How to be Resilient: Tips for Overcoming Your Biggest Challenges

Having resilience means standing strong and pushing back in the face of challenges. It’s holding your ground and forging ahead even when the current is working against you and pushing you backward. For many us, resilience sometimes seems like a natural characteristic – either you have it or you don’t – but that’s not the whole story. No matter where you’re starting from, resilience can be cultivated and enhanced over time. It’s not necessarily something you’re born with. It’s something you work at and develop. 

To be resilient, you need to take care not only of the challenge in front of you, but also take care of yourself while you do it. To discuss ways to develop resilience, let’s break the process into two categories: Developing resilience means developing 1) a resilient attitude and 2) resilient approaches and practices. We’ll give five easy but powerful steps to develop each category and strengthen your overall resilience.

A Resilient Attitude: Managing Mental Health While Dealing with Challenges and Stress

Intimidating challenges, even the ones we face every day, come with high levels of stress. Stress can push us to be productive, which is why we need it; but it can also overwhelm us, clutter our minds, and decrease our productivity and quality of work – not to mention our general quality of life. Often when approaching a challenge, we are naturally inclined to power our way through it, throwing our emotional and physical energy at the problem until it’s gone – “I’ll take care of myself later.” This approach is often a big mistake because the quality and efficiency of our day-to-day suffers when we don’t nurture ourselves emotionally. Even worse, when we don’t have a healthy headspace, we often create new problems – in our relationships, with our physical and/or mental health, etc. – that only further hurt our ability to focus on and tackle the challenge in front of us. Here are five important tips for maintaining a good, productive headspace even when pressure and stress are high.

  1. Sense of purpose energize yourself by reflecting on why this challenge is meaningful in the first place. That could be anything from “I want the benefits and feeling of doing this thing or overcoming this challenge” to “I just want this challenge out of the way so I can focus on my family and friends.” You’re taking this challenge on for a good reason, so let that reason motivate you to get through it! 
  2. Lean on the people who care about and support you – whether it’s family, friends, a therapist, or an online support group, talking through our challenges and hearing outside viewpoints help us to experience emotional release and to maintain a balanced, healthy perspective. 
  3. Embrace change – we often add extra stress and pressure to our experience by trying to stick to what’s familiar. Allowing for change and releasing our preconceived idea of how things are “supposed to go” gives us more room to work with and makes us more adaptable to the natural deviations of our challenges and of life in general.  
  4. Practice self-care – be extra kind to yourself while you work your way through a challenge. That means you need to: A) remain optimistic, allow yourself to make mistakes, and don’t beat yourself up about them B) practice extra self-kindness, do yourself favors, and, when you can, treat yourself to things you enjoy.
  5. You’re more than just this one challenge – when facing an intimidating or important challenge, we can lose sight of the bigger picture and overemphasize the place this one event holds in our lives. Remember that no one challenge can make or break you. This challenge may be important, but it’s not everything.

Resilient Practices: 

The goal of our resilient practices is to make big challenges feel smaller by breaking them down into bite-sized pieces. Here are five methods for turning those overwhelming situations into smaller chunks you can wrap your head around.

  1. Develop a routine – big challenges can get in our heads and make us unproductive. Having structured routines can help you to get things done at a steady, responsible pace even when you feel overwhelmed. Being resilient means staying consistent in the face of a challenge.
  2. Establish goals – establishing a clear set of end goals gives us a strong sense of what we hope to achieve. Creating checkpoints/sub-goals helps us to feel a sense of accomplishment as we go.
  3. Break it down into a step-by-step process – any challenge can feel huge and impossible to do if you try to solve the whole thing at once. Take a pencil + paper and break it down into a step-by-step process. Take it one day at a time.
  4. Don’t worry about being perfect, just get through the work – sometimes we work inefficiently or become frustrated because we are trying to make our work perfect, even on the first draft! Whether the work is physical or emotional, just getting through the full process once allows us to take a sigh of relief. You can always go back and improve it later!
  5. Take breaks to gain fresh perspective – when you spend too much time thinking about the same thing, your thinking starts going in circles and your perspective becomes stale. Try giving yourself a break to relax, or even just take a quick breather, and come back to it with a freshened point of view.

Being resilient isn’t just an attitude you’re born with. It’s something you can understand, nurture, and strengthen. Keep these tips in mind when approaching a challenge, and don’t worry, you’ll get through it!