7 things resilient people do differently in stressful situations

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We all face stressful situations — missing a deadline, arguing with a loved one, or losing a job. It’s a part of life we can’t escape. 

But have you ever noticed how some people seem to bounce back quicker than others? 

I recently went through a tough week where it felt like everything was falling apart. And I couldn’t help but recall a friend of mine who had a similar tough period last year, but seemed to handle it with such strength. 

And it got me thinking: What’s the secret sauce to resilience? 

Well, I’ve found 7 habits that resilient people practice to handle stress like a pro. Stick around, because these tips might just change the way you face life’s challenges.

1) Keep perspective

One of the first things I noticed about my friend when she was going through her rough patch was her remarkable ability to keep perspective. 

While it’s easy to get wrapped up in the chaos and feel like your problem is the worst in the world, resilient people make sure to take a step back and look at the big picture too.

My friend had lost her job, but instead of panicking, she said, “Well, that sucks, but people lose their jobs every day. It could be worse. Maybe it’s a good opportunity for a change — I was starting to feel stuck there anyways.”

She didn’t minimize the problem but framed it in a way that it seemed manageable. 

To help themselves zoom out from an issue, resilient people ask themselves a few key questions. “Will this matter a year from now?” and “What can I learn from this?” are two great ones to start with. 

What’s incredible is that this attitude doesn’t just make them feel better; it propels them into action. 

My friend updated her resume the next day, reached out to her network, and even enrolled in a short course to upskill. Within a month, she had a new job lined up. 

2) Practice gratitude

You might wonder how gratitude fits into the picture when life is throwing curveballs at you. It’s a fair question. But when it comes to resilience, gratitude plays a crucial role, and I saw this firsthand with my friend.

When she was jobless and navigating a sea of uncertainties, she made it a daily habit to jot down three things she was grateful for. 

It could be as simple as a sunny day, a call from an old friend, or even the freedom that came with not being tied to a 9-to-5 job for a while. 

Why does this matter? The act of recognizing the good, even when it seems like there’s only bad around you, rewires your brain. 

It shifts your attention from what’s lacking or wrong to what’s abundant and right in your life. It might not change the situation you’re in, but it changes your reaction to it.

And it’s not just about feeling good either. Gratitude helps to lower stress levels, improve mental health, and even directly strengthens your resilience. And we all know those can be a big help during tough times!

3) Reach out for support

Many people have the misconception that resilience means you need to handle everything on your own.

But the truth is, resilient people are strong partially because they understand that they don’t have to tackle all their problems alone. 

During my friend’s tumultuous period, she wasn’t shy about leaning on her support network. She called up close friends, talked openly with family, and even consulted mentors for advice.

You see, resilient people don’t view asking for help as a sign of weakness; they see it as a sign of strength. It takes courage to be vulnerable and admit that you’re struggling, but this openness can be your lifeline in tough times.

What struck me most was the quality of support my friend sought. She wasn’t just venting or seeking sympathy; she was looking for constructive advice, emotional support, and, sometimes, a fresh perspective. 

The people she reached out to weren’t just her echo chamber; they were individuals who could offer insights or resources she hadn’t thought of.

Don’t underestimate the power of a supportive community. It can be a sounding board, a source of comfort, and a well of wisdom.

4) Stay true to themselves

When the going gets tough, it’s easy to lose yourself. The pressure mounts, opinions flood in, and suddenly, you’re not sure which way is up. 

But here’s something I admired about my resilient friend: Throughout her challenging times, she never compromised her values or changed who she was just to make a situation easier. 

She could have lied on her resume, or gotten some fake references, or a dozen other shortcuts — I know quite a few people who have. 

But she was confident in her belief in honesty, integrity, and authenticity, and decided that she didn’t want to find her way out of her problems only to find she lost herself on the way.

Those values, beliefs, and principles served as her compass. If you ask me, this is the only real way to handle stressful situations

Because otherwise, you’ll find a way out of your stressful situation only to get into a new one: grappling with guilt, shame, or doubt in who you are. 

5) Adapt and pivot

Imagine you’re driving down a road, and suddenly you hit a dead-end. You wouldn’t just sit there forever, would you? No, you’d turn around, find a new route, or maybe even go off-road for a bit to get where you’re going. 

