3 Resiliency Habits

The topic of resiliency was popular pre-COVID and, in the last four years, has become a necessary concept to understand and promote.

Recently, Ashton Jackson at CNBC reviewed the work of Penn’s Adam Grant on the subject.

Everyone experiences unexpected hardships. You can bounce back and learn from them with an important soft skill: resilience.

The more mentally resilient you are, the more quickly you can recover from challenges or persist in the face of them, according to Wharton psychologist Adam Grant. The trait helps you take smarter risks, beat burnout at work and live a happier life. Without it, you can more easily get stuck on your problems and fall into a negative mental state.

Building resilience takes time, but finding ways to foster wellness, healthy thinking and connection with others can help you strengthen your adaptability and mental flexibility, according to the American Psychological Association.

Here are three habits that can help you become highly resilient, experts say:

Tend and befriend

If your typical response to stress is to get away from it or shut down, you’re not alone. But resilience is all about finding ways through life’s stressors and learning from them, and creating social connections can help.

“We all know about fight-or-flight — the stress response that can occur when we encounter a perceived threat,” executive coach and author Jason Shen wrote for CNBC Make It in March. “But social scientists have uncovered a different and equally important stress response called ‘tend-and-befriend,’” which involves seeking contact with others when you’re facing a tough situation.

To cultivate this response, Shen recommends trying these activities:

  • Schedule chats with friends or family to discuss the stressful situation, or simply boost your mood.
  • Join a support group where you can discuss your problems, in depth, with people who might be experiencing similar circumstances.
  • Give someone a hug. The action boosts “happy” chemicals like oxytocin and endorphins, which can help calm you down in the face of stress.

Take a digital break

Content on TikTok, Instagram and Facebook can be a nice distraction. It can also cause mental health-related challenges like anxiety, depression, low self-esteem and increased isolation or loneliness.

To build resilience, take a digital break every now and then, says University of Pennsylvania humanities professor Justin McDaniel — otherwise known as the teacher of Penn’s “monk class.”

McDaniel spent almost a year living like a monk, and found that limiting digital use can help you clear your head and make you more available for meaningful, in-person connection — both of which can help you strengthen your resilience.

“I always tell my students that the difference in a lot of things in life is dealing with 30 seconds of discomfort,” McDaniel told Make It last year. “What if you got in an elevator or onto the subway with someone else and didn’t immediately pull out your phone?”

Help other people

Doing acts of service for other people, like volunteering, can help you build mental resilience and find community, the Mayo Clinic noted in a blog post last year.

Reflecting on the experience afterward can show you the impact of your work and help you maintain motivation, according to Grant. His advice is simple: Keep a journal of your contributions to others.

Grant found the journaling approach to be effective after conducting a study with two groups of employees. One wrote about what they were grateful for every day, and the other wrote about three ways they helped others each day.

“Attending to gratitude made people happier. It certainly made them more satisfied with their jobs. It didn’t affect their resilience, though,” Grant told Make It in 2017. “What really boosted resilience was focusing not on contributions received from other people, but rather, contributions given to other people.”