How to Build Resilience During Tough Times

DC Metro Sleep and PsychotherapyEMDR

An important question that I am asking my clients right now is: How are you coping with everything going on? This is an emotional and anxiety-filled time and many of us are experiencing higher levels of stress. The pandemic coupled with nationwide unrest is causing a lot of distress. What is important to notice is how we deal with these challenges. Do you find yourself stuck on how hard things are for you? Or do you embrace a challenge and think about how to move forward? 

During difficult times, growth is possible. And the most challenging times present the best opportunity to build resilience. Resilience is the ability to deal with adversity and move forward. It is not a quality that you either have or don’t have. It can be learned. It is all about how your brain handles stress and bounces back after a difficult experience. Here are some strategies that can help you to build resilience. 

Reframe How You See the Situation

Reframing is seeing a situation from a different, and more optimistic, perspective. We decide how we interpret adversity that we face. This is why two people who go through the same situation might experience it in very different ways. Reframing involves challenging our beliefs and assumptions and finding a more positive way of seeing something difficult. 

For example, when I work with people with insomnia in my practice, reframing is an important part of therapy. You can have a sleepless night and think “oh no, I am going to feel awful tomorrow and I won’t be able to function” and spiral downward from there. Or you can say to yourself, “no big deal, I can just watch a few shows, catch up on reading and I’ll be tired tomorrow, but I’ll be ok.” These are two very different ways of looking at the same situation. Reframing the events going on around us now is more difficult, but it is still possible.

Remember That This Moment Will End

This, too, shall pass. In moments of struggle, it is important to remember that it will end. Challenge yourself to look beyond the present and into the future when things will be better. And when you start to think this will never happen, remind yourself that it will. No moment in time is permanent. And how you think about what is to come is important as well. 

Think Positively About the Future

Having a mental image of positive things to come will help you to build resilience. Athletes, for example, practice this before competitions and it’s helpful for all of us during difficult times. During the pandemic and stay-at-home orders, it has been hard for many people to find things to look forward to. Optimism about the future not only helps you build resilience, but it also impacts you physically. 

Your ability to be optimistic in difficult times is directly linked to your health. A Johns Hopkins study found that positive thinkers were less likely to experience cardiovascular disease. And a new study led by University College London found a link between repetitive negative thinking and dementia. Now, more than ever, it’s important to maintain a hopeful outlook.  

Practice Self Care

It’s important to engage in activities that you enjoy and that feel relaxing and rejuvenating. Exercise, meditation, and time outside are all examples of positive activities that can help with building resilience. Give yourself a break from the news and social media. Find safe ways to connect with friends and family. Take care of yourself so you can take care of others. 


Ask For Help If You Need It

These are tough times, but research shows that people who have experienced more hardships exhibit higher levels of resilience. If you are struggling right now, therapy can help. Therapists who understand that resilience is a neuroplastic process can teach you strategies that will help build resilience. Want to learn more about resilience? Contact us for a free consultation.  

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