Life happens. And sometimes, it happens with such intensity that it shakes us to our very core! Potential life-altering challenges like losing a loved one, going through a major financial crisis, or experiencing a serious health issue can make our lives tailspin. How we respond to these hurdles will definitely affect our overall well-being in no small way.
If you’re currently facing a profound life challenge, this article offers ways to meet adversity with resiliency. From giving yourself time to recover to reframing challenging situations, here are eight practical tips for building resilience in the face of adversity.
1. Give Yourself Time to Adjust
Flexing your resiliency muscle is a lot easier when faced with everyday challenges. However, getting stuck in traffic or trying to meet a tight work deadline pales in comparison to losing your entire livelihood in an instant!
It’s natural to feel overwhelmed and even disoriented when life throws you a curveball, especially when the unexpected difficulty significantly disrupts your life. What’s not okay is beating yourself up for grieving.
Recovering from a major life event often takes time, and even the most resilient people need time to feel and process things before adjusting to the new reality. In other words, you must allow yourself to fully absorb what has happened before bouncing back from it.
If you’re going through a particularly challenging situation, you first want to acknowledge your feelings.
Permit yourself to feel sad, angry, frustrated, or whatever emotions emerge. Don’t suppress or repress these natural responses because doing so can have nasty consequences. Besides, it won’t help the resilience-building process.
Don’t hold yourself to impossible standards. Rather, give yourself time to adjust and adapt to your new reality. Allowing the process to unfold naturally puts you in a better place to tackle adversity head-on.
2. Change How You View Challenging Situations
Your perspective greatly affects how you perceive and respond to situations. This explains why consciously reframing your view of challenges is crucial to building resilience in the face of adversity.
While it can be difficult to adopt a constructive outlook when you’re smack in the middle of a devastating experience, shifting your view can help you see things from a different and, in most cases, better angle.
You can change how you view a challenge by asking yourself:
- What lessons and opportunities might this challenge present?
- What can I learn from this experience, and how can it help me grow?
- What are my options, and what steps can I take to come out of this better and stronger?
Contemplating these questions will help you reframe the pain and nudge you toward developing a growth mindset. Changing how you view adversity will help you embrace setbacks as a natural part of life that makes you stronger and more resilient.
3. Accept Things as They Are
This one might be a bit difficult for many, but accepting things as they are is an important step that allows you to think clearly and recognize opportunities.
Interestingly, we tend to believe that pushing against what we don’t want can somehow change them. And while railing against not-so-pleasant circumstances might feel like the natural thing to do in the face of adversity, it hardly makes you feel better or change the situation.
But don’t take this the wrong way, though.
Accepting things as they are isn’t the same as passivity or resigning yourself to the situation. Rather, acceptance means letting go of resistance, finding meaning, and actively seeking support.
When you approach challenges with this mindset, it empowers you to adapt and embrace change with greater ease, even when it brings pain.
Consider the following tips and techniques to help you cultivate acceptance.
- Acknowledge how difficult or painful your new circumstance is, but focus on what you can control.
- Think of your situation as a chance to begin a new chapter in your life ― a starting point for moving forward.
- Make time for mindfulness practices, such as meditation and journaling, to help you embrace your situation without beating yourself up.
4. Be Grateful for the Lessons
Gratitude is usually the last thing to cross people’s minds when life knocks them down. And indeed, finding things to be grateful for in a difficult situation can be quite challenging.
Yet, expressing gratitude for the lesson that comes from the challenging experience can significantly strengthen your resilience muscles.
This does not suggest that you spin a bad situation or adopt a head-in-the-sand approach when things are obviously bad. Indeed, there is no getting around the fact that something you’d rather not happen has indeed happened.
That said, you have complete control over your response. You can choose to focus on how bad things turned out and how terrible you feel about the event, others, and even yourself. Also, you have the power to direct your focus to the lessons in the experience.
As you probably already figured, this is not the easiest thing, but gratitude is a powerful tool that can help you build resilience in the face of adversity.
Instead of dwelling on the negatives, deliberately look for the silver lining in the difficult situation and write them in a gratitude journal. For example, losing your job can be devastating, but it can inspire you to dig deep and tap into your entrepreneurial side, giving you the freedom to be your own boss.
5. Take Charge of Your Thinking and Self-Talk
Negative self-talk can have some damaging effects on the mind. It can trigger anxiety, low self-esteem, depression, and other mental health issues.
To build and strengthen your resilience, it is important to keep a tight leash on your thinking patterns as well as what you tell yourself when no one is listening.
Of course, when life deals you a blow, it is normal to have lots of negative thoughts. But don’t dwell on those, as they can make you feel helpless or blame yourself for the bad event.
Deliberately shift your focus to positivity using tools like affirmations and positive self-talk. Remember to surround yourself with positive influences, such as motivational books, inspiring stories, and optimistic people.
6. Be Intentional About Lightening Your Mood
Weathering the storm is only one aspect of developing resilience. Beyond enduring difficult times, resilience is also about finding things that can bring you joy, no matter how small.
There’s always something that can lighten your mood, even during your lowest moments. And while it may feel absurd, looking for humor during your darkest days isn’t such a bad idea. Instead, laughing in the face of adversity is a great way to relieve stress and strengthen your resilience.
Remember, laughter is good medicine, so when life throws you off balance, make it a point to find ways to ease the pressure and lighten the load weighing you down.
7. Think About How Far You’ve Come
It’s harder to bounce back from adversities if you focus solely on your current struggles. That’s because your attention to the current pain prevents you from looking back to times when you powered through difficult periods in your life.
However, when you make the deliberate effort to call to mind your strengths, achievements, and how you pulled through some of the most difficult times of your life, it motivates and propels you to keep moving forward despite the current circumstances.
That said, recognizing how strong you are can sometimes be taxing, especially when life brings you to your knees. If you ever have trouble reflecting on how far you’ve come in your journey, don’t hesitate to reach out to trusted friends, family, or colleagues.
Hearing their views on how far you’ve come can remind you of your progress and validate your efforts.
8. Take Care of Yourself
Lastly, always carve out time for self-care. Don’t make this optional. Making time to care for yourself is crucial for your overall well-being, especially when life deals you a hard blow.
Remember that being in good physical and emotional states are essential for building resilience in the face of adversity.
Nourish your body and mind as often as possible. Engage in self-care activities that resonate with you, such as spending time in nature, getting massages, or exercising regularly. Also, remember to create “me-time” to just be with your thoughts and introspect.
Whatever you do, avoid giving in to the temptation of using drugs, alcohol, or other stimulants to numb your pain. Also, don’t isolate yourself from your support system or overload your schedule with work as a way to escape your reality.
Instead, use healthier strategies to manage stress. Consider things such as relaxation exercises, setting boundaries, and mindfulness meditation. If all else fails, seek help from a therapist or counselor.
Wondering if your self-care routine is up to par? Take this self-care quiz to find out.