Self-help books and life coaches always speak on the importance of building emotional resilience.
It can seem kind of outrageous at times; imagine losing your job or being unable to get healthcare and the prescribed antidote is “try being more resilient!” What does that even mean?
Emotional resilience is about our ability to adapt to stressful situations or crises.
Telling someone who is in the midst of a stressful situation to be more resilient is like telling someone who’s drowning to just swim.
Being able to recover from setbacks and bounce back from disappointments might seem like a superpower; the fact is, it’s a skill.
One that has to be developed and strengthened over time.
Here are three tools that can help:
Sit With It
Firstly, most people see the word meditation and go “yeah, that’s not for me.”
Maybe because of its ties to the free-loving-hacky-sacking-counter-culture of the ’70s. Or it could just be fear at the thought of sitting and doing nothing.
Meditation doesn’t have to be about finding your inner oneness while chanting “Oms” in a dusky dim-lit incensed-filled room. Unless that’s your thing.
The reality is that meditation is a simple yet practical mental exercise. One that has lasting effects on the brain.
MRI scans show an increased thickness and activity in several parts of the brains of frequent meditators.
These areas of the brain are responsible for things like attention control, emotional processing, and self-awareness. Sounds like the building blocks of resilience right there.
The point is that regular mediation practice changes the brain in ways that allow you to become more resilient, among other things.
We’ve got a guided beginner meditation available for you right here.
Be Thankful For It
Being grateful is a feeling everyone in the world is aware of.
The key is that gratitude is so much more than just a feeling. It’s similar to resilience in the sense that it is very much a skill; one that needs to be actively built up over our lives.
Just like meditation, regularly practicing gratitude physically changes the brain and promotes feelings of wellbeing, happiness, optimism, and more.
In regards to emotional resilience, gratitude works by building a foundation of positive emotions.
According to science, we use these positive emotions to bounce back from negative experiences. Essentially, gratitude is the very core of emotional resilience.
If you’re looking for ways to start your own gratitude practice, check out these suggestions.
Write It Out
Journaling is another exercise that has a lot of stigmas attached to it.
Who would want to sit around in their free time and actually write stuff down on paper?
Well, it seemed to work for historical visionaries like Albert Einstein, Michelangelo, Thomas Edison, and Marie Curie — all kept personal journals for most of their lives.
Today, successful people like Arianna Huffington, Lady Gaga, Emma Watson, and Tim Ferris all journal frequently.
When we write things down we gain perspective and clarity. It also gives us an opportunity to revisit experiences, both negative and positive, in a new light.
Journaling is often the first thing that therapists and psychologists will recommend to new patients, and with good reason. The proven health benefits are pretty amazing.
It’s perhaps the quickest and easiest way to start building up your skill of emotional resilience.
In conclusion, we don’t become resilient overnight. It’s something we have to work on constantly and maintain throughout our lives.
But the benefits are worth it, especially in today’s fast-paced and unpredictable world.
We created a free journaling exercise to help you cultivate some emotional resilience in your own life.