1. Practice calming yourself down.
Your brain reacts quickly when you perceive danger or threat. It moves into “fight or flight” mode, which makes it difficult to respond thoughtfully to the challenges you face. You can tell your brain everything is ok by taking deep breaths and consciously relaxing your muscles. Practicing these calming techniques regularly makes it easier to apply them when you are stressed.
2. Strengthen physical well-being.
You use mental, physical, and emotional energy to deal with challenging situations. If your physical energy is depleted, it can drain your mental and emotional energy as well. Caring for your physical body by eating well, drinking enough water, exercising, breathing deeply, and getting enough rest will increase your ability to master many kinds of challenges.
3. Nurture emotional well-being.
Emotional strength helps you deal with disruptive events. Increasing your level of self-awareness and seeking support for issues such as depression, stress, or anxiety will help you build a stronger emotional foundation.
4. Cultivate a sense of meaning and purpose.
People who feel connected to something larger than themselves are better able to sustain their energy during times of trouble. Take time to reflect on what larger picture you are part of, whether your meaning comes from family, community, faith, or some other source such as work or volunteer efforts.
5. Broaden your expectations.
The narrower and more rigid your expectations about what should happen, the more likely you are to experience disruption. See if you can loosen your mental constraints a bit, and recognize that there are many possible ways a situation might turn out. This will make it easier for you to laugh at the unexpected and figure out how to “go with the flow.”
6. Treat small challenges as practice.
Think of the world as your “resilience gym,” with each small challenge you face representing an exercise that can build your ability to deal with the unexpected. Over time, you can greatly increase your skill at dealing calmly with disruptions, setbacks, and losses.
7. Build your community.
Weathering storms is much easier when you have others to call on for practical assistance, emotional support, and useful skills and perspectives. Getting to know the people around you, finding social activities that interest you, and taking the time to reach out to friends, family, neighbors, and co-workers is the first step in creating strong connections that you can call on when needed.
8. Inspire yourself with stories of resilience.
Resilience role models are all around us. Look for examples of people who have faced significant adversity and come out stronger on the other side. You will find them in the newspaper, in books, and in the people you meet every day. As you hear these stories, you will learn more about the mindsets that are helpful in dealing with challenges, and gain confidence in your own ability to bounce back.
9. Learn how you respond to disruption.
Each person has unique predispositions when dealing with challenges. Some reach out for support, others retreat into solitude. Some move into action, others become reflective. Some become angry, some become depressed, some become hopeful. See if you can step back and objectively observe what you do when you encounter problems. Pay attention to what works well and what doesn’t. Then, over time, you can try different responses to strengthen your effectiveness.
10. Ask others for feedback.
Sometimes others can help us see ourselves more clearly than we could do alone. Think about finding one or two people who know you well, and asking them for any insights they can share on how you typically respond when your expectations are disrupted, and for examples of times when you have responded more or less effectively. You may be able to identify patterns that are worth further exploration.
For a more expansive guide to building your resilience, check out Linda’s latest book, “Prosilience: Building Your Resilience for a Turbulent World.”