Resilience refers to the ability to successfully adapt to stressors, maintaining psychological well-being in the face of adversity. It’s the ability to “bounce back” from difficult experiences. Resilience is not a trait that people either have or don’t have. It involves behaviors, thoughts, and actions that can be learned and developed in everyone.

Resilience is about being adaptable. It’s about being flexible. It’s about recognizing that we’ve got strengths that perhaps we never knew we had until we have to use them. And like many things in life - the more we practice, the more we learn. The more we find out about resilience and certainly the more we do of it, then the more resilient we become.

Resilient people are able to adapt to stress, crises, and trauma. They find ways to bounce back from the ups and downs of life and move forward. Some people are born with a strong sense of resilience. Others may need to learn skills and develop resilience. If you would like to become more resilient, these tips and information can help. Remember that resilience is a skill, like riding a bike. The more you practice, the better you’ll be.

Ways to become more resilient:
Resilience isn’t about “toughing it out” or reacting to every setback with a smile. Resilient people still feel sad, angry, or frustrated when faced with a setback. But they find ways to move forward, to tackle challenges with creativity, hope, and a positive attitude

Here are some ways to increase your resilience:

  • Maintain a sense of perspective. Ask yourself, “How big is this problem really?” and “What do I need to do?” Remember not to blow things out of proportion or catastrophize, remind yourself of the good in your life and that things really will change
  • Recognize that you have a choice in how you handle challenges. You can’t control what happens to you, but you can choose how you respond. You can choose to react to changes and problems with hope and a positive attitude.
  • Accept change. Change and uncertainty are part of life. When you accept this, you’ll be better able to react to change with flexibility.
  • Anticipate challenges by focusing on the positive ways in which you can meet them rather than possible negative outcomes. This will help you feel more in control and less overwhelmed.
  • Learn how to calm yourself. When you feel yourself reacting to a challenge with escalating stress and anxiety, take steps to calm yourself (deep breathing, replacing negative thoughts).
  • Overcome your fear. All of us feel fear, especially when we’re faced with a change. But fear can hold us back from new experiences and opportunities for growth. If you are faced with a challenge that feels scary or overwhelming, start with the simplest thing you can do that takes you in the direction you want to go. Ask yourself, “What’s the smallest thing I can do to get started?” Once you’ve thought about it, do it.
  • Let go of your anger. A difficult challenge can cause us to feel angry and upset. These feelings are normal, but they won’t help us move forward. Work through your anger and try to let go of negative feelings by writing about them or talking with a trusted friend.
  • Take action. Avoid dwelling on problems. Focus on solutions instead. Figure out what you can do and then do it, one step at a time.
  • Laugh. Even when things seem to be falling apart around you, try to find time to smile and laugh. It’s very healing and it will help you forget your worries for a few moments. Rent a movie that makes you laugh or spend time with a friend with a good sense of humor.
[This is a mobile copy of What is Resilience?]