Emotional Resiliency During Stressful Times

Emotional Resiliency During Stressful Times

By Sylvia A. Klatt, Psy.D.

                                           “Rule 1: Don’t sweat the small stuff.

Rule 2:  It’s all small stuff.

       Rule 3:  If you can’t fight or flee, then flow.”   

                                                                                                                                    —Robert Elliot


At some point or another, stress impacts our lives. From the day-to-day grind of life, family, work and school to the challenges of poor health, financial difficulties, unemployment and grief or loss, stress can take an emotional and physical toll on us.  Increased resiliency helps us navigate through life’s adversities and manage stress with greater success and balance.  Resiliency is a trait defined by one’s ability to confront challenges, accept them, and keep moving forward.  It is influenced by our attitudes, perceptions and expectations.  Positive actions and thoughts result in greater resiliency.

Utilizing strategies to increase stress management and resilience can help us weather the challenges and have a better quality of life during hard times.   Below are some strategies to boost your emotional resilience:

  • Be accepting of yourself – have a compassionate attitude towards yourself and don’t be too self-critical; have realistic expectations and accept your limitations.


  • Accept adversity and change – don’t dwell on negatives and losses; switch your focus to positive, problem-solving actions; adversity creates opportunities to learn, grow and change, enriching your life experiences.


  • Self-worth and self-esteem are unconditional – they are not contingent on another person, job, material success or situation; do not be dependent on achievements, successes or opinions of others to define who you are and what you are capable of achieving.


  • Practice good self-care – balance your physical and psychological needs for exercise, nutrition, rest and recreation; nourish and nurture your body and mind.


  • Avoid excessive use of alcohol or drugs – “self-medication” to escape and avoid stressors counteracts positivity and resiliency; attempting to lessen your pain through substance abuse often results in more pain, dysfunction, loss of control, poor judgment and bad decision-making.


  • Be aware of toxic thought patterns – perceptions, attitudes and interpretations determine how change affects you; negative, “all or none”, “black or white”, absolute, catastrophizing, irrational thoughts are paralyzing and limit your ability to cope with and manage stress and adversity.


  • Rediscover your strengths or find new ones – remember your abilities and accomplishments to motivate, create, grow and change.


  • Focus on what you can control, not what you cannot control – be solution-focused, not problem-focused; realize and take control when you can to make changes and accept when you cannot; don’t try to control the uncontrollable.


  • Learn to take time for you, not away from you – it’s o.k. to say “no”; set limits, prioritize and delegate; relax, pamper, enjoy your time your way.


  • Establish supportive, meaningful relationships – you are not alone; mutual give-and-take support from friends, family members and your community helps you become more resilient when faced with stressful challenges.


  • Laugh often and laugh loud – find humor in life and don’t forget to share it with others


  • Talk to a professional – seeking help is not a weakness, it demonstrates strength and courage to know and accept that help is needed; you will learn more about yourself and how to grow through times of uncertainty and change.  Doing what we can to increase our resiliency before a crisis arises will enable us to better manage adversity and uncertainties, as well as, assist us in our day-to-day lives.  Resiliency leads one to focus on the now, take advantage of opportunities and look for meaning and purpose in life.





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