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Many people react to life’s challenging experiences with strong emotions and a sense of uncertainty. Yet people generally adapt well over time to changing situations and stressful conditions. Resilience is the process of learning to ‘bounce back’ from adversity, trauma, tragedy and other significant sources of stress.

Resilience is not a trait that people are born with. It involves behaviours, thoughts and actions that can be learned and developed.

A combination of factors contribute to resilience:

· The capacity to make realistic plans and take steps to carry them out

· A positive view of yourself and confidence in your strengths and abilities

· Skills in communication and problem solving

· The capacity to manage strong feelings and impulses.

10 Ways to Build Resilience 

1. Make connections. Good relationships with family members, friends or others are important. Accepting help and support from those who care about you strengthens resilience. Some people find that activity in local groups provides social support. Assisting others in their time of need can also benefit the helper.

2. Avoid seeing crises as insurmountable problems. You can’t stop highly stressful events, but you can change how you interpret and respond to these events. Try looking beyond the present to how future circumstances may be a little better. Note any subtle ways in which you might already feel somewhat better as you deal with difficult situations.

3. Accept that change is a part of living. Certain goals may no longer be attainable as a result of adverse situations. Accepting circumstances that cannot be changed can help you focus on circumstances that you can alter.

4. Move toward your goals. Develop realistic goals. Do something regularly — even if it seems like a small accomplishment — that enables you to move toward your goals. Instead of focusing on tasks that seem unachievable, ask yourself, “What’s one thing I know I can accomplish today that helps me move in the direction I want to go?”

5. Take decisive actions. Act on adverse situations as much as you can. Take decisive actions, rather than detaching completely from problems and stresses and wishing they would just go away.

6. Look for opportunities for self-discovery. People often learn something about themselves and may find that they have grown in some respect as a result of their struggle with loss. Many who have experienced tragedies and hardship have reported better relationships, greater sense of strength even while feeling vulnerable, increased sense of self-worth, a more developed spirituality and heightened appreciation for life.

7. Nurture a positive view of yourself. Developing confidence in your ability to solve problems and trusting your instincts helps build resilience.

8. Keep things in perspective. In trying times, try to consider the stressful situation in a broader context and keep a long-term perspective. Avoid blowing the event out of proportion.

9. Maintain a hopeful outlook. An optimistic outlook enables you to expect that good things will happen in your life. Try visualizing what you want, rather than worrying about what you fear.

10. Take care of yourself. Pay attention to your own needs and feelings. Engage in activities that you enjoy and find relaxing. Exercise regularly. This will help to keep your mind and body primed to deal with situations that require resilience.

While these tips provide a good useful starting point, it is important to remember that the key is to identify ways that are likely to work well for you as part of your own personal strategy for fostering resilience. For example, some people write about their deepest thoughts and feelings related to trauma or other stressful events in their life. Meditation and spiritual practices help some people build connections and restore hope.

Adapted from The Road to Resilience