The most resilient among us make it through the worst of times—and we don’t do it by accident. Are some people born a little more resilient than others? Sure. But make no mistake: Building resilience is something anyone can do—and needs to in order to thrive in the face of stress.
Regardless of how you were brought up, or what lessons you’ve learned along the way, hard times fall into everyone’s lives. The National Opinion Research Center at the University of Chicago has found that 92 percent of Americans report suffering at least one significant negative event in their lifetime, such as losing a job, a loved one, or developing an illness.
Resilient people aren’t luckier—they make a practice of doing the things that keep them afloat. Take a look at the most common habits, actions, and responses of highly resilient people, and start trying at least one of these right now.
1. Don’t blame yourself for everything. When life throws a curveball, resilient people don’t waste energy beating themselves up. Acknowledge what is within your control to fix—and what isn’t. Remember that you’re best served if you focus on moving forward.
2. Reach out. Seek out and surround yourself with supportive people. Anxiety, fear, and loneliness make stress more debilitating; resilient people fight the urge to isolate. One study found that among assault survivors, one of the most important predictors of recovery was social support.
3. Accept help. Know that there is true strength in admitting you can’t handle it all alone. Don’t be afraid to ask for the the support you need. When you feel overwhelmed, delegate. Most importantly, don’t feel guilty about it! Needing and receiving help is part of the human experience—and you’ll likely have a chance to pay it forward.
4. Make peace with the past. Past hurts can take a huge toll on your everyday existence if they are left unprocessed and unresolved. Take some time to sift through your list of grievances and find some peace. Forgiveness is not about the other person—it’s about you. You owe it to yourself to let go and move on.
5. Make sleep a top priority. Sleep has a huge impact on our mental state and coping abilities. Aim for seven or eight hours of sleep a night and practice good bedtime habits. As a result, you will tend to experience fewer stress-related physical complaints and are less likely to suffer from high blood pressure, diabetes, depression, and obesity.
6. Get moving. Resilient people know that they think, behave, and function more effectively when they use their bodies for what they were to designed to do: move. Whether it’s a regular brisk walk, a stretch every hour, or a fitness class, prioritize keeping your body in good shape.
7. Accept change. We often use up a lot of energy trying to plan and predict things we could never plan or predict. Highly resilient people are under no illusion that the world is predictable or within their control. Try to allow things to happen instead of making or forcing them to happen. Change is constant—and adaptability is key to living a happy and healthy life.