Toolkit: 16 Ways to Build, Grow and Boost Resilience in Everyday Life

professional development
Reading Time: 5 minutes

Why is it that some people can immediately bounce back after being hit by life’s problems, while others find it hard to pick themselves up off the floor?

Whether we’re faced with small setbacks, like being passed up for a promotion, or extremely threatening situations like growing up in an abusive household, living in poverty, or being hit by a natural disaster, some people can live full and productive lives, while others continue to struggle. Often times people become stuck, many fall into a sense of victimhood, or perhaps spiral into mental illness like depression or PTSD.

After we catch a glimpse of a life beyond our internal struggles, it may be difficult to maintain a sense of purpose. We know a better sense of being is out there, it’s just difficult to find the tools to move forward. How does one develop your own personal levels of resilience?

Here are 16 ways to capture and retain resilience in your everyday life:

1. Practice Thought Awareness:

Without realizing it, we can say some negative things to ourselves on a daily basis. If you “listen” to how you talk to yourself when something goes wrong – you may find yourself replaying the same old negative thought pattern repeatedly. If you see that you’re making negative statements that are permanent, pervasive or personalized, instantly correct these thoughts in your mind to positive or at least neutral ones. Resilient people don’t let negative thoughts derail their efforts, instead they recognize these thoughts as they come up, and try to re-frame the situation in their minds to be something constructive that can be worked with.


2. Get Quality Sleep – Make it a Priority:

The less sleep you have, the less you’re able to control your stress levels. It’s important to get a solid 7-8 hours of sleep each night, depending on your natural sleep cycle. If you’re struggling getting or staying asleep due to stress, anxiety or worry, try natural remedies like magnesium or melatonin before relying on sleeping tablets. Sleeping tablets often have an opposite effect and can directly influence your sleep cycles, making it harder for you to achieve a good amount of restorative sleep you need to function at full capacity.


3. Create Small, Attainable Goals:

It may feel daunting having a giant goal over your head. Instead of focusing on the big picture all the time, it’s easier to achieve things in smaller increments. These are called minor success loops (attainable goals that feel easier to accomplish), and keep your mindset in a stage of successful progression (ie: you’re moving forwards and succeeding). Eventually, you’ll reach the big goal with smaller, achievable steps in the right direction.


4. Recognise and Acknowledge Your Strengths:

Everyone has personal strengths, but often we spend more time focusing on our weaknesses and what we’re lacking versus what we do well. Examples of great qualitative strengths to have are: enthusiasm, trustworthiness, creativity, determination, patience, kindness, dedication, honesty, flexibility and respectfulness. Instead of obsessing about what is lacking in your life, write down a list of your top 5 strengths, and keep it handy (perhaps in your top drawer, or next to your mirror). If you’re struggling with creating the list, ask a few people close to you what they would consider your strengths are.


5. Move Your Body:

Exercise, go for a walk, dance, run, play outside. It may sound simple but moving your body is great for your mind. Moving not only improves cardiovascular health, it improves cerebrovascular health, making for a healthier heart and mind. A wide range of recent studies have found that exercise improves brain function, structure, and connectivity. These brain improvements are directly linked to improved learning, memory, and cognitive function. Simply moving your body increases serotonin levels too, making even the worst of days a little more bearable.


6. Create a List of Your Past Wins:

What are some of the things you’ve accomplished in your past? What skills have those things given you that are applicable to moving forward? Write a list of your top 5 skills that you’ve received from your past achievements. What are your top achievements so far, and what skills have reaching those achievements given you? Now consider how these skills are beneficial to help you with anything you face in future.


7. Gain Perspective:

Look at the larger picture to gain perspective on our lives current troubles. Often, we get caught in our own bubble and some perspective reminds us what is important and what is not. It helps us recognize that we probably don’t need to dwell on one bad grade for too long, or wallow for months on end about a relationship that we knew wouldn’t work out in the first place. Creating a mindset for ourselves helps us move on, to not sweat the small stuff (as it is always changing!), and we may start to recognize that the bigger, life-altering problems are still looming in the background.


