Maximizing your resilience

Maximizing your resilience

Five areas that will assist you

Innovation & Entrepreneuship

By Lesli Dullum-Tutterrow

Ever wonder why, when faced with adversity, some people fall apart while others seem to have the knack for seeing life’s curveballs as opportunities for growth, transformation or change? Why do some humans crumble under the weight of life’s difficulties, and others take on problems and even traumatic events with confidence and strength?

Resilience is the ability to bounce back and return to a relatively normal or healthy emotional and mental state after enduring a difficult situation, event or circumstance. Many difficulties in relationships both at home and in the workplace result from people’s inability to think and act in resilient ways.

To achieve health and wellbeing in every realm, we must have good resilience skills.

Now, you may be thinking that you are not one of the fortunate ones born with innate resilience. Perhaps you are resigned to living life constantly reacting to your circumstances and allowing them to drag you down.

Research has shown, however, that even people thrust into unfortunate early life circumstances such as poverty, abuse or neglect can still develop resiliency. Additionally, no matter how old you are or what your life learning and belief system has been, you can begin to learn resilience skills any time you choose, because resilience is not an inherent trait like your eye color.

Here are five areas to pay attention to when seeking to become more resilient.

Outlook and attitude

Are you someone who sees the glass half empty, half full or who fears that the glass will get knocked over? Are you able to have a realistic yet optimistic appraisal of your situation? Is your general daily outlook and attitude more positive or negative?

How self aware are you?

Too often, people over-focus on what the other guy is doing or not doing, and have a vague sense of self in the mix. Many people can identify when they are feeling happy, sad or mad, three of the six most common emotions we humans all share. But are you tuned in to when you are feeling grieved, discouraged or uncared for? The more self awareness we have around our emotions, the better position we are in to look at healthier ways to deal with them.

How intentional are you about how you want to live?

Living intentionally means we choose what we want for our life in every area — physically, emotionally, mentally spiritually, relationally, financially and professionally. We make conscious choices that are congruent with our values in each of these areas. What is really important to you? Pursue those things.

Lifestyle choices

Refrain from the activities that cause harm. Smoking, excessive drinking, drugging and poor diet and/or overeating, for example, lead to decreased longevity, disease and loss of quality of life. Pursue the choices that will bring you better health, balance and joy. Put time into meaningful friendships, fitness and pursuing your passions. Every choice every day matters to your ability to be resilient.

Brain health

Are you making choices that will help you have a well functioning brain that can help you cope with life’s challenges? This includes protecting your brain from injury, eating a healthy diet (and often enough to keep blood sugar in normal range), getting adequate sleep (seven to eight hours a night) as well as finding a balance between routine things versus challenging your brain. Working out, doing something you love a minimum of 150 minutes a week and spending time with people you enjoy are also good for your brain and help increase what we call brain reserves.

Building brain reserves is a crucial element in maximizing resilience.

Think of building reserves like a bank account. Imagine a huge bucket for deposits and a spigot at the bottom for withdrawals. Each good life choice is a deposit in your resilience bank — each good nights sleep, healthy food choice and positive interaction. Withdrawals occur when you need to spend your deposits. When you are having an argument, feel distress or when you face a personal, relational or financial crisis, those all tap your reserves.

Every single day provides opportunities for you to take control of your outlook and attitude and consciously make choices to add to your resilience bank daily. No one gets to live a stress-free life, and unpleasant or unfortunate circumstances happen to all of us at one time or another. Life calls for resilience, so start being intentional on building your reserve account today.

— Lesli Dullum Tutterrow is a certified counselor and life, health and business consultant/coach with The Wellspring Company. Contact her at