a stressful event, it’s okay to take time to sit with it and do nothing. In fact, staying in bed, eating your favorite go-to comfort meal, and binging Netflix can help you recharge, and heal. But try not let your negative thoughts or anger consume you. Sprinkle forgiveness, compassion, and self-love even through your tiring days. If you managed to get out outside for a walk, be proud of that and congratulate yourself. In these moments, proceeding with love and kindness is key to building your emotional resiliency.
2. Adopt a growth mindset
The outcome you’re experiencing may not be the one you want, but if you step back, what can you learn from it? What is it trying to teach you? By experiencing trial and error, you learn to grow from your mistakes and become more resilient. It makes you stronger and gives you a new toolkit of skills you can apply to the next challenge. Instead of surrendering to the discomfort, embrace the positive side of failure – growth.
3. Get comfortable with discomfort
It feels good to stay within your comfort zone. It protects you and keeps you safe because it’s fail-proof. But it doesn’t provide anything beyond that. It’s normal to feel unsure of yourself and question your skillset. We all do this. But if we let our fears control us, we will never grow or obtain our goals. Alternatively, if you practice believing discomfort is okay at times, you will feel more capable of overcoming the stress. Practice believing in yourself and your ability to soar.
4. Remove any stressors
Instead of allowing clouds to weather more stress, evaluate your life and determine if you can remove anything causing you more stress. For example, are there any relationships making it more difficult for you to bounce back? Or a habit that isn’t helping you reach your goals? Use this time to gain back some control over your life, set boundaries, and remove anything that isn’t making you feel great about yourself.
5. Practice self-awareness
Instead of trying to forget about the situation, which can only make things worse, learn from it by revisiting your A-B-Cs;
- A is the antecedent or the cause of the stressful event. What created my stress?
- B is the behavior of how we choose to respond to it. How did I respond?
- C is the consequence that our actions and emotions bring. What happened after my reaction?
Identifying the A-B-Cs of your stressful encounter will help you understand how to respond differently and how to build resiliency for future situations.
6. Let go of some control
When faced with a difficult life event, it feels easier to resist change and control the outcome. But unfortunately, you can only control how you respond. Our ego, fixed beliefs, societal expectations, and habits are a few ways that make letting go or going with the flow feel impossible. And while it’s heartbreaking and even soul-crushing to experience a stressful situation, sometimes the best way forward is to acknowledge what happened and allow yourself to feel what you’re experiencing.
7. Practice changing your self-talk
When you are stressed or overwhelmed, remove yourself from the situation, and take a moment to de-stress. Go for a quick walk, breathe, squeeze a stress ball – anything to calm your mind. Once you feel better, observe your self-talk and investigate your thinking;
- Personalization. Do I believe I am the cause for something bad happening before I even have any evidence?
- Black and white thinking. Am I seeing everything as either good or bad instead of finding a middle ground?
- Shoulds and musts. Am I placing high expectations on myself and criticizing myself for not fulfilling them?
- Catastrophizing. Am I imagining the worst-case scenario and running with it?
Learning how to understand your thoughts gives you powerful information to move forward.
8. Fake it until you make it
Who do you admire? What do they do that inspires you to be your best? Imagine what they might do in the same situation. Experiencing a traumatic or stressful life event can make you feel defeated, broken, and not at all emotionally resilient. When you feel this way, think of that friend or person that inspires you. In fact, often the key to their ability to bounce back is their belief system. Try seeing the world through their eyes to receive more ideas and a different perspective to regain your strength.
9. It’s okay to seek help
If the stress you’re facing is becoming too unbearable to manage, seek help through therapy. A therapist can help you gain control over your thoughts, manage your emotions, and bounce back quicker. Learning how to build your resilience is a skill you can master. Above all, don’t give up hope, and remember, no matter what happens, you got this!
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