How to Be Emotionally Resilient

Three Methods:Focusing on the PositiveBelieving in Yourself and the WorldForgiving Yourself and Others

Emotional resilience is key to maintaining mental and physical health. Positive thinking reduces the destructive physical effects of stress and wards off depression. Optimism also contributes to favorable behavioral outcomes by improving your ability to identify resources to overcome adversity. Try multiple strategies to improve resilience to find which work best for you.

Method 1
Focusing on the Positive

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    Put problems in proper perspective. What feels important today, may not be so important in the future. As circumstances change, so will your appraisal of the situation.
    • Try to find the humor in situations to immediately improve mood and improve your outlook on a particular problem.[1]
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    Spend time doing things you enjoy. Hobbies are a great way to distract you from your worries, and being mindful of pleasant experiences will improve your mood. Hold onto those pleasurable moments, and let go of negative thoughts.[2]
    • Hobbies that include physical activity and social interaction will have a particularly significant impact. Both physical activity and social interaction improve emotional well-being and contribute to resilience, so incorporate them into your routine as often as possible.[3]
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    Reframe the narrative to provide a brighter outlook. You choose how to tell your story. You can choose to highlight examples of strength and moments of joy.[4]
    • If you are struggling to retell your stories in a more positive tone, try telling them from another person's perspective. Assume the role of an observer tasked with finding the beneficial outcomes of specific circumstances.
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    Express gratitude frequently. Focusing on people and things you are grateful for will leave less room for worry, regret, and resentment.[5] It will also improve the mood of those you share your gratitude with, creating a cycle of goodwill. Commit to sharing gratitude with at least three people every day.
    • In addition to expressing gratitude in the moment, you can be more mindful of gratitude by adding designated times to review things you are thankful for daily, or keeping a gratitude journal.

Method 2
Believing in Yourself and the World

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    Trust yourself. You've made it this far, so give yourself some credit. You have survived everything thrown at you up to this point. This is evidence that you can handle anything.[6]
    • Make a list of all the difficult things you have survived to create a visual acknowledgement of your strength and resilience. Your next hardship will just be one more triumph to add to the list.
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    Be open to support from others. It may be hard to share your troubles because you don't trust others to care or be supportive. That is an unfair assessment of most of the population. Give people a chance to show you they care. Sharing your struggles will help you to feel less alone, and the responses of others may reveal untapped resources.[7]
    • If you truly believe nobody in your current social network will understand or support you, seek out new relationships by joining support groups or community organizations.
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    Have faith in the world. This is not a call to go to church, though spirituality does provide many with a sense of meaning and hope.[8] Witnessing the good in the world is not reserved for the religious.
    • If you are struggling to come up with examples of people overcoming adversity, research stories of hope online. You will find instances of people triumphing in circumstances similar to your own.

Method 3
Forgiving Yourself and Others

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    Focus on how you've changed and work to continue to change. Admitting mistakes is hard but the good news is, it isn't necessary to linger on them. Once you've acknowledged your mistakes, quickly shift to ways you can correct your behavior or improve outcomes in the future. Mistakes can be seen as the stepping stones to success.
    • Set realistic goals. You aren't likely to change anything overnight, so set a series of manageable goals that progress you toward your goal. Achieving these smaller goals will provide ongoing boosts to your self-esteem and prevent feeling hopeless when change doesn't happen immediately.[9]
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    Accept others just the way they are. You can't change others, so focusing on their faults will not be a productive use of your time. Focusing your energy on trying to change others is likely to result in feelings of frustration and resentment. You can choose to focus on the things you like about others.
    • If you struggle to find value in another, as is, you may want to reconsider your relationship with that person. Your energy may be better spent establishing new relationships.
    • If you struggle to find value in any of your relationships, you should evaluate your expectations.
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    Make yourself useful. By helping others you will create opportunities for others to express gratitude for you. This will help you find meaning and purpose. Serving others will also shift your focus from your struggles to the struggles of others, helping you to acknowledge your strengths and distract you from your own problems. [10]
    • Getting involved with organizations dedicated to a cause you care about or volunteering in your community are excellent ways to serve others.
    • Serving others is also another opportunity to engage socially with others.
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    Be prepared for set backs. Life rarely happens exactly as we plan, so plan for challenges. Create a plan of action for implementing the strategies you've found the most effective, when you begin to feel frustrated by unexpected turns of events. This will allow you to still feel in control, even when things go wrong.[11]
    • Try writing down your plan for dealing with setbacks, and display it some place you'll see it often, like on the fridge or above your desk. This will help you to be more aware when you start to feel frustrated and quickly implement the plan.


  • A healthy lifestyle contributes to emotional wellbeing and resilience.
  • Resilience develops over time, so be patient and practice regularly.


  • Drugs and alcohol may worsen negative feelings and contribute to negative thinking patterns.
  • If you find you no longer enjoy any activity and feel hopeless, consult a mental health professional. This may be a sign of depression.

Article Info

Categories: Emotional Health