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At the end of the day, you know what resilience techniques work for you

Resilience is a tricky thing. It would be hard to imagine a person who just is never affected by anything (although I am sure they exist). But, maybe resilience doesn’t have to be defined so strictly.

In fact, I don’t think I would ever say resilience is just one thing. It is many different things in many different moments. We are human and have hundreds of experiences every day let alone throughout a month or a year. These aren’t just individual experiences either. Some events, and stressors in particular, are so intense and happen nationally and globally affecting millions if not billions of people.

Knowing all of this, I would say it is fair to think resilience is something we all experience just by simply living another day.

We don’t have to stop there. Actually, the most common resilience path and response to stress is actually to feel worse, at least for a bit. So, if someone is feeling worse for a bit (and as they should when they are facing a stressful situation), perhaps we can reframe that as on the path to resilience. After some time, that feeling of “worse” tends to lift and we return to normal and potentially even feel better than before.

So, why am I saying all of this?

Because, although we are resilient, if you are anything like me, I am sure there are also times where you feel worn out or wishing the resilience process wasn’t so hard and jarring. Or sometimes the process doesn’t play out how we hope and we end up feeling worse. In these cases, maybe there is something we can do to be more resilient and take back the power within ourselves to overcome obstacles.

And there totally are ways to be more resilient. But which ways are the best? And do all of the different ways of becoming more resilient affect our own outcomes the way we think? There are hundreds of research articles out there looking at this question. Luckily, some researchers (Liu and colleagues, 2020) went through and looked at each one of these articles to assess the answers to these questions.

In their article, they found that there were 268 studies that collected over 1500 samples! From this huge number of studies, we should be able to make some conclusions? Right? Right. But, it does also bring to our attention a few more questions that we should be thinking about.

What to expect from this post:

  • A definition for resilience

  • A couple of examples of what these examples could mean for your actual day-to-day life.

Let’s start with a definition.

Definition of resilience – Anything that reflects an individual’s ability to recover or respond to challenges in an adaptive manner (something that made them not feel the effects of the stress that didn’t also damage them in the process). Some may say it is a trait within the individual and others characterize resilience as more about how the person is interacting with the environment. This leaves a pretty broad definition to work with and it allowed the researchers to look into studies that tried to increase resilience in well-studied ways (e.g., cognitive behavioral therapy), but also in alternative ways (e.g., music therapy).

And that was the first main point of these studies the authors found: can we increase resilience? Yes. Does it matter for various outcomes? Yes. If you want more specifics, please check out our write-up of this report. What I want to do here is mostly give some real-life examples of how we can apply these findings.

A couple of examples of what these examples could mean for your actual day-to-day life.

Example 1: A positive example