Strengthening your emotional resilience takes practice. That’s because mental fortitude—the ability to bounce back from adversity—isn’t necessarily innate. Circumstances shape how we react to adversity. Over time, we can pick up bad practices that drain us of our strength and energy. Thankfully, we can break some of these bad habits with positive routines. Let’s look at seven resilience-building methods you can use daily to build a stronger, happier you.
1. Build your resilience with a morning routine.
Seeming lack of control wears on our emotional resilience. So does a sense of indecisiveness. Manage both of these at once by taking control at the very start of your day. An optimal method to become more resilient is through a morning routine. It removes indecision and inaction from the start of your day. In this way, it puts you in the driver’s seat of your life from the moment you wake up.
One kind of morning ritual does not suit everyone. For instance, the morning routines of successful entrepreneurs run a wide range. Exercise helps get your body going and builds your physical strength and resilience. Answering emails or making a task list, on the other hand, help you structure the rest of your day. Whatever you choose, the structure and the feeling of accomplishment will empower you to greet the rest of your day with resolve.
2. Increase mental fortitude through visualization exercises.
Prolonged stress and anxiety take a toll on your mind and body. While fear is generally short-lived, worry can linger for days or even weeks. Such anxiety has a direct, negative physiological impact on your body. In fact, it releases the same chemicals as when we face imminent danger. Such prolonged stress leads to lack of concentration, irritability, and fatigue. In other words, a loss of mental, emotional and physical resilience.
Visualization exercises help us confront our worries head-on. They range from visualizing your own success in a situation that concerns you to imagining your favorite calm, tranquil setting. As a daily practice during your commute, before lunch or at bedtime, it will clear your mind of the stressors which have built inside of you.
3. Express gratitude.
Expressing gratitude serves as another mental exercise that builds your resilience. As in the case of worry, our brains can spiral into self-defeating thoughts of inadequacy. Take a few minutes daily to remind yourself all you have to be grateful for. You might consider your own unique skills or gifts that got you through tough times. Or consider the external things you are grateful for. These might include friends, pets, or even personal items you own that make your life better. You might even consider keeping a gratitude journal. Whatever your approach, this daily act of thankfulness will help clear negativity and build resolve.
And remember, practicing gratitude toward others adds to resilience too. Simple gestures such as thank you notes or voluntarism can build your sense of self-worth and accomplishment. It can build your network of allies too.
4. Replenish your soul with nature.
Do you feel better after going outdoors? That’s not in your imagination. The practice of ecotherapy has scientifically-backed benefits for our physical and mental health. It rejuvenates us and helps us bounce back. In other words, it builds our physical and emotional resilience. We become stronger and happier
And you don’t need to visit a mountain retreat or forest trail. Simply make time each day to get outside and take in some nature and sun. Your workplace may offer an outdoor area. Or, perhaps, you can take a walk around the neighborhood for lunch or after work. Even an urban environment offers the richness of sky, sun, grass and trees. Take advantage of them. In one particularly stressful work environment, a lunch walk in a nearby neighborhood can refuel you. This daily activity can strengthen your resolve while replenishing your spirit.
5. Embrace new challenges to build self-esteem.
This one may seem counterintuitive at first. After all, if stress can decrease resilience, how can taking on additional challenges build it? But we usually worry most when we are not doing something. Taking on an engaging new challenge refocuses the mind to the immediate. That is,it concentrates your energy toward a challenge you can resolve in the here and now.
And sometimes, it’s as simple as challenging your own pre-dispositions. Are you inclined to say “no” to a new food or to an after-work get-together? Say “yes” instead. Nearly every day offers some unique opportunity to try something new. These small accomplishments will build your esteem with a sense of accomplishment. Other times, it will reinforce your predispositions so that next time you can say “no” with confidence.
6. Combat self-doubt through language with others.
How we talk to ourselves has a lot to do with our self-perception. Negative self-talk wears us down emotionally and even physically. Productive self-talk exercises build our mental fortitude and emotional resilience.
But what about the way we speak with others?
Consider the following situation. Suppose a struggling entrepreneur improperly filled out her invoice. The clients calls to note the discrepancy, and the entrepreneur responds one of two ways:
- “I’m so sorry! I always make dumb little mistakes. I’ll correct that and send it right back to you.”
- “Thank you for calling that to my attention! I’ll correct that and send it right back to you.”
Note that in the first example, the entrepreneur not only apologizes, but his own-self-doubt comes through. He even reinforces that doubt by saying he “always” makes that “dumb” mistake. But in the second response, we hear only positivity. An apology is turned to gratitude, and he sounds confident in his ability to handle the matter.
Watch for times when you reinforce your self-doubts through language. As with self-talk, seemingly minor negativity can decrease our positivity and resilience over time.
7. Build mental resilience with an evening routine.
As with your morning routine, building an evening routine adds structure to your day. It provides a winding down process. You might begin by taking care of the little details that slow you down in the morning. For instance, prepare coffee or set out the next day’s clothes. These little rituals not only help get your morning started, but they serve as a finishing line for the work day. Now, the part of your night routine can begin.
Journaling, meditation or reading serve as great end of the day practices. Each allows you to leave behind the stress and anxiety you brought home. They also prepare your mind to let go of the nagging thoughts that may keep you awake at night. Releasing stress in these ways builds emotional resilience through relaxation and calm. They also prepare your mind and body to heal in a more deep, adequate sleep.
And be patient with yourself. You won’t develop an adequate routine on your first try. And you may not wake up refreshed in your first week. Certainly, some days the little things will get in the way. Stick with it. As with any skill, resilience-building takes time and practice. And each of these seven techniques can guide you to the next. It’s a cycle that, with time and patience, can build a stronger, more resilient you.
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