Adulting, College, Parenting, Positive Psychology

10 Ways to Build Resilience

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Did you know that one in four college students struggles with their mental health? This is not a surprise, given how stressful college can be. Students leave behind the familiarity of home and their established support systems to live and learn with a bunch of strangers. This is why I speak at conferences and write about the importance of preparing for the transition to college. It’s also why building resilience is so important.

As I’ve noted before, even the best laid plans come with hiccups and leave room for stress and struggle. To ensure success in college (and life in general!), it’s important to be resilient. That way the inevitable curve balls that life throws you will be taken in stride. Your world won’t crumble.

Here are ten ways you can start fostering your resilience:

1. Make Connections

Good relationships with close family members, friends, or others are important. Research suggests that relationships with others is a major factor in overall happiness. Even relationships that are not especially deep and intimate contribute to resilience. For example, connections through volunteering (short-term and long-term) help.

2. Change Your Perspective

Stress and obstacles are inevitable. You can’t change that, but you can change how you perceive these events. Instead of accepting your initial negative interpretation to events, challenge those assumptions. Try to think of a more balanced reaction. You can also employ a growth mindset and look at challenges as opportunities to grow.

3. Accept What You Cannot Control

Trying to constantly fight against change and trying to control every aspect of your life is a recipe for misery.

4. Keep Your Eye on the Prize

Develop some realistic goals. Then, do something every day that brings you one step closer towards achieving your goals. Even in the face of adversity, there’s always one thing (no matter how teeny tiny) that you can do move forward in life.

5. Stay in the Present Moment

When faced with challenges, it’s easy to become panicked. You might start thinking of all the potential negative consequences waiting for you in the future. Sometimes people will retreat into obsessing over what happened in the past. Instead, try to stay in the present moment and focus on what you’re able to do. Then do it!

6. Look for Growth Opportunities

You’ve likely read many stories of people learning a profound life lesson as the result of personal tragedy. Or perhaps listened to a podcast where someone learned something new about themselves as a result of tough circumstances. Take this same approach. Look for similar growth opportunities in the midst of your struggle.

7. Build Positive Self-Image

If you believe you’re incapable of problem-solving or think you have bad instincts, you won’t fair well against tough situations. Part of being resilient is believing that you are capable of handling setbacks. Be intentional about remembering your strengths and capabilities. It’ll help you feel confident and capable when faced with hardship.

8. Cultivate Self-Compassion

Some people have the tendency to become self-critical when confronted with challenges in their life. Instead, try to cultivate a self-compassionate response. Learn more about self-compassion here.

9. Maintain Hope

There’s this concept in psychology called self-fulfilling prophecy. Essentially, it states that, whatever you believe, will come true. If you believe you’re going to fail, then you act in a way that contributes to failing. But if you have hope for the future, then you act in a way that brings positivity into your life.

10. Engage in Self-Care

Resilience doesn’t mean you need to be super human. Self-care is actually an essential part of emotion regulation and resilience. If you are already struggling emotionally or physically, then handling negativity is much more difficult. Think about running a marathon in perfect health versus running a marathon with a broken foot. Which do you think is easier? 


Do you need support fostering resilience in yourself or your child? Contact Dr. Crystal I. Lee for a free 20 minute consultation to see how she can help.

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