10 Ways to Learn Resilience 

10 Ways to Learn Resilience 

May is Mental Health Awareness Month and a perfect time to talk about resilience and ways we can build more resilience within. First, let’s talk about what we mean by “resilience.”

What is resilience?

Resilience is the process of adapting well in the face of adversity, trauma, threats, or other significant sources of stress, according to the American Psychological Association. It can be a helpful coping mechanism when faced with uncomfortable or difficult situations. It is also helpful for anxiety or depression sufferers as they navigate many of life’s ups and downs.

Resilience is the ability to not get overcome with anger, sadness, or frustration when faced with a challenging situation. For example, you get in a fender bender while driving home from work and you approach the situation calmly and collected rather than losing your cool. Yes, it is a frustrating and anger-inducing situation, but because you have built resilience to uncomfortable situations you can approach this challenge with a calm attitude and a different perspective.

Resilience is not something we are born with, but it is something that everyone can learn and develop over time. At Whole Journey, our counselors and therapists regularly work with clients on ways they can develop resilience so they are better able to face stressful circumstances. Here are some of the strategies we suggest to clients:

How can you build resilience? 

1.) Change Your Perspective— It can be so easy to jump to the “worst-case scenario” or find yourself in full-on panic mode in the face of a potential crisis. But, a change of perspective can do wonders for your mood, mental health, and your ability to find calm. Rather than focusing on the crisis itself, ask yourself what some of the positives might be? Going back to our fender bender situation, you might think “thank goodness no one got hurt.” Or, you might simply acknowledge that the situation is out of your control so it does you no good to get worked up about it. Pay attention to the way you feel internally as you face a crisis, are you feeling stronger as you tackle each step? What are you learning about yourself?

resilience change perspective

2.) Accept Change as Part of Life — Changes are going to happen and many of those changes will be out of your control. You will get older. Your children will get older. Your physical capabilities will change. Your health may change. Your family situation might change. Nothing stays the same forever. Try to be flexible to change and make the most out of situations. You might not be able to run a marathon, but you can still go watch and cheer others on. Have an open mind on what is yet to come. Understand that your life goals may change over time and some may become unattainable. Learning to accept circumstances that are out of your control can be a huge tool in fostering resilience.

3.) Embrace Connection and Emotional Support — We are all human and one thing is for sure, even the most introverted people thrive on connection. We feel our best when we are supported by others in our life whether they be friends, family, coworkers, or community members. The better connected we are with others, the more resilient we are in the face of struggle and the better our overall mental health. Accept help and support from those who care about you, be active in organizations that have meaning to you, and assist others in times of need.

4.) Don’t Ignore Problems — It is so tempting sometimes to take the perceived “easy way out” by ignoring problems as they happen and hoping they go away on their own. But, they often don’t go away on their own, and they can get bigger the longer they are left. Instead, take decisive action as much as you are able. Address problems before they become too big to handle.

5.) Take Small Steps to Achieve Goals — There is so much in life we have no control over and yet there is so much we do. If there is something you are aiming for, a goal that is important to you, determine some small action steps you can take each day to get you there. This will help you to feel more in control of your future and give you a focus point. For example, if you are trying to buy a house, put a few dollars away each day into a savings account. Or, if you want a dream job, make a point to read something related to that job each day.

6.) Practice Self-Reflection — You will change as a person as you face various life challenges. It is inevitable. Take the time to notice those changes and acknowledge how far you have come. The things that used to set you over the edge might feel insignificant to you now. As you work through trauma or personal challenges, you will likely discover you are stronger and more confident. Many people who have faced negative life experiences later report increased self-worth, greater appreciation for life, more personal strength, and better relationships, according to the American Psychological Association.


7.) Trust in Yourself — Your body and your mind are smarter than you give them credit. Learn to trust in your instincts. Listen. Build confidence in yourself by looking at your positives.

8.) Try to Keep a Level-Head — Do everything you can to try to keep your calm in situations. Try to keep things in perspective and avoid blowing things out of proportion. Yes, it sucks that you didn’t get the job you wanted but maybe there will be another, better opportunity instead. Look at stressful situations in a broader context.

9.) Maintain Hope — Hope can go a long way in building resilience. It can be easy to let fear take over — fear of missing an opportunity, fear of the future, etc. But, the more optimism you carry with you in life, the better things tend to turn out. Negative things are always going to happen to you. You can’t avoid them, but if you remain positive and have hope for what is yet to come, things won’t seem so bad.

10.) Self-Care, Self-Care, Self-Care! — You must care for yourself. If you don’t care for yourself, you will lose energy, hope, perspective, and the ability to care for others. Make time to enjoy the activities you find pleasurable. Recharge, refuel and rest when needed. Learn to let it go and relax. Understand it is ok to say “no” to doing things you do not enjoy.

How can you get help learning resilience?

Building resilience takes time. It grows within you as you face stressful situations and tackle them with greater confidence.

If you struggle with approaching stressful, challenging situations and want to work on learning more resilience, the counselors and therapists at Whole Journey can help you navigate life’s changes.

Ready to begin counseling in Virginia?

Whole Journey works with clients throughout the state of Virginia and North Carolina via our online and telehealth counseling platforms. We have office locations in Chesapeake, Richmond, and Charlotte. Our counselors are professionally trained in helping people to live healthier, happier lives. We want to see you thrive. Call our office at 757-296-0800 to schedule an appointment.