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7 Tips for Building Resilience When You’re Not a Kid Anymore

Lots of parenting articles and blogs give advice about building resilience in children. But what if you’re an adult looking to become more resilient? Is it too late for you? If not, how can you improve this key life skill? 

“Resilience is the ability to cope with and recover from life’s challenges. Resilience is what gives people the psychological strength to cope with stress and hardship,” said Jerimya Fox, a licensed professional counselor and a doctor of behavioral health with Banner Health. 

When you’re resilient, you have the mental and emotional strength to confront difficulties and you can bounce back from life’s setbacks. You have a mindset that embraces change, learns from experiences, adapts to adversity and maintains your well-being. 

Resilience may help support good mental health, reduce stress and give you a positive outlook. No matter how old you are, you can develop the skills and attitudes that make you more resilient. Building resilience is an investment in your long-term mental, emotional and physical health.  

Key traits of resilience 

To be more resilient, you’ll want to develop: 

  • Adaptability: Adjusting to new circumstances and being flexible in the face of change.  
  • Optimism: Maintaining a positive outlook, even in challenging situations.  
  • Perseverance: Keeping going in the face of setbacks and learning from experiences rather than being defeated by them.  
  • Self-reflection: Gaining insights from challenges and using them to grow.  
  • Social support: Building and maintaining strong connections with others.  

Ways to build resilience 

Here are six steps you can take to help build your resilience and improve your outlook on life. 

1. Identify challenges 

To build resilience, it can help to predict the challenges you might face. That way, you can prepare to deal with them in positive ways. You may be stressed by: 

  • Work pressure 
  • Relationships with family, friends or partners  
  • Managing your finances  
  • Health issues in yourself or someone close to you  
  • Life transitions such as moving, changing jobs or other major life events 

It can help to think about what situations trigger stress in you, how you typically react to stress, what you do to cope and how well those coping strategies work. 

“When you are resilient, you are more aware of your emotional reactions and in touch with your feelings. This helps you be optimistic about the future. You have a greater understanding that stress will not last, and that you will return to a more balanced state of well-being,” Dr. Fox said. 

2. Shift your mindset 

“By having the right mindset, you can significantly impact your ability to deal with stress and hardships,” Dr. Fox said. If you have the mindset to always look at the negative, it will be that much more difficult when you are faced with life’s challenges.” 

To embrace a resilient mindset, try: 

  • Positive framing: View challenges as opportunities for growth rather than obstacles you can’t overcome. “Focusing on the positive things rather than the negative things prevents you from getting stuck in a negative mindset,” Dr. Fox said. 
  • Accepting change: Instead of resisting change, see it as a constant in life and adapt positively.  
  • Putting your attention where you have the power and control: “We have a tendency as human beings to think of negative things as though they are catastrophic. When things get difficult, focus on what you have the power and control to change and not on how you perceive the present stressful situation,” Dr. Fox said. 
  • Focus on solutions: Take a proactive approach rather than dwelling on problems.  
  • Self-efficacy: Believe that you can navigate challenges.  
3. Develop coping strategies

These techniques can help you cope with challenges in a more resilient way: 

  • Mindfulness and staying present: Mindfulness is a powerful tool that may help prevent overwhelming thoughts about the past or future. To be more mindful, pay attention to your breath to anchor yourself in the present, observe your thoughts without judging them and pay attention to your surroundings with your senses. 
  • Building a solid support system: Social connections can help you be more resilient. Share your thoughts and feelings with friends and family members who you trust. If you need to, reach out to mental health professionals for support. 
  • Healthy lifestyle choices: Get regular exercise, choose a healthy diet and get the sleep you need so you’re well-rested. 
4. Learn ways to embrace change 

Embracing change is an important part of becoming more resilient. Resisting change may make you feel more stressed. When you’re facing changes, lean on your support system and share your thoughts and concerns. Remember that you might not always know the outcome. You need to be patient and have an open mind as you work your way through changes. 

View challenges as opportunities to learn, adapt and develop your skills. Focus on the strengths that helped you overcome other difficulties and how they can help you with new difficulties. When you’re facing challenges, use them to set new goals for growth in your personal life or professional life. 

5. Work on developing a positive outlook 

Looking at life from a positive and grateful point of view can help you become more resilient. Here are some methods that may help: 

  • Reflect on the relationships, achievements or simple pleasures that bring you joy. 
  • Shift your perspective when you’re facing a challenge to identify what you can learn or gain. 
  • Celebrate small wins, which can build your confidence. 
  • Write down things you are grateful for, such as a beautiful sunrise, a kind gesture or your accomplishments.  
  • Share your thanks and appreciation with people who positively impact your life. 
  • Set a positive tone for your day by thinking about three things you’re thankful for in the morning. 
6. Learn from setbacks

 Life always has some setbacks. With resilience, you can handle them better. Accept whatever happened and try not to dwell on what could have made things different. Think about setbacks you’ve had in the past, what you learned from them and how they helped you grow.  

Try to find the positive aspects of setbacks and use them to create new goals for yourself. Remind yourself that setbacks are opportunities to build your resilience. 

7. Get professional help if you need it 

Even if you’ve built resilience, you may face challenges that are hard to manage on your own. Professional support might be a good idea if your challenges or stressors are: 

  • Affecting your daily life 
  • Causing anxiety, sadness or trouble coping 
  • Interfering with your work, relationships or daily activities 

“When the stress or life difficulties are taking control, it’s time to get professional help,” Dr. Fox said. “Resilience is your ability to cope and deal with life difficulties from a psychological perspective. If you do not feel you have the tools to manage that difficulty, seeking professional resources may be helpful.” 

Health care providers can evaluate you, diagnose any mental health conditions and recommend a treatment plan. They can teach you coping skills and resilience-building techniques and offer guidance and support. 

The bottom line 

Resilience is a skill you can build at any age by reframing your mindset, finding ways to cope with change and managing stress. 

“Resiliency is something that we all should continually work on strengthening,” Dr. Fox said. “Building up our resilient minds will help to better prepare us for life’s difficulties and stressors.” 

If you would like to connect with a behavioral health provider for more tips on building resilience, reach out to Banner Health

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