Resilience helps us through hard times. Here’s how to harness it

While we all know people who seem to be handing things amazingly well right now and see the pandemic as an opportunity for growth, many of us are just doing our best to get by. If you fall into the latter category, working to boost your resilience can help you cope with these uncertain times.

Resilience is a now somewhat overused word that references our ability to adapt well in the face of threats, trauma, or significant sources of stress or your ability to “bounce back” after difficult experiences. The big question is: how can you increase your resilience? Below you’ll find a few ways.

Realistic optimism: Studies show that optimism is only about 25 percent inheritable, with other factors that you can influence, affecting overall positivity. There are many simple ways you can improve it, from keeping a gratitude journal to consciously reframing scenarios in a positive light to not watching or reading the news. Optimism, while at times challenges, has been shown to improve resilience to stressful life events, reducing levels of depression and anxiety.

Emotion awareness and control: Resilient people are comfortable with and express their feelings. Whether it be happiness, joy, fear, or sadness. Understanding your emotions and feeling comfortable talking about them with the people you trust will make you more resilient and better able to handle things when you’re going through a difficult time. The ability to share what’s going on makes it less likely you’ll get “stuck” in a negative emotion when it happens.

Self-efficacy: An important part of resilience is self-efficacy – your belief in your ability to succeed in specific situations, or accomplish a task. When people believe that they are effective in the world and are able to move toward their goals they become more resilient. Like other aspects of resilience, your self-efficacy can be increased.

Connection: Studies show that good social relationships help protect against stress reactions. In fact, they found that even people just thinking about those relationships has a beneficial impact. According to the American Psychological Association, “the primary factor in resilience is having caring and supportive relationships within and outside the family.”

Take care of your wellbeing: A critical part of resilience is how you feel both physically and emotionally. What you eat, how often you move, and perhaps most importantly, how much you sleep matters – and, if you can get outside and get some vitamin D. Low vitamin D was found to put you at greater risk of depression.

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