4 Practices to Build Resiliency: Start Now!

Resiliency, the ability to bounce back when things don't go as planned, is a critical skill to cultivate. Nearly everyone experiences difficult or traumatic life events such an illness, premature death of a family member, unexpected job loss, or a physical assault. And we all recover differently. Some of us seek community; others find faith, convene with nature, throw themselves into work and self-mastery, pursue justice, retreat through isolation or substances, etc. Often, the ways we cope after major life events become the ways we manage smaller, but meaningful, life struggles: the fender bender, the flu season that won't let up, the re-structuring at work, the bills that don't get paid...


Although we cannot stop life's challenges, we can build our capacity to respond to them. Indeed, the most important thing to know about resiliency is that it can be cultivated. There is an endless list of practices to cultivate resiliency, but I like to place them into four major categories:    

  1. Self Awareness: think about your internal knowing and internal dialogue and what practices help you to cultivate that? (Journaling, prayer, mindfully tuning into your senses, etc.)
  2. Self Regulation: think about your body; what practices calm you, what practices balance you, what practices energize you, what practices connect you to emotions, what practices distance you from emotions?
  3. Self Efficacy: think about what you are good at and what you are working to master in your work and life. What activities put you in a state of flow where you don’t even notice the time passing? For some, this may include creative pursuits.
  4. Community: think of how you gain support from friends/family/community/spiritual connections. We are born to be relational and connect; what feeds you and what depletes you? 

Commit to practices that build your resiliency! Some find it helpful to identify daily practices that fit in the categories above; others may prefer to identify short-term (daily practices), mid-term (vacations, community gatherings, classes, 10ks), and long-term goals (moving, starting a new job, obtaining a degree) that foster resiliency. Here's an exercise to get you started:

1) Watch this video from Finding Dory and then give yourself two minutes to quietly breath or do 2 minutes of jumping jacks.

2) Practice a 5 minute grounding technique to tune into your senses. You can use this exercise or download one of the many outstanding smart phone apps like: Calm, Breathe, MindShift, iChill. 

3) Call a friend or family member who you haven't seen in awhile and reconnect, set up a date or plan a gathering for the coming week.

4) Spend 15 min journaling or drawing about what you need to be happy in your life right now. Then commit to doing one thing for yourself over the coming week that will move you one step closer to that goal. Put it on your calendar so you get reminders:)

Good luck. Cultivating resiliency is a choice. It's a practice that will look different for every person. Though we cannot always control what the world brings our way, we do have power over how we respond.


Ali Jost