This week I wanted to talk about how we can build our emotional resilience and essentially be better at handling stress and rolling with the punches.
I know some people see resilience as a need to ‘be strong’ all the time, but that’s not how I see emotional resilience. To me it’s more about our ability to bounce back and navigate the waves of life when things get stormy.
I’m sharing some insights from an article I found on the traits of emotionally resilient people and how we can build on these traits ourselves.
You can listen wherever you get your podcasts or listen here:
LINKS AND FURTHER READING:
- Why emotional resilience is a trait you can develop
- Building self-awareness
- Understanding the negativity bias
So this week I really wanna dig into the topic of building our emotional resilience and essentially how we can be better at rolling with the punches. So if you’re feeling the need to beef up your resilience a bit, or if you just wanna learn more about the subject, then you’re in the right place. So settle in, get comfortable, and let’s have a chat.
Hello everyone! Welcome back to the podcast, I hope you’re doing well. So this week we’re talking about emotional resilience. Which is, essentially, how we can handle stress a little bit better and how we can cope with the shit that life sometimes throws at us. Now, this is a really interesting topic because I think resilience can be branded as this thing that we have to be strong all the time and we have to make sure we keep going and stiff upper lip and all of this kind of thing, but that is not how I see emotional resilience.
I see emotional resilience as being able to bounce back from something when something terrible happens. So it doesn’t necessarily mean that you don’t feel the pain of something or you don’t feel the stress of a situation, but it just means that you can – I guess it’s like navigating a ship in a storm. It just means that you’re better equipped to navigate the waves so they don’t completely capsize you, but instead, you’re able to – you’ll still probably have quite a rough time on those waves, but at least you’ll still be standing by the end of it. And that, to me, is what emotional resilience is all about.
So for this episode, I really wanted to do some research and find out what makes someone emotionally resilient and how we can build that up in ourselves. So I found a really helpful article on verywellmind.com, and I’ll make sure to include the link in the shownotes, which talks about what it is that influences emotional resilience. So I thought I would talk through all those different things and then how we can build them up in ourselves.
So to start with, emotional resilience is something to degree all of us are born with. So we all have it, to some degree, which means that some people by nature are gonna be better at handling challenges and changes that come up in life and some people by nature are gonna be less able to cope with those things.
But there are also some factors that are completely out of our hands, such as how old we are, our gender, and also our exposure to trauma.
So with that all being said, even though it is something kind of within us and that we can’t control to some degree, it can be developed. And that’s the really important thing here, is that we can develop it.
So, let’s start by looking at traits of emotional resilience. So these are the characteristics that people who are emotionally resilient tend to share.
So the first one on the list is emotional awareness. And this is essentially people who understand what they’re feeling and why they’re feeling it. And this is something I completely resonate with – this is why I talk about self awareness so much. I find it so important and yeah, I’m glad that that was top of the list! I agree.
The next trait here is perseverance. So this is people who quote-unquote “trust the process” and don’t give up at the first sign of trouble.
The next trait is internal locus of control. So this basically is when someone believes that they are in control of their own lives, rather than outside forces. So, rather than thinking that lots of different things are happening to you, you believe that you are taking control of your life and making decisions. And apparently this trait is associated with less stress because people have a – what does it say here? A realistic view of the world and can therefore be more proactive in dealing with stresses in their lives.
So the next trait is optimism. And this is when people see positives in most situations and believe in their own inner strength. And this can apparently help shift how people will handle problems, from being a victim mentality to an empowered one.
So the next trait here is support. So people who have strong emotional resilience really understand the value of social support and can therefore surround themselves with supportive friends and family.
The next trait on here, which was really interesting to me, was sense of humour. So this apparently can shift one’s perspective from seeing things as a threat to seeing them as a challenge. And it also alters how the body responds to stress. So, this is all about laughing a lot more and the different physical and emotional benefits that brings us. And I just found that really interesting. I’d never considered the idea of laughing a lot and a sense of humour being tied to resilience in that way.
