Life is increasingly becoming more stressful. In particular the last two years have been the most challenging faced in modern society. Many people have struggled, and a lot of this can be linked to increased stress levels. Our last blog covered what stress is, the symptoms and how to cope with it. This article offers wellbeing techniques you can implement with the aim of building emotional resilience. This will give you tools that can support you long term to help you cope with stress. 

Resilience is the capacity to recover or bounce back from difficulties. Life is tough, and the one thing we can guarantee is that you will go through some difficulties. Improving your resilience can help you cope with these difficulties better and help you move forward more quickly. All human beings have been unknowingly building resilience skills from birth. It is a natural instinct, however that doesn’t mean those skills can’t be improved. 


Resilience is a natural instinct


When we are born, we know nothing about our environment or what we need to survive. We do however have natural survival instincts to eat, breathe, move, cry etc. We build resilience skills to help us deal with challenges and adversity, for example learning to walk. Our resilience skills are supported by our innate resources which we are born with. They include our abilities to learn from experience, remember, plan, judge, imagine, relate, empathise, and understand morality etc. These innate resources develop constantly as we grow into adulthood. Our experiences as a child will impact how they develop. For example, a child who is not encouraged to learn or interact with others may lack imagination. 

Our resilience skills are how we cope with difficulties, including stressful events. The way we react when under stress is different for everyone. We may become angry, sad, motivated, tearful or resentful. Stress is a useful tool and will assist you in times of danger such as escaping from a burning building. It will help you prepare for events for example for an important presentation or a performance on stage. It allows your attention to become focused so you can respond quickly and accurately to the current situation. Stress creates changes within our bodies to allow us to cope with the situation. Our heart rate and blood pressure will increase and adrenaline and cortisol will course through our body. As a result we become more alert, stronger and faster. 


Resilience and the impact on our brain


In very simple terms our brain has two parts; the “thinking brain” (cortex) and the “emotional brain” (limbic). The cortex is the brain we use to problem solve and where our thoughts and reasoning develop. Our resilience resides in this part of the brain. When we are faced with a difficulty, what do we need to do to resolve the difficulty? The limbic brain contains our emotions and feelings about situations. When we are stressed, we automatically start using this area of the brain. We may panic and our rational thinking switches off. So just as stress switches off the thinking brain, resilience switches it back on again. Practicing resilience techniques improves the speed at which we can switch between our emotional and thinking brains. 


Tips to improve resilience


Meeting our emotional needs is key 

Our emotional brain is programmed to get our emotional needs met well. These needs, such as having a sense of control, community, security, intimacy, achievement and purpose. When they are met well in balance, it makes us emotionally stronger and more resilient. Think of it like a suit of armour. The more unbalanced our lives are, the more emotionally fragile we are. Take an emotional needs audit of your own needs here. 


Positive thoughts and behaviours build resilience

Build positive beliefs in your own abilities. Believing you can achieve something is the first step to actually achieving it. You may make some mistakes but remaining optimistic will help you achieve your goals. 

The only thing that is certain in life is change. Accepting and embracing change and uncertainty allows you to be more flexible and adaptable. This in turn will improve your resilience to future problems and situations that may arise. 

Understand what is in your control and what isn’t. If you can’t control a situation then there is very little you can do to change the outcome. Feelings of overwhelm can be significantly reduced by only considering the things you can change. This can make the scenario seem less demanding and easier to resolve.


Looking after yourself improves resilience

Be aware and look after your own needs. You won’t be able to solve any problem if you are exhausted and run down. When stressed it is common for your focus to shift away from yourself. Common symptoms of stress include sleep deprivation, unhealthy eating, reduced exercise and relaxation. And the healthier you are, the more energy you will have to focus on the issues. Resilience grows from your wellbeing, so always focus on yourself first. Eating healthily and staying hydrated are key to good physical and mental wellbeing. A regular sleep pattern and exercise will also help you maintain lower levels of stress. Spending quality time each day in a relaxed state will help keep you focused on your priority tasks.

Being kind to yourself and understanding that you are not perfect and will make mistakes will improve your resilience. Nobody gets everything right all of the time. Accepting that you will make wrong choices or upset or hurt people you love will make it easier to cope. When these situations occur, it is important to do your best to put things right and forgive yourself. You may not get the outcome you desire but beating yourself up about it is not going to change the situation. 


Developing your personal skills can improve resilience

Personal growth should be constant and it is important to continuously consider areas where you can develop. This doesn’t have to be a dedicated task, such as an online course; it may be learning from an experience or an opportunity in life. You may admire the way someone else does something and consider how you could improve your own reactions to situations. As you adapt and grow, these changes increase your resilience to possible future situations that may occur. Your experience and consideration of different solutions grows over time. 

Improving your organisational skills can help you to prioritise your tasks better. Think about tasks which have to be done, which should be done and ones which could be left undone. This will allow you to focus your energy in the right areas and will probably cut your list in half. 


Resilience grows within a community

Feeling a connection to our community is one of our basic emotional needs. Developing strong supportive social circles will improve your resilience. Whilst family and friends will not always be able to solve your problems, they will be able to support you. It is this support that helps you feel able to tackle the situation. A supportive network will boost your confidence, provide feedback and offer solutions. Sometimes just knowing someone truly wants the best for you can give you the encouragement you need. 

Every individual is unique and has a different set of skills, knowledge and experience. We all view the world in a slightly different way. As a community we can pool our skills together. This togetherness creates reciprocal relationships whereby we all learn from each other. 


Humans are social beings

Often issues associated with poor wellbeing or mental health stem from a lack of social interaction. Our world is increasingly moving towards a digital online culture and loneliness and isolation are also increasing. The last two years have emphasised just how important social connectedness is to our mental health and wellbeing. The pandemic had a detrimental effect on our ability to connect with others. As restrictions are lifted it is important to focus on how crucial connections with others are. Many organisations have introduced or increased elements of flexible working, which is great. However it is also important to consider how important face to face engagement with our colleagues can be. 



Relationships with other people is such an important aspect of our lives. Increased rates of stress are frequently linked with loneliness. Social connections with other people naturally boost your happiness levels. Research has shown the more socially connected people are the happier and physically healthier they are. Social connection provides you with a sense of belonging as well as feeling supportive, loved and needed. 


Social activities

Social activities provide both meaning and purpose to our lives. These activities could include work, school, hobbies, sport or volunteering. They allow us to focus on something outside of ourselves. This can temporarily distract us from our worries and concerns. Socialising can also provide us with an opportunity to help others. Supporting and helping others is very good for improving our mental health and our resilience. By helping others, we can gain positive perspectives on our own problems which in turn improves our resilience. 

If you would like to discuss how you can improve your own resilience or reduce your stress levels then please contact us for a free consultation. Or why not head over to our website for more information and interesting articles. 

With warmest wishes 


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