Emotional Resiliency: A Brief Guide for Coping with Stress, Anxiety, and Depression

Emotional Vulnerability
March 17, 2023

Why is it that some people can seemingly take emotional hit after hit and keep on going and be seemingly unphased? Today we’re looking at emotional resilience, how to build resiliency, and how it can aid someone experiencing difficult situations. Emotional resilience is adapting and coping with challenging or stressful situations effectively and healthily. Resilience involves the ability to ‘bounce back’ from difficult experiences, regulate emotions, and maintain a positive outlook. At times it seems as though some people are naturally gifted with this trait; however, most research indicates emotional resilience is a skill that can be developed and strengthened over time. Through a variety of methods which we’ll look at here, we will discuss some ways in which emotional resilience can be cultivated and implemented.

Identifying Triggers

Identifying one’s triggers is integral to emotional regulation and personal growth. A trigger can be anything, as it is unique to an individual and their experiences. Triggers set off an intense emotional or physical response, often relating to past trauma experiences, beliefs, values, or situations on a conscious or an unconscious level. Often these result in feelings of intense discomfort, anxiety, stress, or panic attacks. A core reason why triggers are discussed within therapy is when we become aware of our triggers, we are better equipped to handle our emotional responses and make healthier choices in the present moment.

Triggers can be identified through self-reflection to develop an awareness of one’s emotional and physical responses to specific situations, events, or thoughts. This relationship is often called the “mind-body connection.” The mind-body connection aims to establish a conscious relationship between our brain and body, allowing us to identify patterns and relationships between emotional and physical sensations. Once patterns are identified, preventative steps can be taken to minimize or mitigate adverse reactions. Keeping a journal or log of one’s reactions to different experiences can help identify triggers.

Self-care in our modern world

Self-care is an essential aspect of emotional resiliency. Self-care involves holistically caring for yourself, meaning you care for your physical, emotional, and mental health needs. It is often assumed that self-care has to be extravagant and expensive routines and rituals; however, for many, that is unrealistic and can place added pressure on yourself. Self-care can be small habits or hobbies such as taking a short walk, drawing, or meditating. All too often, many seem to be wrestling with the all too familiar phrase, “there aren’t enough hours in the day.” Our daily routines often optimize taking care of everything and everyone else before we bring attention to ourselves, if at all. In therapy, it is common to hear clients say they no longer know what makes them happy. If this disconnect persists, it is common to hear people say they no longer know who they are and are continuously struggling with their identity. We often hear that engaging in activities that prioritize ourselves is inherently selfish; however, these activities are crucial to living a fulfilling life. From day one, caregivers are taught that self-compassion and boundary-setting are critical for avoiding mental and physical exhaustion and decline. The saying ‘Empathy without boundaries is self-destructive and leads to self-destruction’ underscores the crucial role of balance in preserving healthy behaviors, demonstrating that even positive traits can become harmful without proper limits.

Mindfulness and Self-Compassion

While more extravagant self-care behaviors can feel more indulgent, it is vital to practice self-compassion. Our brains have developed so that they examine and judge everything we think, say, do, or don’t do. Clients add to their feelings of guilt and shame because they didn’t flawlessly perform their self-care routine during periods of elevated stress and anxiety. It is important to remember that these skills take time to build and grow and, more importantly, how they can be implemented in your personalized routine. What may work for one person may not work for someone else, which is perfectly acceptable, and in no way suggests that something is wrong with you or your efforts to integrate a new skill into your life.

Mindfulness is the practice of being in the present moment without judgment. Mindfulness aims to reduce stress and anxiety by allowing you to focus on the present moment rather than worrying about the future or dwelling on the past. While meditation is one way to practice mindfulness, it’s important to remember that mindfulness can be incorporated into our daily routines through small actions and habits. Mindful walks, breathing, eating, driving, and pauses are many others that allow us to bring meaningful awareness to our current environment. Allowing ourselves to be fully present with our thoughts, feelings, and sensations by simply being more conscious of them enables us to develop a better sense of self. Without periods of intentional awareness, we can fall into a routine of living on autopilot and losing touch with our emotions and relationships. Mindfulness can help us feel more grounded and connected with ourselves and others.

Develop Coping Mechanisms

Coping skills refer to individuals’ strategies and techniques to manage and cope with difficult emotions, thoughts, and situations. By developing healthy coping skills, we can also build our self-efficacy, which is our belief in our ability to overcome challenges and achieve our goals. Self-efficacy is closely related to our experiences of success and mastery; when we succeed in a task or accomplish a goal, we feel more confident in our ability to do so again. This positive feedback loop can help to strengthen our sense of self-efficacy and resilience over time. This can further strengthen our emotional resilience and allow us to face future challenges confidently.
Generally, several coping skills are called upon to create a well-rounded approach to managing difficult emotions and situations. Discovering the coping skills that are most helpful for you can be a journey of trial and error, along with persistence and practice. Implementing a new coping skill can be daunting but being open to exploring different techniques can lead to discovering new hobbies, interests, and even life skills. If you’re looking to explore different coping skills, this PDF can be a valuable resource.

In Closing

Remember, emotional resilience is not about avoiding challenges or adversity but navigating them with grace and strength. With the proper support and tools, you can build the resilience you need to face life’s challenges confidently and emerge more robust.

If you are ready to begin your journey of developing or strengthening your emotional resilience, we invite you to contact us to learn more about our services and schedule a free consultation. Mente is committed to providing a safe, supportive, and non-judgmental space to explore your thoughts and feelings and work towards your goals with confidence and compassion.

Jasmine Ontiveros