When you experience major difficulties or trauma in your life – as so many people are in 2020 – how do you respond? Do you struggle and become overwhelmed? Do these instances negatively affect you moving forward? Or, are you able to roll with the punches, bounce back and move on with your life?

How you answer these questions largely depends on your level of emotional resilience.

Psychologists define resilience as the process of adapting well in the face of adversity, trauma, tragedy, threats or significant sources of stress. Individuals with a high level of emotional resilience often not only overcome their challenges, but they come out the other end stronger. The study of post-traumatic growth (PTG) shows that many people who are resilient experience positive personal growth and transformation as a result of going through the struggle of a major life crisis.

Fortunately, emotional resilience can be developed and strengthened throughout our lifetimes and empower us to better cope with the ups and downs that we all experience.

Building Emotional Resilience

People with a high level of emotional resilience can deal with tough times and bounce back better than others. Here’s how to strengthen your resilience.

Extensive research has found that people with a high level of resilience have certain traits in common, traits that we can all work on strengthening:

Connection & Support – Developing and prioritizing close and trusting relationships reminds us that we are not alone and that we can reach out for support. Being able to ask for help is a critical skill that can help us cope during trying times.  

Hope & Optimism – Feeling hopeful motivates you to believe in the possibility of a brighter future. Seeing the positive even in times of turmoil fosters an attitude that encourages problem-solving and helps us to see opportunities and choices for moving forward.

Meaning & Purpose – Work that feels like a vocation or a cause you care about, can bring meaning and purpose to your life. Especially during and after a crisis, doing something you love or helping others can build your self-confidence and self-worth as you tackle the challenges in your life.

Healthy Habits & A Commitment to Self-Care – As I have discussed at length in previous blogs, exercise, eating well and getting enough sleep – all have been shown to decrease stress. They build our sense of wellbeing and help us to become emotionally strong.

Self-Belief & Perseverance – Believing in your ability to make change and being willing to keep trying even when you face setbacks are essential to resilience. These qualities can allow you to face your fears and make changes that are within your control without becoming overwhelmed.

Values & Spirituality – Our moral compass guides how we view the world and determines the meaning of experiences. A strong value system helps put events into perspective and allows us to look beyond ourselves. Studies show that being part of a community of shared beliefs and values (even if they are not religious) helps individuals cope with the hardships in their lives.

Being resilient doesn’t mean that a person won’t experience difficulty or pain. But it does allow you to adapt and adjust so that a crisis won’t become the defining moment of your life. If you are interested in building emotional resilience, I am here to help. Please contact me.

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