Build your resilience in 10 steps

Build your resilience in 10 steps

We all face trauma, adversity and other stresses throughout our lives. There are ways however, that can help us adapt to life-altering situations and emerge even stronger than before. Resilience is an “inner strength” that helps us bounce back from stressful situations such as setbacks and difficult events in our lives, including illness.

Developing resilience begins with simple actions or thoughts that can be practiced, including what you’ll do next and learning to accept change. There are many aspects of your life you can control, but by becoming more resilient, you’ll be better equipped to cope with those you can’t.

Being resilient doesn’t mean that you find it easy to deal with difficult or stressful situations or that you won’t feel angry, sad, or worried during tough times. But it does mean that you won’t feel as overwhelmed and that you’ll be more likely to cope with stressful situations in healthy ways.

Here are 10 ways to build resilience:

  1. Change the narrative: When something bad happens, we often relive the event over and over in our heads, rehashing the pain. This process is called rumination. To ease up on rumination, try letting go of what you cannot control; schedule a worry break; try practicing mindfulness; identify your worst-case scenario and ask yourself if you can handle it; get some exercise.
  2. Face your fears: Fear and anxiety are like kidnappers holding you captive, and away from the full life you could be living. For tips on facing your fears, click here.
  3. Build connections: Connecting with empathetic and understanding people can remind us that we’re not alone. Build your relationships with family, friends, colleagues and groups in your community.
  4. Practice self-compassion: Fears and adversity can make us feel alone and leave us asking what is wrong with us. In these situations, practicing self-compassion—and knowing that everyone suffers—can be helpful. Practicing self compassion involves confronting our own suffering with an attitude of kindness and without judgment. Give yourself permission to be less than perfect; remind yourself that you are not alone; practice mindfulness; and practice self care.
  5. Meditate: Our most painful thoughts are usually about the past or the future. Practicing mindfulness brings us more and more into the present, and it offers techniques for dealing with negative emotions when they arise.
  6. Cultivate forgiveness: If holding a grudge is holding you back, research suggests that cultivating forgiveness could be beneficial to your mental and physical health.
  7. Take care of your body. Self-care is a legitimate practice for mental health and building resilience. That’s because stress is just as much physical as it is emotional. Promoting positive lifestyle factors like ample sleep, good nutrition, and daily exercise will help your body to adapt to stress and reduce the burden of anxiety or depression. Here are 15 healthy lifelong habits.
  8. Practice mindfulness. Mindful journaling, yoga, and other spiritual practices like meditation can also help people build connections and find hope. I like to start and end each day with gratitude.
  9. Help others. When you volunteer or extend help to others, you can garner a sense of purpose, foster self-worth, connect with other people and foster resilience.
  10. Embrace healthy thoughts. a) Keep things in perspective. How you think can play a significant part in how you feel — and how resilient you are when faced with obstacles. Try to identify areas of irrational thinking, such as a tendency to catastrophize difficulties. b) Accept change… it’s part of life. Certain goals or ideals may no longer be realistic and accepting this will help you move on to new goals and things you can alter. c) Maintain a hopeful outlook. It’s hard to be positive when life isn’t going your way, but an optimistic outlook empowers and opens you to expect good things that will come. d) Learn from your past. By looking back at who or what was helpful in previous times of distress, you may be able to alter how you respond to new difficult situations.



A marketing communications professional with over 25 years of experience and a fitness instructor/trainer of three decades, Catherine has inspired thousands of Canadians to lead active, healthy lives. Catherine lives in Toronto and has two daughters, ages 21 and 18. Visit Catherine's website