Ways To Build Resilience When You Feel Overwhelmed

Resilience is not about being heartless or not feeling fear. Resilience is about having the capability to overcome challenges and work through setbacks. Resilience gives us the emotional strength to cope with hardship, loss, and adversity.

At times, it may feel as though our resilience feels non-existent. So here are some tips for building your resilience in tough situations.


To increase resilience, we cannot ignore flexibility. A study conducted in 2003 demonstrated people with psychological flexibility showed fewer anxiety symptoms than those with rigid coping strategies. However, this study also showed that flexibility isn’t about choosing the most straightforward option or the most comfortable one. When it comes to becoming more flexible, it helps to question the choices we make. Is there another way of perceiving the problem? What are you not thinking of? What is the solution? Examining ourselves with out-of-the-box thinking will help make us quicker thinkers and increase mental agility.


When facing a stressful moment, taking controlled and slow breaths can help you gather thoughts and decrease your fight or flight response. It will also help build resilience. Harvard Health conducted studies into a ‘Focused Breath,’ which has been shown to relieve stress and evoke relaxation.

To begin a ‘Focused Breath,’ you should take a normal breath followed by a deep breath slowly through your nose. Allowing your chest and lower belly to rise as you fill your lungs, you should then let your abdomen expand fully before you breathe out slowly through your mouth.


Accepting things you cannot change, and working on the things you can change, will improve your mindset and help you learn and bounce back. Beginning to re-train ourselves to accept that change is inevitable helps us recognize bad things don’t last forever, providing hope and building resilience. For example, when my father passed away, there was a long list of injustices that tormented my mind. However, I read a short passage describing the process of life. It explained how birds, trees, and butterflies all play a part in the world, then eventually pass away. So do humans. I couldn’t change his passing, but my perspective shifted from injustice to acceptance.

Please take a moment to accept how you feel and put it into perspective. You can do the latter by writing down things you’re grateful for or ask yourself, ‘Why am I upset about this?’ and allow the thoughts to come one at a time.

Find Purpose

Finding a purpose can be helpful for recovery and build resilience. Focusing on something non-related to any stressors in your life will allow you to de-stress, and the process of attending a fitness class or even an art class will help you gain purpose.

Creating art has been shown to relieve stress and help us cope with a loss, as art becomes tangible and can often spark emotions, making us feel good about ourselves. A study also showed that art could help recovery and process our emotions, feelings, and challenging thoughts. It also often tests our ability to be flexible and provides a chance to build further resilience.


Taking time for yourself will allow you to refresh and take a second to catch up and help your resilience. While self-care comes in different forms, we need to stop and process any emotions we hang onto. Consider a solo hobby you love to do, such as reading a book, watching a film, or listening to music to nurture yourself.

Sleep is another way to nurture ourselves, as a lack of sleep can mean we react more negatively to situations, halting any positive solutions from growing.

Positivity Growth 

Everyone can learn to be resilient, primarily through being more positive. A study from 2009, Happiness Unpacked, showed that positive emotions had aided growth and change, and while it isn’t enough to improve life, being positive lends a hand to trying new things and connecting with others.

To become more positive, end the day by naming three to five things you found positive for the day. Then, go a step further, and name three things for which you’re thankful. The Dalai Lama also advocates finding ten things each day that lift your spirits. Once you make this a conscious habit, your thoughts naturally begin to shift towards positive thinking.

While we may feel weak at times, remember people haven’t been known to display resilience without being tested. By adopting the steps above, not only will your mindset improve, but your attitude towards stress, allowing resilience to be in your hands, giving you the power to adapt to new pressures and scenarios at any time they appear.