Stand up to stress: Building emotional resilience
Emotional resilience is your ability to respond to stressful or unexpected situations and crises. It is important to build up your emotional resilience as in your apprenticeship or at work there can be many unexpected situations and challenges you need to face.
Some ways in which you can help build your emotional resilience are explained here.
Practicing mindfulness can be a good way to help build your emotional resilience. Mindfulness isn’t just one specific exercise, there are many ways you can practice mindfulness. It is important to trial different activities to find out what works best for you. The charity Mind has some good advice on mindfulness here.
Practicing acceptance is another useful way to prepare yourself to be emotionally resilient to the things that life throws at you. Accepting yourself (your flaws, imperfections, beauty, intelligence), accepting mistakes, and accepting the successes.
How do I accept myself?
Some ways to do this are as follows. Be kind to yourself. Talk to yourself like you would talk to a good friend. Identify your strengths and embrace what makes you unique. Let go of the things you can’t change. Forgive yourself for things that happened in the past, and don’t listen to your inner critic.
Give yourself the freedom to be human; recognise your thoughts and feelings, forgive yourself, and learn from your mistakes. Set yourself realistic goals, and celebrate when you achieve them. Be proud of yourself and your achievements, big or small.
How do I accept situations I cannot change?
When things don’t go your way, know that it will be okay. Take emotion and judgements out of it, and take an honest look at the facts. Reflect on what happened and all the factors that affected the outcome.
Make a plan – often situations are out of our control, but knowing you have options can make these situations a lot easier to accept. Focus on the things you can change and put positive energy into these.
Reach out to others for support when you need it, and be there for others in return.
Practicing self-care is another useful way of building your emotional resilience and managing your response to anxiety-inducing activities, making them feel less intense. A good way to practice self-care is by making time to do something you enjoy every day. You could also reward yourself for successes (no matter how small), spend time on your hobbies, and look after your physical health.
Build your support network
Your support network might include friends, family, people who share your hobbies or interests, colleagues, your coach, a mentor or other apprentices. Research has shown that having a good support network can help to build resilience and make stress easier to manage. Take time to nurture these relationships and they can be very rewarding.
Find the positive
When your mental health is suffering, it can be easy to see the negative in every situation. Try to look for the bright side instead – new ways of working may bring new opportunities, new people may bring new ideas or friendships, spending a lot of time on your apprenticeship will better prepare you for your career, and so on. It can take some time to train your brain to think positively but the effects will last a long time. Some situations won’t have a positive side and that’s okay too – your acceptance skills will help you cope.
Allow yourself to be imperfect
Nobody is perfect. With social media, it’s much easier to share successes than failures. Remember that what you see is a small snapshot into others’ lives. Allow yourself to be imperfect, different, or have a unique mindset. Be kind to yourself. Accept your struggles and challenges and reflect on what these teach you and how these can make you a stronger person.
Face your fears
If there is something that is making you anxious, turn outward. Speaking to the people around you can help you to understand and process the situation. This could be anyone in your support network. You might find that different perspectives give you a new outlook, a colleague may help tackle the issue with you, or simply discussing it with a friend might relieve the anxiety.
At times it might seem like the world is closing in, but know you can get through anything. Building emotional resilience is about finding coping techniques to help you manage the difficult situation. Try building these strategies into your routine and, in time, you will see an increase in your overall emotional resilience.