10 Science-Backed Strategies To Increase Resilience

One of the most popular topics in positive psychology, both in the field itself and in mainstream discussion of positive psychological concepts, is resilience.

While resilience may not be the end-all and be-all, it’s a hot topic for good reason: it is a wonderful trait to have, it is related to a ton of positive outcomes, and perhaps most important of all, it can be improved.

Read on to learn more about resilience and why it deserves every bit of the attention it gets.

What is resilience?

In a nutshell, resilience can be defined as the ability and tendency to “bounce back.”

“Bouncing back” is what we do when we face disappointment, defeat, and failure, but instead of wallowing or letting things keep us down, we get back up and continue on with our lives.

How do we measure resilience?

The Predictive 6-Factor Resilience Scale was developed based on the neurobiological underpinnings of resilience and the theorized relationship with health hygiene factors.

The PR6 measures resilience as a function of six domains concerning several interrelated concepts:

  1. Vision: self-efficacy and goal-setting
  2. Composure: emotional regulation and the ability to identify, understand, and act on internal prompts and physical signals
  3. Tenacity: perseverance and hardiness
  4. Reasoning: higher cognitive traits, like problem-solving, resourcefulness, and thriving
  5. Collaboration: psychosocial interaction, such as secure attachment, support networks, context, and humor
  6. Health: physiological health

The PR6 was found to have good internal consistency and correlate with other measures of resilience as well as health hygiene scores.

Based on these results, the PR6 can be considered an effective measurement and a particularly good assessment for use in improving resilience.

How to develop your resilience strategies?

These are the various behaviors, thought patterns and skills that you can use to help you overcome adversity, or even manage it ahead of time. Through our Positive Psychology Coaching Program we help people put these science-backed strategies into practice. Let’s explore these strategies across one of the six domains of resilience: Vision. 

Purpose, meaning and goals (aka your vision) is the most important part of resilience - this is the very meaning of your life. Here are 10 strategies you can use to increase your resilience and bounce back from failure.

1. Define your purpose. 

Above all, this is the most powerful resilience tool. It will help guide your life, actions, decisions and values. This doesn’t need to be precise – something as simple as “make a big difference”, or “help people” are good examples of a purpose in life. Take some time to define your own.

2. Know what matters to you.

Following from your purpose, you can identify the things in life that really matters, and what doesn’t. Take time to consider these, so you can be more decisive when things get tough.

3. Set goals.

Giving the mind something to work towards is important. This is often where a feeling of fulfilment comes from – setting out to do something and then doing the hard yards to achieve it. Nothing beats the feeling of hard-earned success.

4. Clarify your goals.

For you to achieve your goals, you need to know what they actually are. So often we set nebulous goals that we never really know when we’ve achieved them. Clarify them so you know when you have done what you set out to do.

5. Prioritise your goals.

Got a lot of goals? Great! Now prioritise them so you know which ones to sacrifice if things get tough. If they’re all important, then none of them are important. Be brutal with yourself if you need to and de-prioritise what is not important enough.

6. Create congruence in your goals.

Which of your goals really work towards your purpose? And can you find alignment between goals so that progress in one equals progress in another? If you can do this, you’ll achieve congruence – a highly rewarding state where all your actions lead towards what really matters. You will become unstoppable.

7. Build confidence in your own self-worth.

As you challenge yourself through goals and defining your purpose, you will build a deeper sense of confidence and sense of self-worth. Recognise that you are enough, and it is your pursuit of a meaningful life that makes you a worthy and valuable person, regardless of what might have happened in the past.

8. Avoid perfection.

Nothing can ever be perfect, so avoid aiming for it. Research shows that perfectionism is quite damaging to our mental health, so aim instead to just get things done & refine later.

9. Focus on getting things done.

Following on from above, as the saying goes “Done is better than perfect.” Focus on how you can achieve goals efficiently and cut out the things that don’t really matter in the long run.

10. Celebrate small wins.

Take a moment to acknowledge when you did something good. Even if it’s just a quick high five to recognise a good effort. Just a quick reminder that it’s all worth it!

Final Thoughts

I’ll leave you with this quote from Nelson Mandela about resilience:

“Do not judge me by my success, judge me by how many times I fell down and got back up again.” ― Nelson Mandela

Resilience is the incredibly useful ability to adapt and cope with adversities and stresses, and fortunately for us, it can be built and developed over time. So take some time to learn these strategies and put them into practice!

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