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How to Build Up Your Resilience to Stress


April 15, 2020 | Published by

What is resilience?

Resilience is defined as the process of adapting well in the face of adversity, trauma, tragedy, threats or significant sources of stress. This can include family and relationship issues, financial and workplace stressors or severe health problems. While recovering from stressful situations is a vital part of resilience, it’s also a possible way to develop significant personal growth.1

A significant role of resilience is to help you control, modify, and grow with the ever-changing aspects of your life. Resilience can help you power through difficult situations and can also allow you to grow as a person while even improving your life in the process.1

It’s important to know that being resilient doesn’t mean you won’t still experience stress or adversity. Many individuals that have suffered major trauma or difficulty frequently encounter emotional stress and pain. And while resilience can be profoundly helpful, the journey to strengthening that aspect of your life may contain considerable emotional stress.1

How to Build Resilience2

We all come from different walks of life, and since building resilience is a personal road we travel, it may be a different experience for each of us. What works for one person may not be what’s right for another. Here are some different ways to build your resilience:

Personal care

Taking care of yourself can encompass many things from making sure you’re getting adequate exercise to finding time to relax. Be conscious of your own feelings and needs as ensuring that your body and mind are prepared to deal with difficult situations is crucial.2

Keep good connections

Accepting help from people that care about you is a fantastic way to strengthen resilience, so maintaining close relationships with trusted family members and friends is important. Many others find that community or faith-based groups are a great way to stay social while being able to preserve optimism. You can also gain the benefits of the helper by aiding others in their time of need.2

Be cautious or limit your exposure to unpleasant media coverage

It is certainly important to be aware of current events, but a constant stream of negative or bleak news can take a toll on you emotionally. Consider how much and how often you are absorbing these types of media and make a change if necessary.2

Practice reframing3

While it may seem like there is no way out when stuck in a stressful situation, it can be extremely beneficial to practice reframing. While it is impossible to change the fact that a stressful occurrence happened, if you look at a situation from a different angle or allow your attitudes or beliefs about it to change, quite often the stress and tension that the situation provokes will begin to diminish or become easier to manage.

Keep your goal in mind

Rather than fixating on tasks or feats that seem impossible, set small goals for yourself and regularly challenge yourself to fulfill them. This not only provides you with a sense of accomplishment, it can also provide motivation to keep moving forward.2

Tackle issues head-on

Consider attempting to conquer complex problems directly in lieu of ignoring your stressors and hoping they’ll disappear.2

Be optimistic

Instead of worrying about outcomes you fear, consider visualizing what you want to happen instead. A hopeful outlook can allow you to expect good things to happen in the future.2

Be wary of “catastrophizing”

It is important to view your stress in the correct context, keeping in mind the long-term influence it may have. It can be difficult to understand the true proportion of your issues and instead exaggerate the effect they’ll have on your life. Influential mental health researcher and clinician Aaron Beck compares “catastrophizing” to fortune telling, meaning you envision a negative future instead of considering the more likely positive outcomes.2

Develop confidence

Another great way to build resilience is to build confidence in your instincts and problem-solving abilities.2 Confidence can come from practice and self-assurance. Take some time each day to commend yourself for your efforts and progress, and don’t beat yourself up over setbacks and perceived failures.

Open yourself to self-discovery

While struggle and loss can have significant negative effects on our lives, many people who have experienced struggle and hardship have reported an increased sense of personal strength, boosted self-worth, and have also reported enhanced personal relationships.2

While emotional resilience is at least partially inborn, it’s also something that can be learned and honed. If you find it difficult to handle life’s complications and would like to be able to tackle everyday adversities with more ease, improving your resilience may be what you need.4


  1. Building your resilience. American Psychological Association.
  2. A Personal Strategy for Engaging and Building Your Resilience. University of California.
  3. Wilson, J. Reframing: How to Manage Unavoidable Stress.
  4. Scott, E. How to Cope With Stress and Become More Resilient. Verywell Mind.


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