We all know someone who seems to be able to tackle life’s challenges with a much more level headed than most. But why is that? Well, psychologists call it emotional resilience (or mental resilience). And the good news is — research shows you can learn it!
What is Emotional Resilience?
Emotional resilience, or mental resilience, is the ability a person has to handle stress in the face of adversity. It’s their ability to “bounce back” or adapt during challenging circumstances, both big and small.1
Sometimes, this may involve adapting to huge life events — like death, divorce, or losing a job. But it may also involve smaller, daily events and stressors.
Some call it mental toughness, but it’s less about being tough and more about being flexible.
Think of it in physical terms. A resilient building is one that “rolls with the punches.” It bounces back from stressors, like earthquakes or storms, with strength and flexibility.2
How Can It Help Your Health?
Coping with stressful events in a positive way can have all sorts of mental and physical health benefits. This is because chronic stress has been linked to many chronic health conditions.
Mental resilience may help to protect you from:
- Various mental health conditions, like depression or anxiety
- High blood pressure
- A weakened immune system
- Digestive issues
And, mental resilience is even associated with increased longevity.3
How To Be More Resilient
Our bodies are born to be incredibly resilient. But the same can’t always be said about our minds. Our outlook on life, and how we handle things, is influenced by many things, and many people, as we grow up.
If you’d like to boost your own emotional resilience, it’s never too late. Developing resilience is possible at any age. It may not be easy – it will take a little discipline and willpower – but the results will be well worth it.
Eight Key Resilience Techniques
Developing resilience is an essential step for your mental health and longevity. Challenging circumstances and stressful events will happen.
So, knowing how to take them on is key. Here are eight ways to develop better emotional resilience.
1. Practice Assertiveness
When you speak your mind and are true to your needs, you’ll be confident and happy. Not being able to stand up to others, or say “no,” can cause a great deal of anxiety and stress.
2. Strike a Balance
Work stress can easily seep into your personal life. So, it’s important to keep a good balance between the two.
Make sure to leave enough time in your life for the things that bring you the most joy (friends, family, and hobbies). These are the things that will prevent stressors in life from taking over.
3. Practice Relaxation
Mental toughness and relaxation may sound like polar opposites. But they work in perfect harmony to keep you balanced.
Whether it’s meditation, yoga, long walks, or hot baths… find the things that center you. Schedule them into your week. Relaxation is not a luxury, it’s essential for your mental health and well-being.
4. Boost Your Physical Health
Your physical health plays a huge part in your mental health outlook. Exercise, diet, and sleep are key components of physical longevity, but they also feed your mind. You can’t have a strong mind when you’re tired and undernourished. And the endorphins from exercise calm stress and trigger positive feelings.
5. Nurture Friendships
When life gets you down, knowing you have a caring network can help you feel less isolated. Life isn’t meant to be lived alone. Having a community you can turn to in hard times can make you feel supported and loved. Always tend to these important relationships, even when life gets busy.
6. Be Kinder To Yourself
It’s easy to blame yourself when things go wrong. But putting added pressure on yourself only increases stress. Forgive yourself when you make mistakes (you’re only human). Reward yourself for your achievements (even the small things). And treat yourself with time away from your usual routine to break the monotony.
7. Keep Doing Things That Scare You
This doesn’t mean you need to jump out of a plane! Often, the things that scare us most center around failure. Resilience involves learning to conquer challenges. What brings you anxiety? Public speaking? Sending your secret poetry to a publisher? Producing your own event? Perhaps it’s time to try!
8. Practice Optimism
Thinking positively can be hard in stressful times. Try to find ways in your daily life to look at the glass as half full instead of half empty. It’s a very healthy long-term practice.4
Finally, consider talking to a professional if you’re not feeling 100 percent. They’ll be able to offer advice and guidance to help you through difficult periods. Your mental health is just as important as your physical health.
You Can’t Avoid Stressful Events
Some stressful events are big incidents that would throw anyone off course. Others are the kind where your own perspective may have turned a molehill into a mountain. But emotional resilience is the secret to getting through either.
You can’t know what life will throw at you. But emotional resilience can help you to roll and float (rather than crack) under pressure.
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