Every day is full of tough challenges, but it’s how we respond that is important. Learning to roll with the punches can transform your outlook and your life
You know those days, when from the moment you get up you feel stressed – the kids can’t find their PE kit, the trains are delayed and, to top it off, the minute you walk into the office there’s an email from your boss asking you to prepare a report by 9.30am?
We’ve all been there. Some roll with the punches and keep their cool, while others immediately feel stressed, and it spills into the rest of the day. Depending on the challenges we’re facing at home or work, our ability to deal with the pressure will differ.
What keeps us healthy is our response. Almost everything in life can create stress, so it is essential we become emotionally resilient, to deal with those challenges. Being emotionally resilient is all about being a great self-manager. It’s about choosing responses that support you in the face of adversity.
Quite often in my workshops I hear people say: “I’m just not naturally a resilient person.” The good news is you can cultivate resilience – the brain is just another muscle, and the more you flex it, the stronger it becomes.
Here’s a guide to building emotional resilience:
1. Accept yourself
Unconditional self-acceptance, learning how to be “comfortable in your own skin”, is the most important resilience skill of all. In a society driven by likes and clicks, it’s easy to get caught up in a social media bubble and have unrealistic expectations.
Stop comparing yourself to others, and rather than focus on your imperfections, focus on your strengths. I regularly write down affirmations that focus on my qualities. Try writing down three things every day, and pop them somewhere you can see them. Cultivate more of what you want, instead of what you don’t.
2. Where attention goes, energy flows
Our brains are naturally wired to focus on negative thinking, so try practising optimism and positivity. The key to optimism is to make loads of noise around your successes, and not to dwell on your failures. I like to use my mistakes as an opportunity to learn and develop, rather than beat myself up.
3. Learn to let go
Emotionally resilient people know that always being right will not necessarily make them happy. While it’s nice to be right, it’s better to be happy, so picking fights isn’t always worth it. Try letting go of any fixed attitudes that say people should love you, praise you, be grateful to you, or return favours – you will find life becomes a lot more relaxed. Have a think about how you can change your responses to create positive growth in your life.
Mindfulness and meditation are great tools to cultivate emotional detachment. There are loads of ways to be mindful – try baking, walking, gardening, or anything that relaxes you and helps you switch off.
4. Put you on your to-do list
Self-care is a lifestyle, and if you want to be more emotionally resilient, then self-care needs to become non-negotiable. Having a commitment to yourself strengthens your emotional wellbeing. Go-to stress busters can range from exercise and meditation, to a cup of tea and a good book. Taking that time out for yourself is essential, so start by putting you on your to-do list.
5. Gratitude is the attitude
I use the practice of gratitude to make sure my day starts off on the right vibe. Before I reach for my first cuppa of the day, I remind myself of three things I’m grateful for. Gratitude puts situations into perspective. When we can see the good as well as the bad, it becomes more difficult to complain and be negative. This resets the brain into thinking positively, focusing on what you do have, rather than what you don’t. Gratitude diaries are great for recording all the things you are grateful for.
6. It’s nice to be nice
My papa always told me it’s nice to be nice, and he was right – it’s good for the soul. When you do something nice for others, you feel good and this releases endorphins. Research by the London School of Economics found those who volunteer are happier. But, you don’t have to do big things – try smiling at a stranger or giving a compliment.
When it comes to emotional resilience, consistency is key, so find what works for you, and build it into your daily routine.