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Ten Ways to Boost Your Mental Resilience

Fall down, get up, straighten the crown and go on: that pretty much describes what is meant by resilience. During the pandemic, it has become clear that people are divided into two camps. There are those who don't seem to mind the restrictions at all, who are in a good mood and not stressed despite home-schooling or short-term work - they are just making the best of the situation. 

Then there are those who suffered during the lockdown because their vacation fell through, the pub on the corner had to close or their children were at home and accidentally disturbed them in their home office. Some simply have a problem reacting spontaneously and flexibly to a situation that thwarts their plans. 

What distinguishes the two camps is psychological resilience. It is also often called the mental immune system. The good news is that this immune system can be strengthened. Resilience develops continuously. With our ten tips, you can train your resilience and become crisis-proof. Never forget: from every crisis there is an opportunity to emerge stronger.

resilience

1. Focus on the cans, not the cant’s

In a crisis, what is shown above all is what you cannot do. You feel incapacitated, like a failure, or you experience a complete loss of control. It is all the more important to push your own ego. Resilient people have a healthy level of self-confidence that helps them in a crisis: they do not focus on what they cannot do or what goes wrong, but on what they can do in the situation. This attitude helps them to cope with crises.

2. Take a step back

Do you find yourself playing the role of the victim? Have you ever wondered “why did this have to happen to me of all people”? Why now of all times? Now, have you ever paused to wonder if those thoughts are productive?

In a crisis, regardless of whether it is at work, in the family or in a partnership, we like to take the role of the victim. In doing so, we simply give up our share of responsibility for the situation. This is convenient, but doesn't help. Rather, it means taking responsibility for your own actions, learning from the crisis and accepting situations that cannot be changed. 

3. Cultivate optimism

Resilience includes the ability to recognise the positive in a crisis. There is always the chance that something will be better than it was before. Those who only see the negative will only encounter negative things: self-fulfilling prophecy. So try to focus on the positive sides of a crisis and cultivate your optimism. We don’t mean “become more optimistic” at the drop of a hat - it takes conscious effort.

For example; take a moment to do something creative. It can be something as simple as doodling on a post-it note. Creativity activates the left side of your brain and, research suggests, this can help you feel more optimistic. 

4. Accept uncertainty

Being able to accept things is an essential core element of resilience. Changes and the unpredictable are part of our lives. We have to come to terms with them because we cannot always influence them. Those who live in the here and now and do not constantly let their thoughts revolve around the past or future find it easier to accept their current situation.

optimism

5. Get out of your comfort zone more often

We struggle with crises because they drive us out of our comfort zone. However, we do not develop further in our comfort zones, but only when we move to the edge of it - or out of it entirely. If you voluntarily step out of your comfort zone more often, you can get practice in it and remain more relaxed when the next crisis arises.

6. Focus on your goals

Resilient people are goal-oriented. This helps them to not get thrown off course so easily. Instead of falling into victimhood or brooding during a crisis, they simply devote themselves to their goal and work towards it. As a result, they do not even get caught up in the confusing carousel of thoughts that others often start to turn to in difficult situations.

7. Control your emotions and impulses

When times are bad, you get to know others best. Why? Because in a crisis we often act emotionally and impulsively and show our true selves. The feeling of fear, powerlessness and incapacity to act can easily make us lose control of ourselves. To prevent this from happening, it is worthwhile to look at yourself. 

With a little self-reflection, you quickly notice how you react and when. Each of us has certain behavior patterns. Anyone who knows them can work out how to manoeuvre around them. This is exactly where resilience comes in: it can be used to control and regulate one's own emotional world.

optimistic road

8. Build a stable network

A stable environment is essential in a crisis. During times of uncertainty, this gives us stability. We can share our worries with others, we are strengthened and receive support. But such an environment is not only worth gold in your private life, but also in professional environments. Resilient people can rely on a stable network when they stumble. 

9. Turn your focus outwards: focus on others

Empathy is important, especially in a crisis. How do others feel

about this crisis? Why do they react as they do? Those who can empathise with others experience fewer negative surprises and remain emotionally stable. With empathy, it is also easier to build up and maintain the network mentioned in the previous point. So empathise with yourself and others. This is good for your emotional immune system.

10. Create a healthy work-life balance

If you only live for work, the floor will be torn from under your feet if you plunge into a professional crisis; for example, if you are fired. If you focus too much on your private life, you can easily fall into a hole when the going gets tough. When we suffer defeat in one area, we need another to draw energy from in order to survive it successfully. This is why resilient people have a healthy work-life balance. Thanks to this, they are not thrown off course so quickly if things are not going well somewhere.

At first glance that may seem like a lot that you have to work on for more resilience. But it's also not about learning this skill overnight as part of self-management. It is a process that leads to greater satisfaction, inner-balance and resistance to stress. And when in doubt, never forget: the good thing about a crisis is that it is time-limited. No one crisis can last forever.

Want some help in boosting your mental resilience? Why not take a course to help you learn techniques and coping mechanisms?

Use our free search engine to find and compare programmes on mental health from schools, universities and training providers from around the world.

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Last updated: 12 Jan 2021

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