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Building resiliency to weather life’s ups and downs

Part of being human is experiencing life's ups and downs.

We each are given our share of day-to-day challenges or stressful life events, and we can all use a toolkit to build our resiliency to cope with adversity, stress and loss.

Resiliency is the capacity to cope with stress and manage conditions like depression or anxiety. I think of resiliency as being founded on three pillars of good health—mindfulness, nutrition and exercise. While each of these activities results in health benefits separately, they are most effective when combined.

I am privileged to be part of an Allina Health program called Resilience Training. This eight-week program is designed to help people dig deeper into eating well, exercising, and practicing mindfulness to create customized plans and habits to fortify themselves for dealing with life's challenges, along with anxiety and depression, on an ongoing basis.

It's been shown to be effective. Research revealed that participants in this program improved their mood, anxiety, sleep and pain, even when these symptoms had been chronic before completing the program.

But even if you don't have access to a program like Resilience Training, you can work to boost your resiliency at home with these six tips:

  1. Eat healthy. There's so much data about how diet can affect your health; even small changes can have a cascade of health benefits.
  2. Get regular physical activity. Research has shown that exercise can help reduce anxiety and improve mood. One benefit to exercise is it releases endorphins—or feel-good chemicals—into your brain. It can also help you gain confidence, take your mind off of your worries, and offer you a way to cope with stress in a healthy way.
  3. Try meditation and mindfulness. Research shows that meditation may ease symptoms related to anxiety and depression. There is value in being mindful about what you are experiencing, feeling and thinking, and in being present in the moment. This allows you to let go of some worries about the past and future, and even come up open up with new ideas for dealing with stress.
  4. Make connections. Having good, supportive relationships with friends, family or others who care about you and will listen can improve your resiliency. Being there for others also has a value in strengthening those connections and your resiliency.
  5. Take care of yourself. Beyond eating healthy and getting active, it's important to tend to your emotional needs, along with your interests and hobbies. This helps "fill up your tank" so you have some resiliency reserves when times are tough.
  6. Get enough sleep. Sleep is incredibly important for resiliency. When we don't sleep, many of us feel more stressed and less than our best—even sluggish, lazy, irritable and unfocused. Getting enough rest allows you to feel more energized and motivated to be physically active, eat well, connect with others and take care of yourself.


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Recipe: Fruit and quinoa salad

This easy, healthy salad is good for your heart, is gluten free, and low in sodium. Its bright, beautiful color is a hint that it contains antioxidants, which help reduce your risk of cancer. You can also add other seasonal fruits to this salad such as kiwi, cantaloupe, peaches, raspberries or watermelon.

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