How can I become more emotionally resilient?

Taking steps to look after your wellbeing can help you deal with pressure, and reduce the impact that stress has on your life. This is called developing emotional resilience, which is the ability to adapt and bounce back when something difficult happens in your life.

Make some lifestyle changes

There are some general changes that you can make to your lifestyle that could help you feel more able to cope with pressure and stressful situations. You can:

  • Practice being straightforward and assertive in communicating with others. If people are making unreasonable or unrealistic demands of you, be tell them how you feel and say no
  • Use relaxation techniques. If you know that a certain activity helps you feel more relaxed, make sure you set aside time to do it
  • Develop your interests and hobbies. Finding an activity that is completely different from the things causing you stress is a great way to get away from everyday pressures. If stress is making you feel lonely or isolated, shared hobbies can also be a good way to meet new people
  • Make time for your friends. When you have got a lot going on, this might seem hard, but it can help you feel more positive and less isolated. Chatting to friends about the things you find difficult can help you keep things in perspective, and you can do the same for them. Laughing and smiling with them will also produce hormones that help you to relax
  • Find balance in your life.Y ou may find that one part of your life, such as your job or taking care of young children, is taking up almost all of your time and energy. Try making a decision to focus some of your energy on other parts of your life, like family, friends or hobbies. It is not easy, but this can help spread the weight of pressures in your life, and make everything feel lighter

“When I’m stressed, I take myself away from everyone, into another room or somewhere quiet – even just for five minutes – and sing to myself. Not full on belting out a tune, but just quietly or even humming to myself really calms me down.”

Look after your physical health

Taking steps to look after your physical health can help you manage stress and lessen the impact of stress on your overall mental health. You can:

  • Get good sleep. Stress can make it difficult for you to sleep, and you may develop sleep problems. Being well-rested can increase your ability to deal with difficult situations
  • Be more physically active. Physical activity is important for reducing stress levels and preventing some of the damaging effects of stress on the body
  • Eat healthily. What you eat, how much you eat, and when you eat, can make a big difference to how well you feel and how you respond to stress

Give yourself a break

Learning to be kinder to yourself in general can help you control the amount of pressure you feel in different situations, which can help you feel less stressed.

  • Reward yourself for achievements, even small achievements like finishing a piece of work or making a decision. You can reward yourself by taking a walk, reading a book, treating yourself to food you enjoy, or simply telling yourself ‘well done’
  • Get a change of scenery, for example by going outside, going to a friend’s house, or going to a café, even if it is just for a short time
  • Take a break or holiday. Time away from your normal routine can help you relax and feel refreshed, even if it is as simple as spending a day in a different place
  • Resolve conflicts, if you can. Although this can sometimes be hard, speaking to a manager, colleague, friend or family member about problems in your relationship with them can help you relieve your stress and move forward
  • Forgive yourself when you make a mistake or do not achieve something you hoped to achieve, because nobody is perfect and putting extra pressure on yourself will worsen your feelings of stress

“I distract myself from my […] worry by doing a puzzle or playing a game.”

Use your support network

Remember that whatever you are going through that is causing you stress, you do not have to cope with it alone.

  • Friends and family. Sometimes just telling the people close to you how you’re feeling can make a big difference – and they might be able to help you out in other ways too
  • Support at work, such as your line manager, human resources (HR) department, union representatives, or employee assistance schemes. Try not to worry that talking to your manager or colleagues about stress will be seen as a sign of weakness – your wellbeing is important and responsible employers will take it seriously.
  • Support at university or college, such as your tutors, student union or student services
  • Online peer support. Sometimes sharing your experiences with people who have been through something similar can help you feel less alone
  • Specialist websites and organisations. For example, the Mind Tools website can help you with stress management and assertiveness techniques.
  • Your family doctor. If you feel like you need some professional support, you can speak to your doctor. They can check your overall health, and help you access treatments. They could also recommend that you take some time off work, university or college, and sign a medical note for you
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