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Yes, You Can! Tips to Build Resilience and Emotional Flexibility

Yes, You Can! Tips to Build Resilience and Emotional Flexibility

How resilient are you? Are you able to roll with the punches life tends to throw at us? Resiliency is an important skill that allows us to be flexible when life knocks us down; it allows us to come back stronger.

Resilient people still experience adversity but do not let it define them. They often think, “Times are tough, but I know they will get better.”

While many people are naturally resilient, have no fear if you are not one of them. It is possible to strengthen your ability to take the tough times as they come.

Here are five ways to build your resiliency:

1. Keep good company

Surround yourself with other resilient people – whether it’s for fun or when you need support. Other resilient people will be empathetic, but will also give you space to work through emotions. This support system should listen without trying to solve your problems, calming you rather than frustrating you. Know what you need and when you need help. And know that it’s ok to ask for help. (Really; it is!)

2. Cultivate self-awareness

A large part of being resilient is simply understanding yourself. I have grown to be very self-aware, listening to my body’s cues and being mindful of my mood shifts during challenging situations. I do allow myself to feel both positive and negative emotions; however, I also try to find the silver lining. In my personal experience, I’ve found sometimes bad things have happened to open my eyes … to wake me up to the reality of how I was living and the gap between there and where I wanted to be.

3. Know you don’t have to have all the answers

When we get stuck on the “why” of every situation, we end up blocking answers that arise naturally. Resilient people find strength in knowing it’s ok to not have all the answers. I’ve come to learn that I am the master of my heart. I may not control situations or know why something happens, but I can control my reaction.

4. Take care of yourself

Self-care goes hand-in-hand with self-awareness. Resilient people have a list of healthy habits they go to when they need it most. This includes both physical and mental practices. And daily habits and routine count! Getting enough sleep, eating your veggies and keeping stress levels low will support your ability to handle negative situations. Spending time outdoors (just 20 minutes in the sunshine) can nurture your resilience, as can meditating and having a spiritual practice. Bonus tip: Humor: did you know that laughing can help relieve pain, both for body and mind? It’s true!

5. Get out of your head

In difficult situations, stress and negative thoughts can overwhelm our minds. This can make us dizzy with anxiety and feeling disconnected. How do we get back on track? Write it all down. Get those thoughts out of your head and onto paper (or a screen). People who engage in journaling report feeling happier and more positive than before they began writing.

Life happens in bell-shaped curves. It ebbs and flows, with both positive and negative events. In any situation, we can only control our effort, not the outcome. It can be overwhelming at times, but by strengthening your resiliency, you can become more flexible during negative situations and bounce back much quicker.

Shannon Gwash is the Director of Wellness Services for Jefferson Center and is also a Certified Mayo Clinic Wellness Coach. She earned her MS from the University of Denver in Strategic Health Communications/Behavior Change. She has nearly 10 years of experience in the communication world and nearly three in parenting … which clearly makes her an expert there. To stay sane, she runs around Sloan’s Lake, hikes with her daughter, enjoys outdoor concerts and reads nerdy books.

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