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Healthy Minds Healthy College

How to build resiliency

January 26, 2015

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Some people are simply more resilient than others. Whether it’s genetics or something they learned growing up, we all know of someone who takes challenges in strides, shrugs off disappointment and perseveres in the face of stress.

If you happen to be someone who is less resilient (you find yourself dwelling on problems, feeling overwhelmed or having trouble coping with stress) — know that you’re not alone. Also know that there’s good news! There are many things you can do to build your resiliency. It may take time but eventually, you can feel confident in your strengths and abilities, manage your emotions and handle stressful situations in healthy ways.

Here are our top 10 tips for building resiliency:

1. Think of stressful situations as temporary. You can’t change the fact that highly stressful events happen, but you can change how you perceive these events and the way you respond to them. Try to picture several weeks or months into the future when the stressful event or crisis has passed. Are things really that bad? In most cases, probably not.

2. Accept that change is a part of living. Things change around and within us all the time. Try to accept change will happen and focus on the ways the new circumstances could be positive.

3. Identify realistic goals. Set regular goals — even if they seem like small accomplishments. This will give you motivation to work toward bigger goals. To do this, ask yourself each day what you can accomplish today that will help you move in the general direction of where you want to go.

4. Take action. If a stressful or adverse situation occurs, don’t isolate yourself or detach from the problem and hope it goes away. Think about what you can do to make the situation better and the effective action you can take as soon as possible.

5. Learn from experience. There is potential for us to learn from every experience we go through — positive and negative. When going through a difficult time, think of how you’ve coped with hardships in the past. Try writing down what happened and how you solved a the situation. This exercise can help you identify what skills and strategies were helpful and that you should use again.

6. Keep things in perspective. Even when facing very stressful events, try to consider the stressful situation in a broader context and keep a long-term perspective. Avoid blowing the event out of proportion by reminding yourself that it will pass. Ask yourself, “Will this matter a few months or a year from now?”

7. Make every day meaningful. Do something each day that gives you a sense of purpose and accomplishment. Try setting goals in the morning right after breakfast. Doing so can help you feel motivated and productive — a great feeling at the beginning of a new day!

8. Be proactive. Don’t ignore your problems. As hard as it can be to do, addressing situations head on will help you feel much better in the end. Know that whatever the setback or difficult situation is, it will improve if you create a plan and start taking action.

9. Make social connections. Whenever you’re dealing with a problem, it is important to have people who can offer support. Talking about the challenges you are facing can be an excellent way to gain perspective, look for new solutions, express your emotions and problem solve.

10. Take care of yourself. No matter what you’re going through, it’s important to have love and respect for yourself. If you’ve made a mistake or done something wrong, don’t beat yourself up. Try and think about your past successes or situations where you’ve done the right thing. You may want to try some stress management and relaxation techniques such as a yoga or meditation class or deep breathing. At least make sure that you’re eating regular meals and getting enough sleep.

What has helped you become more resilient? Share your tips in the comment section below!