Shifting your relationship with stress is important inner work that ultimately contributes to greater resilience, a cornerstone of sustainable transformation.

Increasing Resilience

Resilience can be defined as the ability to recover from or adapt to changes or difficulties. Being resilient doesn’t mean you won’t experience adversity. In fact, you might experience more adversity! For example, you might be willing to take more risks because you know you’re capable of adapting to possible outcomes.

How to strengthen resilience is a topic of much current scientific study. Thanks to the brain’s neuroplasticity, resilience is a learned behavior that anyone can develop. Just like strengthening a muscle, building resilience requires intention, time, and commitment. When approached from a personal growth mind-set, it can be an empowering and even joyful process.

Benefit Finding

You have the ability to see unexpected change as opportunities for learning. While you’re hardwired to focus on what’s not working – as that served humans evolutionarily – science has shown that you’re able to train your brain to shift the focus from “What’s wrong?” to “What’s the opportunity in this situation?” This is known as benefit finding. Benefit finding is an aspect of positive psychology which focuses on seeing positive aspects of stressors and recognizing them as opportunities for personal growth. Being resilient doesn’t mean avoiding or denying the negative; it means being able to tune in to the silver lining of any hardship and use it as an opportunity for transformation.

It can become a vicious cycle: You don’t sleep well, so you feel tired and stressed the following day. As a result, you require more caffeine to stay alert and focused. You also crave more sugar and simple carbohydrates for energy. Maybe you nap or skip your exercise because you’re too tired. All these habits perpetuate the cycle of poor-quality sleep.

Pause and Reflect

Think about a time when you were presented with a stressor and focused on what wasn’t going well. How could you have reframed that situation as an opportunity for growth instead?

Cultivate Resilience

Visiting teacher Ellen Vora, MD, shows you how to set up your life for resilience.