That’s precisely what resilient people do in stressful situations: they adapt and pivot.

This ability to change course without getting stuck is a hallmark of resilience, something I found really enlightening about my friend. 

She had her fair share of setbacks, just like we all do. But she never saw them as roadblocks; rather, she viewed them as detours. And that’s why she never stayed stuck for too long. 

You see, adapting and pivoting doesn’t mean giving up on your goals or throwing your plans out the window. It means reassessing the situation to find a different path to the same destination. 

Whether it’s a lost job, a broken relationship, or a failed project, resilient people ask themselves: “What’s the next best move here?” They’re quick to figure out alternative solutions and take steps toward them, even if those steps are small.

6) Engage in self-care

The term “self-care” has become a bit of a buzzword lately, but let me tell you, it’s far more than just a trend. Resilient people know that taking care of themselves isn’t just a luxury — it’s a necessity, especially during times of stress.

When life gets tough, it’s so easy to get wrapped up in solving problems and putting out fires that we forget about our own wellbeing. 

But that’s not how my resilient friend approached her difficult times. Instead, she doubled down on taking care of herself.

Now, self-care isn’t just about bubble baths or spa days, although those can be great. What it’s really about is meeting your own needs, both physically and emotionally. 

For some, that could mean getting a proper night’s sleep or eating nutritious meals. For others, it’s about taking a break from social media, going for a walk, or simply reading a good book.

My friend made a point to continue her morning exercise routine even when her schedule was thrown into chaos. She told me that those 30 minutes of physical activity helped her clear her head and gave her the energy to tackle her day.

See, that’s the thing about self-care: It builds up your resilience over time. The better you treat yourself, the better equipped you are to handle life’s challenges

7) Take responsibility

You know, it’s easy to point fingers when things go awry. Blaming circumstances, other people, or even bad luck can sometimes feel comforting in the short term. 

But resilient people? They don’t do that. They take full responsibility for their actions and their situation, and that’s one of their superpowers in stressful times.

I saw this in action with my resilient friend. When she faced setbacks, she didn’t look for scapegoats. Instead, she took a hard look at her own actions and choices. 

Even if the situation involved factors beyond her control, she focused on her role and what she could do differently.

Why is taking responsibility so powerful? 

First, it puts you in the driver’s seat. Instead of feeling helpless, you feel empowered to change things. If you caused a problem — or even just contributed to it — that means you also have the power to find a solution or make amends.

Secondly, owning up to your actions brings a level of self-awareness that is crucial for personal growth. It’s like holding up a mirror to your character and saying, “This is on me, and it’s up to me to make it right.”

Now, taking responsibility doesn’t mean beating yourself up. We’re all human; we all make mistakes. 

But acknowledging those mistakes and striving to do better is what separates resilient people from the rest.

Building up your resilience for tough times

You’ve just learned 7 things that resilient people do differently in stressful situations.

If you recognize these behaviors in yourself, that’s fantastic!

But know this — no matter how many of these things you check off, resilience is something you can always build and improve, at any time in life.

Start practicing these habits today, and you’ll arm yourself to handle the next curveball with much greater strength. 

Lost Your Sense of Purpose?

In this age of information overload and pressure to meet others’ expectations, many struggle to connect with their core purpose and values. It’s easy to lose your inner compass.

Jeanette Brown created this free values discovery PDF to help clarify your deepest motivations and beliefs. As an experienced life coach and self-improvement teacher, Jeanette guides people through major transitions by realigning them with their principles.

Her uniquely insightful values exercises will illuminate what inspires you, what you stand for, and how you aim to operate. This serves as a refreshing filter to tune out societal noise so you can make choices rooted in what matters most to you.

With your values clearly anchored, you’ll gain direction, motivation and the compass to navigate decisions from your best self – rather than fleeting emotion or outside influences.

Stop drifting without purpose. Rediscover what makes you come alive with Jeanette Brown’s values clarity guide.

 

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Tina Fey

I'm Tina Fey, the founder of the blog Love Connection. I've extremely passionate about sharing relationship advice. I've studied psychology and have my Masters in marital, family, and relationship counseling. I hope with all my heart to help you improve your relationships, and I hope that even if one thing I write helps you, it means more to me than just about anything else in the world. Check out my blog Love Connection, and if you want to get in touch with me, hit me up on Twitter

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