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5 Ways To Build Your Emotional Resilience

by Fatin Hafizah. |

Emotional resilience refers to the way you deal with stressful situations and your ability to remain calm when everything around you feels like it is up in flames. Ever felt like life has knocked you to the ground and everything is just overwhelming? Trust me, you are not alone. This is when your emotional resilience is being put to the test. Fret not as, fortunately, resilience can be cultivated and, in this piece, we are going to look at five approaches you can take to build your emotional resilience.

1. Build a support system

Having a strong support system is vital in building your emotional resilience. A solid support system does not only mean having someone to catch you when you fall. Rather, a solid support system is having someone positive and someone who will not bring your energy down. Choosing your company is important in shaping your life, especially when you are navigating through a hard phase in your life. So, confide to a friend that you trust. A great support system will remind you that you don't have to bottle it up and you don't have to carry all of the weight of the world on your own. If you don't feel comfortable letting your loved ones know, consider getting professional help. Professional help will not only give you an outlet to talk about your problems but it can also help you make sense of what you're feeling better and in return, you will know how to tackle your problems more effectively.

2. Find a purpose

Research has shown that a strong sense of purpose creates stronger resilience. For example, Okinawa people tend to live longer than most average human beings. Their secret to longevity and vitality? They lead a purposeful life by practising Ikigai which means a reason for being. Finding that for yourself requires getting in touch with your inner self and that is not a simple thing to do. If it were, we would all be living up to over a 100-years old. Even if you are not aiming to live until 100 years old, having a purpose in life can help you build up your emotional strength. So, ask yourself, what is your purpose in life? Aside from work or school, what makes you get up in the morning? If you need that extra push in finding your purpose, try this Ikigai worksheet from Jos Nierop's website. Through this exercise, you will have a rough idea of what you are supposed to be doing as well as what could be your ideal career.

3. Learn something new and practice your problem-solving skills

You can't build resilience in one day nor does it come naturally. It is a skill that needs to be honed and nurtured and it needs a lot of practising and learning. Learning something new will help you become more prepared as well as develop your critical thinking and problem-solving skills. Be alert as to how you react when you encounter a challenge. Then, take note of it and come up with ways on how you can solve the problem. Being an over worrier, one trick that I always use when problems occur is to always take a deep breath and list out all the problems I am facing. Listing out my problems will help me re-organise my thoughts. The process helps me to feel less overwhelmed and gives me a clearer view of my troubles and how I can solve them one by one. For more insight into problem-solving skills, this article written by Kendra Cherry will help you in understanding problem-solving strategies and obstacles.

4. Cultivate healthy habits

Aside from learning something new and keeping your brain sharp, keeping your body healthy is equally important too. This article by Eric Barker from Time has stated that resilient people have good exercise habits. This statement has also been backed up by research as exercise has been proven to reduce anxiety and depression. When you exercise, you will release endorphins which are known to trigger a positive feeling in your body. So, get your body moving, and it’s okay if your exercise routine is a simple one. In her book, “first, we make the beast beautiful,” Sarah Wilson mentioned that a study shows that "20 to 30-minute walks for five times a week will make people feel less anxious, as effectively as antidepressants." This proves that you don't need a rigorous exercise routine to keep your body and mind in shape. What matters is consistency and discipline.

5. Practice self-compassion

"If you want others to be happy, practice compassion. If you want to be happy, practice compassion." - Dalai Lama.

Whether you realise it or not, sometimes we are our biggest critic. Self-compassion can be a challenge for most of us simply because we put high expectations on ourselves. For example, you can receive nine compliments and one criticism in a day but the only thing you will be thinking about before you sleep is that one criticism. Don't get me wrong, criticism is important and it is needed for us to improve ourselves but there is also nothing wrong with remembering the compliments and patting ourselves on the back. It is all about balance. If you need help in cultivating your self-compassion skill, do take a look at these exercise worksheets crafted by Courtney E. Ackerman.

As much as emotional resilience is important, I hope you will also find the courage to be vulnerable because only then can you allow yourself to experience change and growth. As said by Dennis S. Charney and Steven M. Southwick, the authors of “Resilience: The Science of Mastering Life's Greatest Challenges,” "I am more vulnerable than I thought but much stronger than I ever imagined."

You can learn more about the writer on Instagram.

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