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How to Build Emotional Resilience

What is Emotional Resilience

Emotional resilience is the ability to adapt and bounce back when something difficult happens in our lives. More resilient people ‘roll with the punches’, adapting to adversity without lasting difficulties, while less resilient people find it harder to cope with stress and change.

To implement changes straight away you can download Building Emotional Resilience

Why is Emotional Resilience Important?

As well as helping us handle experiences that would otherwise overwhelm us, emotional resilience enables us to maintain balance in our lives during difficult or stressful periods. Crucially, strong emotional resilience can also protect us from developing certain mental health difficulties and issues. We struggle less with overwhelm, worry, anxiety and generally feel more in control of things which, feels good and is a better place to be for ourselves and those we love.

Back to Basics

If you want to develop more emotional resilience, start by addressing your overall sense of wellbeing. You need a solid foundation to work from, so basic things like getting enough sleep, eating well, moving your body, and building a consistent daily routine are vital. Self-compassion is also key. You can read more about this valuable skill here.

Maintaining our mood plays an important role in resilience, life can be really busy and easily become all about chores ensuring a balance of mood-enhancing activities is vital you can learn more by downloading this free guide Mood Builder – learn how to improve your mood

It’s important to connect with other people too. Humans are social beings with an innate need to feel part of a community. Millions of years ago, our survival depended on us being socially connected, so when we become isolated, we feel unsafe and vulnerable.

Feeling supported and cared for also increases emotional resilience, so if you’re dealing with a stressful situation or crisis, it’s a good idea to lean on your community and ask for help.

Practice Positivity and Lean into Difficulty

Positive emotions are like muscles; if you don’t use them, you’ll lose them. You can practice developing positive emotions by thinking about how you want to feel and where you’d experience that feeling in your body. It’s not just about thinking positively, it’s about developing and practising the positive emotional environment internally. The American psychiatrist, Rick Hanson, talks about this in terms of achieving lasting happiness here.

We often aim to avoid negative emotions, but for emotional wellbeing and resilience, we need to experience and tolerate the whole range of emotions. The more we block or avoid things, the more difficult they become because we never develop any coping mechanisms.

Have you ever heard the phrase ‘what you resist persists’? There’s a lot of truth to this idea. For example, when we try to avoid feelings of anxiety, the brain tunes into them even more because we must first notice anxiety in order to push it away. When we’re open to experiencing and dealing with it, the brain sees anxiety as less of a threat.

Mindfulness helps us be in the moment and creates space for us to experience emotions. When we’re not being mindful, we’re often busy thinking about what we need to do or what we should have done. People who struggle with emotional resilience tend to spend too much time in their mind, trying to think their way out of things. To process certain emotions like grief, we need to feel and work through them.

Develop a supportive inner voice

Having an inner critical voice makes us less emotionally resilient and is often a key maintaining factor for low self-esteem, depression, anxiety along with impacting our physical wellbeing.

Softening your inner voice to support you and coach you through difficult times will be the most helpful thing you can do for your psychological health, you will be more resilient for what life throws at you feel more in control and happier.

It’s time to start journaling

We go to the gym we eat healthy food we keep on top of learning but so often we neglect investing any time in building resilience for our mind. our minds is one of our most precious assets and it also needs some nourishment. Journaling has proven results in reducing stress and building emotional resilience. A regular journaling practise will help you gain clarity about the situations and things that cause you to react emotionally – whether in a good way or a bad way! It’s only once you have this awareness that you’re able to actively engage with the things that make you feel good and disengage from those that make you feel bad.

With the increased self-awareness that comes from journaling, we develop increased choices about how we react to things and how we can support ourselves increasing emotional resilience so we can bounce back when something difficult happens in our life.

Writing down how you’re feeling and what’s causing you to feel that way helps release the intensity of these feelings. The emotional and subjective right-side of the brain is instantly able to share the weight of your worries with the logical, rational left-side.

Cognitive Flexibility

Our thoughts impact how we feel and what we do, but thoughts aren’t facts, they’re just thoughts. Our emotions come from the limbic part of the brain and they’re not always connected to logic. For this reason, developing good cognitive flexibility can also help strengthen your emotional resilience. When something feels challenging or difficult, try asking yourself five times whether there’s another way of thinking about it.

Journaling is a great way to process what happens to us each day and assess our patterns of thinking over time. Writing can be just as good as talking, and like a 24-hour-therapist, it’s something that’s always there for you.

Remember to journal the good things too. Ask yourself what’s going well and what you’re feeling grateful for. This can help you identify restorative activities and emotionally draining ones. It’s easy to spend too much time doing chores and not enough time doing things that nourish and restore us. For obvious reasons, prioritising the latter will help make you more resilient.

If you’re new to journaling, The CBT Journal is a good place to start. Blending elements of Cognitive Behavioural Therapy with the practice of journaling, it’s designed to make you more aware of how you think, feel and act. This process encourages reflection and enables change, helping you cultivate the best version of yourself. To learn more about the link between CBT and Journaling check out this blog whats the link between journaling and cbt

How Emotionally Resilient Are You?

If you’ve found this blog interesting and you’d like to learn more download your 10-page guide on building emotional resilience here’s the link.

 

It covers everything I go through in the first few CBT sessions with new clients I hope you find it helpful

 

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Comments

  1. Vannessa Williams says

    I have read your blog found very useful in understanding
    How to deal with my emotional wellness

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Sarah Rees

Sarah is a fully accredited Cognitive Behavioural Therapist and mental health writer delivering Modern Mental Health for you and with you in Mind. Sarah is the author of ‘The CBT Journal’ which helps you write for your wellbeing incorporating CBT techniques. For more information and to keep in touch have a look at sarahdrees.co.uk.