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4 Ways to Boost Your Resilience

Balancing anxiety and grief with hope and purpose are essential to resiliency.

Key points

  • Resilience is the ability to bounce back and even thrive, despite hardships.
  • Researchers have found that resilience can be increased or strengthened like a muscle.
  • There are specific small steps people may start taking today to become more resilient.

The past few years have been challenging for many of us. Americans are expressing high levels of concern about mental health struggles, and data shows that the past decade has had a particularly detrimental effect on the wellbeing of adolescents.

At the same time, modern brain science has revealed that we are not passive victims of our emotions and there is much we can do to build our capacity and resilience during tough times.

The American Psychological Association defines resilience as:

The process of adapting well in the face of adversity, trauma, tragedy, threats, or significant sources of stress—such as family and relationship problems, serious health problems, or workplace and financial stressors. As much as resilience involves 'bouncing back' from these difficult experiences, it can also involve profound personal growth.

What Are 4 Ways We Can Start Boosting Resilience Now?

Scientists have found that resilience can be strengthened, like a muscle, by focusing our attention on four main areas: Purpose, People, Practices, and Possibility.

You might be thinking that the four areas outlined below seem like a lot of work to add to an already overflowing life. However, research on personal change has shown that adding one small doable action at a time can go a long way to building new patterns and habits.

Whatever you decide to do, remember that you have more control over your internal state than you may believe. Begin planting seeds today, for a happier and more resilient you in the future.

"The best time to plant a tree was 20 years ago. The second best time is now." - Chinese Proverb


*Note: These strategies are not meant to replace mental health interventions or professional support for serious mental heath struggles. If you believe you are experiencing serious and debilitating symptoms of depression, anxiety, or suicidality, please reach out to get help immediately by using the Get Help tab at the top of any Psychology Today webpage.

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