How To Feel More Emotionally Resilient Every Day
Being emotionally resilient doesn't mean you never have problems, or that you're magically immune to stress. Instead, it's a skill you can build up over time, by learning how to look at the world differently, challenging negative thoughts, and replacing them with healthier coping mechanisms. So even if you don't feel emotionally resilient right now, it's definitely something you can work on.
Being more resilient can come in handy when life throws tough situations your way, whenever you need to step outside your comfort zone, or when the people around you are being negative. It's all about coping, and taking good care of yourself.
"Being emotionally or psychologically resilient reflects our ability to cope with life's many stressors, roadblocks, and changes," Dr. Jeff Nalin, PsyD, licensed clinical psychologist, tells Bustle. It also means meeting these moments with a positive frame of mind, and knowing you can get through them.
"Emotionally resilient people have a high level of acceptance and even welcome change," Dr. Nalin says. "They tend to grow stronger because of the challenges they face and seek to turn negative experiences into positive ones." If that sounds like something you'd like to learn how to do, read on for a few tips for feeling more emotionally resilient every day, according to experts.
1. Sit With Difficult Emotions
It can be tempting to brush away difficult emotions the moment they occur, maybe by reaching for some form of distraction. But to build up your resilience, try sitting with these thoughts for a while instead, just to prove to yourself you can do it.
"It is very important to know that you are able to tolerate difficult emotions and see that you can, in fact, get through them," Nicole Issa, PsyD, licensed psychologist, tells Bustle. "Learning to tolerate distress without distraction will help you develop confidence in your ability to manage difficult emotions."
2. Laugh It Off
While you can't laugh off every negative moment in life, if things aren't going your way, it can help to look for the humor in the situation.
"Humor has been known to be one of the healthiest defense mechanisms, or ways of coping," Dr. Issa says. "The key here is not to laugh at the situation or dismiss it with humor, but rather to temper the difficult emotions you are experiencing and coping with some much-needed levity."
3. Practice Failing
"It’s a natural tendency to gravitate towards activities that cater to our strengths," licensed clinical psychologist Dr. Kristin Bianchi, tells Bustle. "When we selectively engage in those activities, however, we often come to see our capabilities as being limited."
Recognizing that you're capable of stepping outside your comfort zone — and surviving any potential embarrassments or failures that occur as a result — will help make you more resilient.
4. Give Yourself More Credit
"Give yourself credit where credit is due," Dr. Issa says. "If you have overcome adversity in the past, then give yourself credit for this. Reflect on the specific ways you handled the situation and were able to get ahead of it instead of getting stuck in it."
By acknowledging what you've been through, you'll see how emotionally resilient you already are. And, you'll feel more confident in the future, the next time a difficult moment arises.
5. Take Great Care Of Yourself
In order to have the stamina and overall wellbeing necessary for coping with life's ups and downs, remember to take good care of yourself.
"Do things on a regular basis to bring your baseline level of anxiety and emotional reactivity down, such as practicing good self-care with healthy sleep habits, eating, and exercise," Dr. Issa says. "If you were not born with a biological predisposition [...] to roll with the punches, engaging in regular self-care can help you compensate for this by bringing your baseline level of reactivity down."
6. Challenge Negative Thoughts
The next time a negative thought pops into your head — such as "I can't handle this" or "This is too much for me" — challenge it immediately, before it leaves you feeling unable to cope, Dr. Issa says.
"Learn how to challenge these thoughts with evidence that you have handled things in the past or recognize that the worst case scenario likely will not occur, and replace these problematic thoughts with more accurate and adaptive ones."
7. Memorize A Few Coping Statements
To help ease yourself through tough times, it can help to keep a store of "coping statements" tucked in the back of your brain, so you can repeat them to yourself whenever necessary.
These should be things "that remind you of your ability to persevere," Dr. Bianchi says. Think along the lines of "I've been through tough times before, so I know I can get through this." And let that be your mantra.
"What we say to ourselves when we’re upset or under stress is important, as it has a direct impact on our mood and sense of agency," Dr. Bianchi says. "Self-statements like [this one] can also remind us of the values (e.g., courage, strength, grace) that we want to use to shape our courses of action when responding to a stressor."
8. Practice Acceptance
When negative things are happening outside your control — and you're feeling really upset or stressed as a result — try letting a wave of acceptance wash over you.
"If you are able to practice acceptance and not necessarily condone or warmly welcome the change, but acknowledge the reality of it, then you will be less likely to get trapped in a cycle of nonacceptance and suffering," Dr. Issa says, "and instead can focus on moving forward by using some coping skills."
9. Try "Positive Reframing"
"Positive reframing is not pretending everything is fine when it isn’t, or stopping yourself from experiencing negative or painful thoughts and emotions," psychotherapist Jenny Maenpaa, LCSW, EdM, tells Bustle. "It's a mindset shift that allows you to rewrite the unconscious narrative you have come to accept about yourself."
Basically, it's taking a negative way of looking at everyday situations, and reframing them in a more positive light, without being harsh or blaming yourself.
"Positive reframing looks at a situation and rather than assigning blame or judgment, simply makes observations about what has happened and what it might mean if it is used constructively for the future," Maenpaa says.
10. Create A Support Network
Being resilient definitely doesn't mean going at it alone. "Emotionally resilient people tend to have sources of emotional support in their lives and they rely on such support for help, especially when a second, third, and fourth perspective can be most helpful," Dr. Issa says.
This might mean creating a support network of friends, a partner, family members, or even a therapist, so you always have someone to turn to.
11. Take A Deep Breath
Deep breathing, such as the "box breathing" technique, is something you can do any time you're feeling overwhelmed.
To try it, take a deep breath for four counts, hold for four counts, exhale for four counts, and hold for another four, wellness coach Tiffany Toombs, tells Bustle. "When something negative in the day happens, take a minute to complete at least four rounds of this breathing technique to regain focus and perspective. This will allow you to respond instead of react."
Remember, emotional resiliency isn't about avoiding stress at all costs, or never having problems, but instead learning how to cope with it all in a healthier way.