Resilience: Build skills to endure hardship

Resilience means being able to adapt to life's misfortunes and setbacks. Test your resilience level and get tips to build your own resilience.

By Mayo Clinic Staff

When something goes wrong, do you tend to bounce back or fall apart?

When you have resilience, you harness the inner strength that helps you rebound from a setback or challenge, such as a job loss, an illness, a disaster or a loved one's death. If you lack resilience, you might get stuck on problems or feel like a victim. You might feel burdened or turn to ways to cope that aren't healthy, such as drug or alcohol use, eating disorders, or risky behaviors.

Resilience won't make your problems go away. But resilience can help you see past them, find ways to enjoy life and better handle stress. If you aren't as resilient as you'd like to be, you can learn skills to become more resilient.

Adapting to tough times

Resilience means being able to cope with tough events. When something bad happens, you still feel anger, grief and pain. But you're able to keep going, both physically and psychologically. Resilience isn't about putting up with something tough or coping on your own. In fact, being able to reach out to others for support is a key part of being resilient.

Resilience and mental health

Resilience can help protect you from mental health conditions, such as depression and anxiety. Resilience also can help you deal with things that increase the risk of mental health conditions, such as being bullied or having trauma. If you have a mental health condition, being resilient can help you cope better.

Tips to improve your resilience

If you'd like to become more resilient, try some of these tips:

  • Get connected. Building strong, healthy relationships with loved ones and friends can give you needed support and help guide you in good and bad times. Connect with others by volunteering or joining a faith or spiritual group.
  • Make every day have meaning. Do something that gives you a sense of success and purpose every day. Set clear goals that you can reach to help you look toward the future with meaning.
  • Learn from the past. Think of how you've coped with troubles in the past. Think about what has helped you through tough times. You can even write about past events in a journal to help you see the patterns of how you behave and to help guide you in the future.
  • Stay hopeful. You can't change the past, but you can always look toward the future. Being open to change makes it easier to adapt and view new challenges with less worry.
  • Take care of yourself. Tend to your own needs and feelings. Do activities and hobbies you enjoy. Include physical activity in your daily routine. Get plenty of sleep and make bedtime rituals. Eat a healthy diet. Practice how to manage stress. Try ways to relax, such as yoga, meditation, guided imagery, deep breathing or prayer.
  • Take action. Don't ignore your problems. Instead, figure out what you need to do, make a plan and take action. It can take time to recover from a major setback, trauma or loss. But know that your life can improve if you work at it.

When to seek professional advice

Getting more resilient takes time and practice. If you don't feel you're making progress or you don't know where to start, talk with a mental health professional. With guidance, you can improve your resiliency and mental well-being.

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Dec. 23, 2023 See more In-depth