7 ways to boost resilience during tough times

Crawling out of the abyss

I’m currently taking a course in Positive Psychology with the University of Pennsylvania and so I’m feeling inspired to write about resilence.

There are several factors that can determine whether or not tough times will make – or break – us. Right now, things can seem uncertain with changing political landscapes, wars as well as of course our own personal struggles.

Some of my friends and clients are experiencing difficulties with troublesome landlords, financial strain, mental health struggles, workaholic company cultures, and so on.

As someone who has personally survived a traumatic childhood, post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), burnout, addictions, lawsuits, a mental breakdown and even once living on benefits, I would say I am well-qualified to speak about resilience (no replacement for first-hand experience).

But somehow, I’ve managed to keep on going – even when things looked hopeless.

Thus, if you are reading this – know that resilience is like a muscle; you too can build it by doing the following things:

Surround yourself with good people

  • Spend time with people who love you and appreciate you
  • Avoid draining or shaming people
  • Get plenty of physical touch such as hugs

Connect to something larger than yourself

  • Having a larger mission or a plan can really help. As Friedrich Nietzsche and Viktor Frankl said: ‘He who has a why to live for can bear almost any how.’
  • Connect to a higher power, whether it’s through faith, nature, meditation – find something that is bigger than you and your problems. Often I find that prayer works really well for me.

Get outside help

As Einstein said, “we cannot solve problems with the same thinking that created them in the first place”.


  • Do not rely on self-help books or meditation alone.
  • Get help whether it’s from a life coach or a therapist; you don’t have to face whatever you’re going through alone.
  • If it’s a lawsuit, do what you can to get legal help, even if it’s going to Citizen’s Advice Bureau or a charity.
  • If you have financial problems, it may be worth getting help from a financial professional who can advise on how to consolidate debt, or possibly reduce your tax bill, etc. Every little helps.

Focus on what you can change

When we are faced with an impossible situation, I believe there are two choices that we can make which can empower us. One is to accept the situation. The other is to do what we can to change the things we can.

Some things you can have control over:

  • Your attitude
  • Your responses
  • Your gratitude

Practice gratitude

Rather than focusing on what’s going badly, what is going well in your life? Do you have a roof over your head? Food and water today? Clothes on your back? Fantastic! Think about what else you have.

Help others

Helping others and being of service can be a way to relieve ourselves from the bondage of self and get us out of our own heads. Also, it reminds us that all human beings suffer and that we are not alone. This reminder can connect us and relieve us from the isolation and loneliness of our situation.

Think optimistically

This one is obvious and easier said than done. But as with most things: practice makes permanently better. Next time you catch yourself having negative thoughts about the future – ask yourself, “how do I know this is going to happen for sure?”

Unless you have a time travel machine, you cannot say for sure. So why not at least try to imagine how things might turn out in the ideal case?

This too shall pass

As Churchill said: “If you’re going through hell – keep going”.

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