The next trait is perspective. So those who are resilient can learn from their mistakes rather than denying that they happened and they see obstacles as challenges. So this can also help them find meaning in challenges that come up in their lives rather than seeing themselves as victims. Again, the word ‘victim’ has been used a couple of times here and that’s an interesting one to me, is that it’s really about being empowered.
And the last trait on here is spirituality. So being connected to your spiritual side is being linked with stronger emotional resilience. And apparently this is especially the case if you are internally connected rather than just going through the motions. So, I suppose, this means really believing in what you’re doing rather than just attending the services because your parents are dragging you or something like that. And they were quick to highlight here that this doesn’t mean that those who are not spiritual can’t be resilient, only that this connection has been found in research. So that’s interesting!
So, now we know all these different traits that can make us more resilient, how do we build our resilience? And yeah, the answer is to work on these traits and to feed these traits as much as we can.
So, to start with, that means looking at our self awareness. Now, if you’ve been listening to this podcast, or you follow me, or you read my blogs, you’ll know this is something I’m really keen to talk about all the time because I know how important it is. And, in fact, I have a whole podcast episode on this, so do go back to episode 3 if you wanna learn more about building self awareness. But essentially lots of activities like journaling and meditating can really help you here.
Okay, so the next trait we can look to improve is the idea of having a sense of control, so our locus of control. And to do this, really remind yourself that you have a choice in a lot of these things. So this is something that I really try and drill into loved ones, is that you have a choice in how you spend your time. So try and take a moment to review your options when things are looking really hectic or you’re feeling really stressed and make an action plan based on that, putting yourself in control of the situation and reminding yourself that you do have a choice.
Okay, the next trait we’re going to build up is a sense of optimism. Now, you know that I’m not a big fan of toxic positivity. However, I do also acknowledge that our brain has a natural negativity bias, which means we naturally fall that way and it can serve us really well to try to tip the balance. And again, I have got a whole podcast episode on this, episode 5, if you wanna go back and listen to that. But a really easy way to cultivate a sense of optimism is to start a gratitude practice. So start noting down something that you’re grateful for every day and ask yourself, ‘what went well today?’ Try and force yourself to see the positives in a day because we can do that and also accept that a day has been shit., So we can say that was a bad day but hey, you know what? This one thing happened which made it a little bit less bad.
Okay so the next one is all about social support. And I know this is one I talk about every week but it’s backed up by science this time guys! So yeah, lean on your social support, see if there’s any gaps in your support system and how you can potentially fill those gaps.
Now the next trait was all about sense of humour, so laugh more often. Take yourself to a comedy show, find some funny films that you enjoy, watch some silly videos on YouTube if you need to. Just try and tap into your sense of humour more and really reap in those benefits of laughing more often.
Now the next trait was about having perspective. So zoom out when you need to and gain that perspective. Try asking yourself, ‘will this affect me in one year? In five years? In 10 years?’ Try and remind yourself what else is going well in your life right now when stressful situations arise.
And the final thing I wanna comment on is the spirituality piece. So if this is your thing, then lean into it. Read some books from the subject, connect with others who feel the same way. Let this connection help you build your resilience.
And there we have it! A few things you can do right now to start building your emotional resilience. But I do want to caveat these tips with a reminder that these things can be really difficult. Especially in certain socio-economic situations. For example, if you’re in debt and you’re about to be evicted from your home, me telling you to watch a funny film and laugh more often, probably isn’t gonna cut it. So some factors do make it really tough to be resilient and this is why self-care and getting professional support where possible is so, so important. So yeah, I just wanted to highlight that because I don’t think we should be beating ourselves up for not being resilient enough when, especially if our world is falling around us, every situation is so unique and yeah. This stuff is really nuanced.
So that being said, I really hope that you did learn something from today’s episode. I feel like I learned a huge amount from putting it together, and I would really love to hear your thoughts on the subject. So please do reach out to me on Instagram, I’m @katbluejay over there and yeah, I’ll be back next week to talk about how to pull yourself out of a negative thought spiral. So until then, I hope you have a great week, and take care!