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How to develop emotional resilience

How to develop emotional resilience

Life is stressful. It’s full of ups and downs. Joy and misery. Wins and losses. Sometimes life is fun and easy, other times it’s painful and challenging. We all know how to deal with the good stuff, but how do you cope with the bad? Some people bounce back from life’s stresses with relative ease, while others just can’t seem to overcome those dark times. It’s all about emotional resilience.

Emotional resilience is the ability to stay calm in the face of a difficult or negative event, to keep the sails steady and weather the storm. Emotionally resilient people don’t let a crisis ruin or unravel them. They can see the darkness is just temporary and have the strength to push through it. 

Of course, not everyone is made this way. If you’re emotionally sensitive or struggle with anxiety or depression, emotional resilience can seem like a concept out of your grasp. While some people are born with this trait, emotional resilience can be learned. You won’t develop the skill overnight but you can cultivate it over time. Here are some four things to focus on in your journey toward emotional resiliency: 

Practice your breathing. In a stressful situation, your mind might be a jumble of thoughts and worries. You may even feeling it physically — heart racing, sweating, light-headed, nauseated, etc. The simplest way to calm and collect yourself, inside and out, is to focus on your breathing. One common method is to inhale while counting to four, hold your breath for a count of four, and exhale for a count of four. Concentrate on slow and purposeful breaths to keep your cool.

Tune into yourself. Emotional resilience requires self-awareness — an understanding of your beliefs, perceptions, feelings and behaviors. These things can affect how we feel and act in stressful situations so if we’re aware of how we’ll respond, it’s easier to try to adjust your behaviors. Self-awareness can also help us see below the surface and recognize unresolved issues and chronic problems that continue to cause stress in our lives.

Banish negative thoughts. Is there a self-talk script you go to when things are bad? Negative things you tell yourself in times of stress or crisis. Stop beating yourself up and practice self-compassion. Be kind to yourself in difficult times. Remind yourself that you are strong and capable and stop beating yourself up over past mistakes or things you can’t control.  

Foster personal relationships. A strong support system can be an important part of emotional resilience. Emotional resilience helps us build good relationships and, in turn, those relationships help us get through difficult events. 

Developing emotional resiliency isn’t easy. We’re not all equally equipped to deal with stress and crisis. If the hard times are especially hard on you, you’re not alone and you can learn to cope better in the future. Seeking help from a counsellor or spiritual advisor can help jump start your journey.