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 dwell on problems, feel victimized, become overwhelmed or turn to unhealthy coping mechanisms, such as substance abuse, eating disorders or risky behaviors.

Resilience won't make your problems go away — but resilience can give you the ability to see past them, find enjoyment in life and better handle stress. If you aren't as resilient as you'd like to be, you can develop and learn skills to become more resilient.

Adapting to adversity

Resilience is the ability to adapt to difficult situations. When stress, adversity or trauma strikes, you still experience anger, grief and pain, but you're able to keep functioning — both physically and psychologically. However, resilience isn't about putting up with something difficult, being stoic or figuring it out 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 various mental health conditions, such as depression and anxiety. Resilience can also help offset factors that increase the risk of mental health conditions, such as being bullied or previous trauma. If you have an existing mental health condition, being resilient can improve your coping ability.

A very happy brain


A very happy brain by Dr. Sood

Friends, this is the story of how Broody, a very unhappy brain, became very happy. You see Broody struggled with fear and self-doubt. He felt unsafe and unworthy. He didn't know what to do. Then Broody's friend suggested an idea. Together, they went to school to learn about the brain and about themselves. Come. Let's find out what they learned.

A short course in happiness

Your brain has trillions of junctions that manage millions of its functions. Let's learn about three traits of the brain that in overdrive can get you drained. First trait: Your brain feels others pain as its own. Your brain hurts just the same in personal or beloved's pain. The same neurons fire when you are in despair and when someone else is hurting about whom you care. Second trait: For your brain, imaginary is real. Your brain lights up the same nerve bundles for events real or imagined stumbles. If you dream of a spider on your shin, it might cause the same dread as the real thing. Third trait: The brain can't tell physical pain from emotional hurts. The pain of a mean scorn stings the same as agony of a hurtful thorn. Broken bone and broken heart both cause the same smart. Millennia ago, the spiritual minds described in their devotions, hymns and rhymes the same truths that the scientists of today write in thesis, books, journals and essays: compassion, kindness, gratitude, forgiveness, healing.

What do they all say? To find inner contentment and plenitude, snug yourself in the comfort of gratitude. Your greatest joys come from passions that are lush with true and deep compassion. Once you're lost in healing others and start seeing strangers as brothers, your brain will become the happiest of all -- be it summer, spring, winter or fall. When you pray for others, share their feeling in touching their lives, you will find healing. Help others feel safe and cherished, the joys in your brain will surely flourish. If you agree, then don't wait. Don't miss the feast nor leave it to fate. Start with the one a breath away. In this moment. Now. Today. Start with the one a breath away. In this moment. Now. Today.

Broody, the brain, came back from school with two important concepts: First, seeing others in pain, physical or emotional, fires his own pain network and second, his imaginary fears caused him real damage. The school also taught him solutions to these neural predispositions through cultivating deeper gratitude and compassion.

The daily practice of gratitude and compassion made Broody happier and stronger than ever. He defeated fear and self-doubt and then felt safe and worthy. [Applause] The brains that feel safe and worthy become happy. [MEOW] Happy brains, when they get busy in meaningful, creative and altruistic activities, become very happy. [MEOW]

Here is the secret to a happier life: Because of the way your brain operates the pursuit of gratitude and compassion will make you happier than the pursuit of happiness.

Brought to you by: Amit Sood, M.D., Gauri Sood, @amitsoodmd,, Global Center for Resiliency and Wellbeing

Thank you for your attention. [Giggles]


Tips to improve your resilience

If you'd like to become more resilient, consider these tips:

  • Get connected. Building strong, positive relationships with loved ones and friends can provide you with needed support, guidance and acceptance in good and bad times. Establish other important connections by volunteering or joining a faith or spiritual community.
  • Make every day meaningful. Do something that gives you a sense of accomplishment and purpose every day. Set clear, achievable goals to help you look toward the future with meaning.
  • Learn from experience. Think of how you've coped with hardships in the past. Consider the skills and strategies that helped you through difficult times. You might even write about past experiences in a journal to help you identify positive and negative behavior patterns — and guide your future behavior.
  • Remain hopeful. You can't change the past, but you can always look toward the future. Accepting and even anticipating change makes it easier to adapt and view new challenges with less anxiety.
  • Take care of yourself. Tend to your own needs and feelings. Participate in activities and hobbies you enjoy. Include physical activity in your daily routine. Get plenty of sleep and create consistent bedtime rituals. Eat a healthy diet. Practice stress management and relaxation techniques, such as yoga, meditation, guided imagery, deep breathing or prayer.
  • Be proactive. Don't ignore your problems. Instead, figure out what needs to be done, make a plan and take action. Although it can take time to recover from a major setback, traumatic event or loss, know that your situation can improve if you work at it.

When to seek professional advice

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

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July 14, 2022 See more In-depth