No matter what you do, where you live, or who you spend your time with, adversity and unexpected challenges are unavoidable parts of life. But with a change of mindset and increased self-awareness, you can gain the conscious control to turn any circumstance into a growth opportunity. By taking care of yourself, you will be better equipped to take care of others through stronger communication and connection with your peers, leadership skills, and a sense of pride in your community.
This guide will introduce you to the foundation of resilience and provide some quick resources to help you become more aware, adaptable, and agile to live your best life more often — no matter what challenges arise.
Resilience = Sense of Control NOT Actual Control
Being resilient means you acknowledge that while you can't control every situation, you can control how you respond to them. In other words, resilience is your ability to respond to and “bounce back” from challenging events and periods.
Based on psychological research from UPenn, NYU, and MIT, the Psocratic STAMP method can help you and teams understand the elements of resilience:
S=Social Connection: how you cultivate meaningful relationships and seek support from your friends, family, and peers.
T=Tenacity: your ability to learn, overcome obstacles, and focus to accomplish goals.
A=Adaptability: your ability to be flexible and cope with new environments and challenges.
M=Meaning and Purpose: how you intentionally link small events to larger goals and ambitions to maintain focus and fulfillment in life.
P=Positivity: your ability to look for opportunities and evaluate your perspective, especially when facing difficult situations.
All of these elements together will help you build a greater sense of control, which is linked to leadership effectiveness, lifespan, higher life satisfaction, and feeling more positive, personally and within groups.
On the other hand, a lack of resilience can result in a sense of a loss of control and is linked to a long list of negative personal, professional, and social consequences, such as anxiety, weak immune health, and poor communication and connection.
Understand what resilience means, personally and socially
Certain people are more naturally resilient, while others have to readily put resilience into practice to develop and improve their skills.
What is your resilience STAMP?
Elements to consider include your baseline level of social support, tenacity to accomplish your goals, adaptability to challenges, sense of meaning and purpose, and positivity in your life.
Reflection topic: take a few minutes to evaluate what aspects of your life place you under the most stress.
What is causing your stress? Explore this further by continuing to ask yourself why stress is occurring to get to the root cause.
How do you generally respond to challenging situations and periods?How do you generally relieve or manage stress?
How could being more resilient benefit you personally and professionally?
The goal is to understand your resilience level and what aspects of your life you’d like to use resilience to improve. With this base-level understanding in place, you can research the best methods to cultivate your own resilience skills and start to take action — whether you’re building upon existing skills or starting from ground zero.
Not only is positivity contagious, but by developing better habits you will become a better communicator, listener, and influence on those around you.
*We’ve included some helpful resources, including a resilience quiz, at the bottom of this guide for you.
Step 1. Cultivate personal awareness
Ask some people you know what resilience means to them and how they are strengthening it in their lives. Everyone approaches resilience differently, but having an understanding of what tools and methods are commonly used is a good place to raise awareness.
Meditation is a powerful way to ground yourself and start to build inner awareness of your resilience and stress. Whatever meditation means to you (cross-legged or on a run), finding time to reflect on your mental wellbeing and inner focus can help you to relax and combat stress.
Common practices to consider: yoga, meditation, deep breathing exercises, tai chi, cooking.
Reframing the situation.
Another useful tool is to evaluate your perceptions of any given situation and look for the positive takeaways instead of the negative. Being aware of your personal tendencies to label an event as positive or negative can help you avoid unnecessary stressors by building a growth mindset, which is characterized by being flexible and open to new experiences (opposite of a fixed-mindset).
Reflection topic: What is the last negative situation you experienced? Can you reframe it using positive words and or outcomes?
Step 2. Adopt a growth and resilience mindset
Increase your tenacity.
There’s no time like the present to take a deep breath and evaluate your stress level. If it’s too high, take action now to reduce it to a healthy level. If it’s too low, find a new challenge to encourage personal growth.
Be adaptable to cope with stress.
Oftentimes, we create stress for ourselves by not being able to respond to external situations flexibly; sometimes we get stuck thinking that there is only one way to get through a problem or difficult situation, taking a step back to find alternative routes is a helpful skill to navigate stress.
Stay true to your values.
Staying focused on what creates meaning and purpose in your life helps to combat stress by reminding you to look at the bigger picture and not get bogged down by annoying details.
Reflection topic: what gets you the most excited about life and where do you generally derive your meaning and purpose from? Take a deep breath, look around, and spend a few minutes reflecting (writing down your thoughts can help as well).
Cultivate positive thinking.
Stress tends to compound problems by drawing our attention to what is wrong with a situation instead of focusing on the potential. Next time negative thoughts creep in, stop and take a few minutes to reflect on what you’re grateful for, who or what you appreciate at that moment, and what things are going well in your life.
Another way to boost positivity is to laugh more. Although it may sound strange to simply remind yourself to laugh, doing so can decrease stress hormones, boost immune strength, and change negative situations into positive ones.
Use your social connections for support.
Friends, colleagues, and family are critical for helping you to manage stress and cope with difficult situations. Try talking to someone when you’re feeling under water, or helping a friend through a tough time to reduce stress and build resilience.
Reflection topic: How do you seek help from your support system before you’re sucked too deep into a problem? How can you build resilience with your
Step 3. Think holistically.
Being resilient requires a sound mind and body, yet, life can wear you down mentally and physically. Maintaining better overall health will allow you to better handle stressful situations.
Sometimes we need to release built-up negative energy to reduce stress. There are few easier ways to do this than by getting the blood flowing with exercise. Anything from a rigorous gym session to a brief walk has been shown to release healthy chemicals, protect brain cells, lower blood pressure, and release stress.
Tip: Physicians agree that adults should strive for at least 2 ½ hours of moderate intensity activity per week.
Know when to unplug and recharge
Having the awareness to realize when you’re about to burnout or become too stressed is an important first step. Having the discipline to unplug from whatever is generating stress to refocus and recharge is what matters most. Taking a brief break from work, turning off your cell phone, connecting with friends or family, or practicing self-care more regularly throughout the day will help you to stay grounded and stress-free.
Tip: Before entering into a potentially stressful environment, such as an important meeting or one-on-one, take a few deep breaths.
Nutritionists suggest that a Mediterranean diet — vegetables, fruits, nuts, whole grains, and fish — may also fight depression relative to diets high in sugary, processed, or fried foods. A healthy diet will also give you a boost of energy and focus throughout the day.
Tip: Try storing healthy snacks where you tend to experience stress or spend the majority of your time.
Snooze away stress
Not sleeping sufficiently is shown to reduce your immune health and impair memory, attention, decision making, and learning new information. Sleeping 7 to 8 hours per night helps us manage stress and stay focused.
Slow and steady is the way to resilience
Resilience requires dedication and discipline to upkeep. Practicing resilience skills daily will help you overcome challenges and turn roadblocks into opportunities with a change of mindset and more conscious control.
Try these resources to grow your resilience skills:
- Test your resilience with this free tool.
- Sign your company up for Psocratic – the best way to socially reinforce these practices.
- Look up free programs at your local hospital or online communities.
- Practice meditation or mindfulness that works for you.
We’d love to hear what tips and tricks you have for increasing your own resilience that we can share with our community. Leave a comment below or send us an email at firstname.lastname@example.org