Building resilience is one way to protect your mental and emotional health. Olivia Brouillette from Therapy with Olivia explains how you can bounce back from difficult situations.

Resilience is about how quickly you adapt, bounce back from and cope in the face of adversity, trauma, stress, and whatever else life will throw your way. We all need resilience to survive and function. However, some people are more resilient than others, but, fortunately, it is something we can all learn and build.

Understanding resilienceFor many, becoming resilient happens over time, something which was built up from the experience of stressful or traumatic events. It’s not something you’re born with or not born with, but rather a skill that you can harness and grow over time. Some may find adversity easier to deal with than others due to factors such as a strong connection with family and friends, relationships that encourage love and growth, and a supportive community.

However, even if you feel as though you do not have the social support or external factors that help facilitate the building of resilience, you can still build the characteristics that make a person resilient. A person who has a positive attitude in the face of adversity, a person who can regulate their emotions and solve any problems that come their way.

How can you build more resilience?The most common characteristics of a resilient person are things that many of us hope we already have or can have at some point in our lives.

These characteristics include:

A positive outlook and sense of purpose Adaptability and emotional regulation Problem-solving skills Self-confidence and self-compassion Strong social connection Perseverance A sense of humour The ability to learn from experiences Realistic optimism It’s not necessary to naturally have all of these characteristics to be resilient, they can all be built and created over time.

Cultivate a positive mindsetSomething that helps people recover from stressful life events is fostering a hopeful outlook and believing in your ability to overcome challenges. By cultivating a positive mindset, you actively challenge your negative thoughts and replace them with more positive (and realistic!) perspectives. This mindset is something that you can build up through practising gratitude regularly.

Developing strong social connectionsAnother contributor to resilience is strong social connections with friends, family and community. Building these connections and creating closer relationships with others makes it easier to seek social support during difficult times. Sharing and expressing your feelings can help you overcome the event – remember, talking with someone you trust helps! 

Enhance emotional regulationEmotional regulation is the ability to identify and acknowledge your emotions without judgement. Seeing your emotions through a non-judgemental eye allows you to develop healthier coping mechanisms to manage stress and negative emotions.

Set realistic goalsThis one is beneficial for building resilience when it comes to stress. Break down large goals into smaller, more manageable tasks and celebrate those small achievements! Doing this can help fight against stress as you’re looking at smaller steps, not the bigger picture.

Build problem-solving skillsDuring high-stress events or difficult situations, seeing the problem in small, specific components can help you find practical solutions and get yourself out of the situation.

Take care of physical healthIt is advised for you to find some sort of body movement that feels best for you. With body movement, enough sleep, a balanced diet and good hydration, your body becomes physically prepared for stress.

Foster a sense of purposeYou can find a sense of purpose through identifying your values and setting meaningful goals with those values. A sense of purpose provides a solid foundation to help you navigate and overcome life’s challenges.

Cultivate self-compassionAn important aspect of being resilient is self-compassion or treating yourself with kindness and understanding. This is especially important to do when experiencing challenging events. Avoiding self-criticism and practising compassion helps you heal and bounce back from these difficult events.

Learn from past experiencesChallenges are an opportunity to learn and grow. Reflect on past experiences and extract lessons that can contribute to personal development. The more we learn, the easier it is to recover from similar experiences.

Practice mindfulness and relaxation techniquesPractising mindfulness and other relaxation techniques is a great way to cope with stress, manage your negative emotions and overcome life’s struggles. Experimenting with various techniques is essential to helping you find the one (or several) that works best for you. Try integrating them into your routine to ensure you remember to fall back on them during difficult times.

Seek professional support to build resilienceBuilding resilience can be tricky and you may need help knowing where to start. Seeking help from a mental health professional can help you address issues such as low self-esteem, loneliness and isolation, lack of social support, and other issues preventing you from becoming more resilient.

Do you want to build resilience or get help for other psychological issues? Therapy with Olivia is a private clinical psychology practice created by and for members of the LGBTQ+ community. Although this community may be their specialty, they also cater to non-LGBTQ+ expats.


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