Developing Mental Resilience

Do you often worry or feel paralyzed by indecision? Life is full of challenges and setbacks. Everyone faces difficulties in life, and the question isn’t whether you will face setbacks, but how well you cope with them. Even if challenges feel overwhelming, you can become more resilient and capable of handling tough situations.

Mental resilience is about learning how to let go of negativity and pain, and keep yourself mentally strong. Resilience is the ability to bounce back from adversity and setbacks and come back stronger. Mental resilience helps people survive hardship and emerge with more strength of mind and wisdom. Fortunately, resilience can be learned with practice. Resilience is something that anyone can cultivate with perseverance, and it starts with building mental fortitude and resilience.

But how do you do that? Let’s look at some ways to develop greater mental resilience.

Challenge Your Body

As mentioned, building mental fortitude gives you greater resilience in the face of challenges, but developing greater physical strength can help you build mental toughness and resilience. What’s good for your muscles is good for your mind too. When you push your body physically harder than it’s accustomed to, it adapts and becomes stronger. But there’s a mental component to exercise training. As you develop greater muscle strength and stamina, mental resilience increases too. So, dare yourself to push your body a little harder than it’s used to. When you’re doing squats and your legs want to give out, push through by doing a few more reps. Challenge yourself in other ways too. Try something new that physically challenges you. For example, sign up for a 5K race and start training.

Embrace Change

The most resilient people understand that life is about change. Don’t waste your energy trying to hang on to what you were in the past, move forward, and embrace change. It’s change that makes you tap into new resources and adapt in new ways that make you stronger and more resilient. Realize that you can’t become your strongest if you’re stuck in your comfort zone. A comfort zone is a cozy place, but it doesn’t cause you to grow and become mentally stronger.

How do you learn to embrace or even thrive on change? Practice in your daily life. When you go to a library, pick out a book in a topic you’re unfamiliar with and learn. Try new recipes, entrees at restaurants and entirely new cuisines. Drive a different way to work. Break out of your daily routine and habits, and tackle something new.

Recognize and Appreciate Your Strengths

There is a strong connection between self-esteem, self-appreciation, and mental resilience. You can’t expect to be mentally resilient if you don’t respect or like yourself. Grab a journal and write down at least five strengths that you have and five things that you like about yourself. Remind yourself of these things daily, even if you have to write them down on a card and place them in front of your mirror in the morning. You have to like yourself and believe you can be strong before you can become more resilient.

Focus on Physical Wellness Too

It’s harder to be resilient if you’re fatigued, run down, or your health is failing. Work on improving your physical health through lifestyle changes. You don’t have to do a complete lifestyle overhaul; start by adding one small healthy habit at a time. For example, replace the French fries you usually eat with a meal with a non-starchy vegetable. Take a 20-minute walk in the morning and head to bed 30 minutes earlier, so you get more sleep. Those small habits will add up to better health, and that’s the foundation for resilience.


Helping someone else helps you be more resilient too. When you help someone who’s in a bind or less fortunate than you, you realize you’re tougher and stronger than you imagine. Volunteering will also give you a sense of purpose and boost your self-esteem and self-worth. Those are important for becoming more resilient.

Practice Mindfulness

Can practicing mindfulness make you more resilient? One study of 327 undergraduate students found students who practiced mindfulness were more satisfied with life and had greater resilience.Being mindful, focusing on the moment, helps you better cope with challenging emotions and thoughts. Mindfulness training is also an effective way to tame stress. Although other strategies, like deep breathing and relaxation therapy, can help you manage stress, mindfulness is more effective for building the mind power you need to be resilient.

When you’re resilient, you can bounce back from hardships and recover from setbacks. The strategies above can help strengthen your own resilience. You don’t have to do them all to boost your resilience. Taking small steps and working on only one or two of these strategies will help you get started.

Developing Mental Resilience