8. Connect to Your Meaning:

Why are you really doing what you’re doing? What’s the ultimate reason why what you’re doing feels good to you? For example, lawyers can be in incredibly stressful positions in the courtroom, making decisions about someone’s potential life. There is a lot riding on them and their choices. However, when asked about the best part of their jobs, an overwhelming amount also have said what they enjoy most about their profession is that they’re able to help people when they’re really in a crisis. Ask yourself – what meaning do I get from this work? What’s the best part about my profession?


9. Take Decisive Action:

After you realize your final goal, what’s the next definitive step to take? Write it down and then do it. It’s easy to get overwhelmed with everything that needs to be done. Your mind can go haywire and procrastination can set in. One of the best ways to move forward is to quiet your mind, and ask yourself what is the next best step to take. The act of writing it down and then crossing it off provides a visible goal. You’ll find once you have done the next step, it’s easier to do the next one and the next.


10. Get Outside:

Stressed and feeling tense? Head for the trees. One study found that students that were sent into the forest on assignment for two nights had lower levels of cortisol — a hormone often used as a marker for stress — than those who spent that same amount of time in the city. In another study, researchers found a decrease in both heart rate and cortisol levels in subjects that were in the forest when compared to those in the city. “Stressful states can be relieved by forest therapy,” research scientists concluded.


11. Build Relationships and Support from Those Around You:

It’s okay to ask for help. Often people can feel they’re being burdensome if they’re asking help from friends and family, but it’s usually the exact thing that can provide near instant relief. You know that old saying, a problem shared is a problem halved? Ask someone close to you for a hand with something you’re struggling with. Even reaching out and voicing your issues to someone trustworthy can help immensely.


12. Focus on What You’re Able to Control:

Anxiety and stress can often come from feeling that things are out of our control. To help remedy this, write down a list of things you can control about your current situation, and a list of things you can’t. Focus only on what you can, and set about improving those. For instance, your breathing.


13. Take Time Out for Self-Care:

Self-care is not a reward, it’s an important part of the process. When we’re stressed, self-care is usually the first thing to go, and that makes things worse. As fluffy and indulgent as the phrase “self-care” may sound, it’s just a few basic habits that are crucial to your functioning. If you need a bubble bath, go for it. Indulge in a little chocolate, or go for a walk. We cannot take care of others to the best of our abilities if we can’t take care of ourselves first.


14. Pause and Take Note of Healthy and Unhealthy Situations:

Try to move out of situations that aren’t good for you. This can be tricky when other people are involved, but if you believe that your time and energy are your most important asset – you’ll then be able to better assess what is healthy for you, and what ultimately is not.


15. Adopt a Growth Mindset:

What we think and how we think fuel our behaviour and predict our success. Stanford psychologist Carol Dweck coined the term for the two mindsets, ‘Fixed Mindset’ and ‘Growth Mindset’. If a person has a ‘fixed mindset’, they believe that their gifts, intelligence, character and creativity are traits fixed from birth, and that the affirmation of these traits is a success. If someone has a fixed mindset, they must always strive for success, and avoid failure at all costs.

A person with a ‘growth mindset’ on the other hand, seeks challenges and believes that failure is not proof of unintelligence, but an encouraging springboard for growth and development.

What this means: When you choose to believe that your personality and skills are carved in stone during early childhood, this creates an endless need to prove yourself again and again. If you feel that you possess only a specific amount of intelligence, personality, moral character, then you will need to consistently show the world that you have a lot to offer. However, if you choose to believe that these attributes are not simply something you’ve been given and forced to live with, you will instead cultivate them through your efforts to reach your full potential.


16. Shift Your Focus onto Others:

If you “distract” yourself with helping others, you’ll soon see the satisfaction of giving and it can shift your focus from what you’re struggling with, to what you have to offer instead. Studies indicate that the very act of giving back to the community boosts your happiness, health, and sense of well-being. In other words, giving to others is giving to yourself.


If you’re looking for more helpful tips and tricks to improve your personal resilience, we’d love to have you join us at one of our upcoming Professional Development (CPD) events here.

Melinda Edwards

Melinda Edwards

Founder at The Fearless Institute
Melinda is the Founder of The Fearless Institute and The Rich Daily. She is passionate about the empowerment of bold women making their mark in the world, excellent wine, and Vietnamese food.
Melinda Edwards

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