7 strategies that will make you more resilient

7 strategies that will make you more resilient

Resilience is the ability to prevail, adapt and bounce back from difficult transitions, adversities, severe stressors and trauma.

Being resilient does not mean that you do not feel the emotional pain, distress nor that it is easy for you to confront the adversity. It implies that you face life’s hardships with courage, patience and tenaciousness.

The amount of effort that you invest in nurturing your resources, developing coping capacities and the actual action taking and confronting the adversity head on, will determine your resilience levels.

How to be more resilient

The followings strategies can help you build up your resilience:

1. Regulate your emotions

We all struggle and hurt in difficult times. Experiencing negative emotions is part of being human and it is normal. It does not make you different than others nor wrong for experiencing a certain emotion in a given time.

Don’t persecute yourself for feeling a certain way. Denial, dismissal, avoidance or "bottling them up" do not make the emotions disappear. It merely increases their intensity and frequency.

Acknowledge your emotions and be compassionate towards yourself, just as you would be with others. Talk about it and keep reminding yourself that you are not alone. 

Find activities that will both sooth and add positive emotions to your life will balance your emotional experience. Positive emotions function as a buffer from stress, and it promotes problem solving flexibility and efficiency.

2. Connect with others

Initiate new social contacts; invest in existing relationships and network within your community. Family, friends and participating in enjoyable social interactions in the community are important resources of emotional and practical support.

Supportive relationships that offer you encouragement, comfort and reassurance increase your resilience. When you know that you are not alone and you can reach out for support, it strengthens your resolve, your ability to confront the adversity, plus it boosts your resources and general well-being.

It is also linked with more positive outcomes. So, don’t be afraid to ask for help and rely on others when you need it. At the same time rely on yourself, and trust your own capabilities.

3. Stay Flexible

Avoid having rigid rules such as "I will never do that... or I have to...". Rigid rules add stress and frustrations to your life and limit your ability to cope and successfully solve your problems.

Things may not go according to plan and reality could also be different from how you expected it to be.  Accept that which you cannot change and react to the situation to the best of your abilities and available resources.

You might need to be more flexible and creative in the manner in which you approach it (e.g. brainstorm alternatives and out of the box solutions). If you are new to the surroundings, keep an open mind and try learning new things, explore around, experiment and participate in new activities.

4. Find a balance in your life

Find a balance between meeting daily demands and relaxing, enjoying your social contacts and regaining energy. Take good care of yourself and refill your resources when you can. Even the toughest fighter needs to recharge batteries and to nurture themselves.  

For example, take a break and enjoy a peaceful walk on the beach. It will clear your mind, have a calming effect and restore your sense of balance. You can choose to participate in enjoyable activities that will boost your mood. Even if it lasts briefly, it is still beneficial to your quality of life and coping abilities.

5. Be present

Take yourself off the automatic pilot and focus on the present. Be more attuned to and conscious of your emotions, thoughts, physical sensations and behaviour.

Being more attentive will increase the chance that you will be able to notice that positivity still exists around you, even in times when it all seems to be hard and dark. This will boost your efficacy, mood and you will experience life in a more profound and meaningful way.

6. Humour

Humour is associated with optimism, reduces depression, stress, tension and increases self-esteem, thus it helps promote resilience. Humour can also help restore a more objective perception of the situation.

Have a laugh, watch funny movies or stand-up comedians, read humorous literature and joke around with your friends. And if you can, try to find the lighter, maybe even the ridiculous or absurd perspective of the situation or of peoples' behavior.  

7. Keep a journal

Keep a journal of every positive event, comment, compliment, achievement, interaction or activity that occurs during the day. Write daily at least five items.

The writing of positive occurrences increases your cognitive focus on the positive rather than only on the negative. It also improves memory. In difficult times reread your journal and remind yourself of better and more positive experiences.

In which ways can resilience be an important quality when you're an expat?

Sharon Galor


Sharon Galor

Dr. Sharon Galor helps adult expats overcome their struggles and achieve greater happiness, balance and well-being in their life. The Light Wave Psychologists Practice is located in Amsterdam and Den...

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