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Resilience: Build skills to endure hardship
Tips to improve your resilience
If you'd like to become more resilient, consider these tips:
- Get connected. Building strong, positive relationships with loved ones and friends can provide you with needed support and acceptance in both good times and bad. Establish other important connections by doing volunteer work, getting involved in your community, or joining a faith or spiritual community.
- Make every day meaningful. Do something that gives you a sense of accomplishment and purpose every day. Set goals to help you look toward the future with meaning.
- Learn from experience. Think back on how you've coped with hardships in the past. Consider the skills and strategies that helped you through rough times. You might even write about past experiences in a journal to help you identify both positive and negative behavior patterns — and guide your behavior in the future.
- Remain hopeful. You can't change what's happened in the past, but you can always look toward the future. Accepting and even anticipating change makes it easier to adapt and view new challenges with less anxiety.
- Take care of yourself. Tend to your own needs and feelings, both physically and emotionally. Participate in activities and hobbies you enjoy. Include physical activity in your daily routine. Get plenty of sleep. Eat a healthy diet. To restore an inner sense of peace or calm, practice stress management and relaxation techniques, such as yoga, meditation, guided imagery, deep breathing or prayer.
- Be proactive. Don't ignore your problems or try to wish them away. Instead, figure out what needs to be done, make a plan and take action. Although it can take time to recover from a major setback, traumatic event or loss, know that your situation can improve if you actively work at it.
When to seek professional advice
Becoming more resilient takes time and practice. If you don't feel you're making progress — or you don't know where to start — consider talking to a mental health provider. With guidance, you can improve your resiliency and mental well-being.Previous page
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- Mental health: A report of the Surgeon General. U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. http://www.surgeongeneral.gov/library/mentalhealth/home.html. Accessed April 29, 2011.
- Edward K, et al. The phenomenon of resilience as described by adults who have experienced mental illness. Journal of Advanced Nursing. 2009;65:587.
- Karren KJ, et al. Mind, Body, Health: The Effects of Attitudes, Emotions and Relationships. 4th ed. San Francisco, Calif.: Pearson Education Inc. 2010:543.
- Norris FH, et al. Looking for resilience: Understanding the longitudinal trajectories of responses to stress. Social Science and Medicine. 2009:2190.
- Bonnano G, et al. The human capacity to thrive in the face of potential trauma. Pediatrics. 2008;121:369.
- Netuveli G, et al. Mental health and resilience at older ages: Bouncing back after adversity in the British Household Panel Survey. Journal of Epidemiology and Community Health. 2008;62:987.