Everyone's life will inevitably have its ups and downs, but it's how you deal with these moments of intense emotions that dictate your wellbeing. It's impossible not to feel negative emotions, but what you can do is learn how to deal with them. There are a number of simple ways to become more emotionally resilient, and they are things that you can do on your own. It does require work on your part, but you'll be much happier down the line when you're able to face whatever life throws at you with ease.
"Emotional resilience is a personality trait that enables people to handle life’s daily stresses and more serious adversities in thoughtful and effective ways," says Sue Mandel, Ph.D., LMFT over email. "When we’re emotionally resilient, we don’t get derailed by negativistic thinking, feeling out of control, or emotional disregulation. There is an inner hardiness that enables people to think, make decisions, feel their feelings, collaborate with others, consider options, utilize support, have better relationships, and ultimately become stronger because of having gone through what they did."
If you're looking to improve upon the way you react to hard situations, try these 11 interesting, easy ways to become more emotionally resilient, according to experts.
1Write In A Journal
Jotting down your feelings can have a powerful effect on your emotional wellbeing. Research from Pennsylvania State University, in State College found that people with generalized anxiety disorder improved their emotional balance after keeping a worry journal for even just 10 days. "Notice how you think about yourself as you write and what your self-talk is," says Mandel. "Deliberately write to yourself as if you were a good friend."
2Listen To Ted Talks
"Ted Talks are inspiring, engaging, and informational stories told by people from every walk of life and from every profession," says Mandel. "Listen to them while you take a walk, and you’ll be outdoors exercising at the same time. One of the remarkable things that happens when we journal or listen to powerful stories is that our brain engages in a very interpersonal way. Listening to Ted speakers and just going where it takes you is great for focus, connection, and hope."
Research published in the journal Personality and Individual Differences found that people who are mindful show a better ability to cope in difficult situations and bounce back from adversity. "Mindfulness is one of the best routes to resiliency and changing your brain’s default negative settings to positive ones," says Mandel. "It’s about paying attention, practicing self-compassion, and being non-judgmental and self-aware."
4Move Your Emotions
Physical movement can help in moving our emotions through. "Going for a walk, a run, or to the gym can get your blood moving and help alleviate the stress you feel, therefore building more emotional resilience," says Melissa Divaris Thompson, LMFT over email.
5Don't Take Things Personally
"People will say and do things that are not ideal and often hurtful, and you can reduce the hurt by not taking it personally," says relationship expert Patrick Wanis, PhD over email. "People respond based on their own issues, beliefs and programming. Repeat this sentence: “I understand that the way others choose to respond to me is about them.”
6Lean Into Your Emotions
Instead of running away from emotions like anger and sadness, allow yourself to fully feel them. "Much of the negative impact from emotional experience comes not from the emotions themselves, but rather our fear of them and consequent attempts to avoid them," says psychologist Mark E. Sharp, Ph.D. over email. "Moving into them, welcoming them, and experiencing them fully usually teaches pretty quickly that fear of them is unwarranted and that they are tolerable."
It's important not to avoid difficult feelings, but you don't want to dwell on them either. "It's also important to allow yourself 'time off' from processing difficult emotions," says Stacey Rosenfeld, Ph.D., CGP, CEDS over email. "When used in moderation, distracting can be a helpful technique that gets us through periods of distress."
8Spend Time With Others
Finding supportive and trusted relationships can help you build emotional strength. "When 'life happens,' having connections with trusted family members and friends reinforces strength to cope with life events and consider options," says psychotherapist Mayra Mendez, Ph.D., LMFT over email. "Make a conscious effort to avoid isolation by sharing thoughts and seeking feedback from others. Turning to others is a powerful resiliency builder."
Regulating your emotions can take effort and energy, so you have to take of your basic needs first to have the strength and stamina to deal with life's blows. "Get enough rest, nutrition, physical activity, and do things you enjoy on a regular basis," says Rosenfeld. "Taking care of yourself allows you to be in the best physical and mental shape to cope with anything unforeseen."
10Have A Sense Of Humor
Multiple studies show that having a good sense of humor can increase emotional resiliency. "Having a sense of humor about life leads to not getting as worked up and overwhelmed by all the stuff that happens to us on a day-to-day basis," says life coach and clinical psychologist Jac Julien over email.
11Get A Theme Song
"I am pretty certain that Rocky would not have won his fights if he didn’t have that motivating theme song to push him along," says Julien. "You can have your own theme song that you can play to motivate you and remind you of how awesome you are when you are facing a difficult time. If a theme song isn’t your thing, motivating quotes that are meaningful to you will work too. These can lift you up and get you ready to tackle the issues you are facing."