11 Life Hacks For Building Resilience In Stressful Times

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Building resilience in times of stress is more important than ever. Stress is the physical or emotional tension you feel in response to something that happens. Some manage it well while others, not so much.

Since the world is filled with rapid change and much of it isn't in your control, there are many opportunities to get tense, worried, and frazzled.

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Building resilience is the best defense to battle stress and anxiety.

The first step is to recognize that you're anxious about something. What does stress feel like in your body? Do you tighten in your shoulders, or feel it in your neck?

For me, it’s a heaviness in my chest and then it moves up from there. It might manifest into a headache. I used to get migraines when things got strained. Since that was no fun, I went on a quest to learn how to manage stress.

The next step is to acknowledge the feelings that arise when you start to stiffen up.

Understanding what’s happening will allow you to respond instead of reacting, and you can choose to use different ways to develop resilience to it. All of those life skills you have acquired are in what I call your "treasure chest."

When you imagine that everything you’ve ever learned is at your fingertips, then all you have to do is open the lid of your treasure chest and pull one out one of your life tools.

Dust it off, if you need to, and put it into practice. Because it’s the practice part of it that builds resilience.

Here are 11 life hacks for building resilience in stressful times.

1. Laugh, or at least smile.

Laughter is one of the best stress-relievers around.

Whenever you can turn an anxious moment into a humorous one, you've completely changed the dynamic of the situation.

2. Change your perspective about stress.

Usually, feeling stressed about something means you don’t know how to handle it. It might also mean that you have some fear going on.

That’s normal — and it happens to all of us. What if, instead of focusing on what you don’t know or fear, you concentrate on what you could do to find a solution to the challenge?

This way, you'll learn how to problem-solve instead of just worry.

3. Write it out — then talk it out.

Another way to combat stress is to look it in the eye and call it by its name. First, spend time writing about the circumstances creating the angst, and be specific.

Then, capture the details about who, what, where, and when. Try your best to take the emotion and judgment out of the story.

Next, talk with a trusted ally to share the specifics — and keep to the facts, not what you don't know. This approach will help you to see the situation for what it is. As a result, you’ll start to see solutions to reducing stress.

4. Determine what the cause is and if you can change it.

While you’re writing, include information about what caused you to feel stressed about the situation. Details, please. Then, think about why it upset you, and get curious about what you could do to change the outcome.

Whenever you are on a search for solutions, you are developing resilience to stress. Do you see how that can work?

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5. Reframe your stress.

This idea can be a tough one to grasp for some people, but don’t worry. Try another idea and come back to this when you’ve mastered the rest.

You have to think about the stress in a new way. Let’s say someone pushes your buttons, you react with anger, and you can’t get it out of your head. The stress levels are rising.

What if you imagined that same incident differently. Instead of reacting to the situation, you could pause for a moment, take a breath, and decide that the experience was a teaching moment.

In other words, you reframe stress to a lesson — which is another excellent way to build resilience to stress.

6. Visualize the opposite of your concern.

This one is relatively easy. Instead of feeling stressed, close your eyes and choose one of these feelings instead: calm, relaxed, serene, undisturbed, assured, contented, confident.

So, pick a word and focus on how that feels. What does it look like? And how does your body respond to it?

Now that you’ve found the feeling you’d rather have instead, you can choose that in place of the stressed-out feeling. Resilience is building.

7. Focus on breathing.

Breathing is underrated, but it's a powerful tool in your treasure chest and can make every anxious moment feel much better. 

Inhale deeply and exhale all the stress. Keep practicing this, so you can feel more relaxed, clear-headed, and ready to move on.

8. Soothe yourself with herbal tea.

The aroma, warmth, and soothing flavors of chamomile, lavender, peppermint, and lemon balm will get you started on the right road to relaxation.

De-stressing over a cup of tea does wonders for me. I get to pause, breathe in the comforting scents, and let my mind wander. As you can see, there are a bunch of hacks all in one place in this one.

9. Listen to music, books, or guided meditation.

What works best for you is the ticket to this ride. Take a break, put on your earphones, and plug into your favorite mode of retreat.

Sometimes, feeling stressed requires you to remove yourself, refresh your attitude, and reset your energy. What’s the best way for you?

Develop your resilience to stress by doing more of what works. After you’ve relaxed a bit, you’ll be able to tackle the tough situations better.

10. Get a hug.

Easy-peasy. Call a friend who gets what you’re going through. Try using the "talk it out" hack, then let them know you need to release the stress physically with a big bear hug.

Take a deep breath — get a big hug — let go of the tension brewing in your body. Then decide what comes next.

Life Hack #4 may come in handy about now. Do you see how all these are connected?

11. Shake it out.

Have you noticed how a dog or cat, after they hit their head, shakes their whole body from head to toe?

My little Pomeranian does the body shake after I groom her, which is not her favorite pastime. I’ve observed that these beautiful creatures use an innate behavior to shake off what stresses them so they can move on — a good lesson.

Be careful not to shake too hard, but give this one a try. Do it in front of a mirror, if you want. Physically releasing your stress in some manner helps you to clear the way to move beyond it.

You can develop resilience to stress.

Everyone has lived and learned. But sometimes, you get so buried in the stress that you forget the lessons, and a gentle reminder is all you need.

You get to choose how to bounce back from stress when you put one or more of these tips into play.

It takes is practice. You build resilience to stress by recognizing it, facing it head-on, and recovering from the difficulties quickly.

That means you bounced back, learned lessons, and have more tools in your treasure chest for the next time stress tries to derail you. Resilience built!

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María Tomás-Keegan is a certified life and career coach specializing in transition, and founder of Transition & Thrive with Maria. Learn more about the impact change can have on your life and how to move through it with more dignity and grace in her free ebook From Darkness to Light: Learning to Adapt to Change and Move Through Transition.

This article was originally published at Transition and Thrive With Maria. Reprinted with permission from the author.