How to be Mentally Resilient During Hard Times

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by Daisy Luther

At some point or another, hard times will hit nearly everyone. Whether it’s a natural disaster, divorce, interruption of income, illness, war, the loss of a loved one, or some other traumatic event, no one gets through this life unscathed. But being mentally resilient that will propel you through the hard times.

How will you get through such a crisis? Life is not for the faint of heart and it’s not easy to thrive when bad things happen.

Everyone handles these things differently and some if that is out of your control – it’s genetic. Will you become depressed, bitter, angry? These feelings can hit you so hard you are barely able to function.  Or will you grit your teeth and push through to the other side? Either way, if you make it through, you’ve survived. You’ve won.

But to find moments of joy in the darkest of times, you need to tap into your mental resilience. This helps not only you but those around you. And to bounce back after these events and live your life again, mental resilience is, again, the key.

For some people, it comes naturally. Maybe they’ve been through things that are way worse in the past. Perhaps they are just wired that way. Some folks have something or someone that helps them be stronger, either for them or because of them. For others, it’s their faith.

Building mental resilience is something you should work on well before hard times strike. The way you deal with the ups and downs of life while it’s good can carry you through the darkness. Below are some ways to increase your philosophy of mental resilience.

Words matter.

Think about the way you describe things. Are you a glass half full or glass half empty person? If you had a fender bender, how would you explain it to your friends?

  • “I can’t have nice things. I just got into a wreck and now my car is trashed. Why does this stuff always happen to me?”
  • “Wow, I was just in a fender bender and got out with only a couple of dents in my car. I am so lucky! It could have been so much worse! I’m so glad I have good insurance!”

This is the case with all sorts of things in your life. Do you hate your job, counting the seconds until it’s time to leave? Or can you find some happiness even in an unpleasant work situation, with goofy pens, a coworker with whom you really enjoy joking around, or interacting pleasantly with customers?

Being able to find the bright side is a skill that not everyone possesses. But it’s a skill you can learn and the way you word things really matters. Try to catch yourself when you word things negatively and reword them in a more positive way. It will become a habit that reduces stress and sets you up for a more resilient mental attitude.

Be kind to others.

Believe it or not, compassion for others can help you build mental resilience. Doing good makes you feel good. Of course, you shouldn’t do things for others if your heart isn’t in it just to get a buzz of endorphins – that won’t work. But actions from the heart can help you feel better about your own situation.

Being kind to other people is nearly always within your power. During what was the worst financial dark and humiliating point in my life, we had to go on social assistance for three months. I simply couldn’t get a job and feed my kids. There was absolutely nothing in my small town and it was so hard for me to swallow my pride and accept the hand up. I didn’t want to set a bad example for my children and show them that we were people who simply took from others.

So every week at the grocery store, even with our tiny budget, I had one girl pick a packet of pasta and the other girl chose a can of spaghetti sauce and we donated it to the food bank. I wanted them to know that no matter how bad things felt for us at that moment, it was still within our power to help others and give a hot meal to someone worse off than us. We were not at such a low point that we couldn’t be caring and generous. It cost only $2, but the self-respect, the lesson it taught, and the feeling of goodwill it bought were priceless.

Kindness doesn’t always mean you aided someone financially. Treating others with respect, giving a well-deserved compliment, and saying something compassionate to that embarrassed mom at the store whose kid is having a screeching snot-blowing hissy fit on the floor – none of those things cost a penny but they mean a lot to the recipients.

How does this help make you more mentally resilient? It is a way of saying to yourself, “This situation might be bad but I still have the ability to do something kind for others. I am not powerless. I am not broken.” It also helps you to stop feeling so sorry for yourself and dwelling on your own problems.

Take care of yourself.

Another step toward being mentally resilient is taking care of yourself. You cannot let others drain you of all your efforts and energy, and it seems to me that others are always willing to do just that.

Taking care of yourself could be as simple as saying no to additional commitments. Most of us are programmed to automatically say “yes” because we don’t want to be rude. But stop and think about whether the thing being asked of you adds to your life or takes away from it. We do have the right to say no, so being practicing this and become a guardian of your time. This is particularly true if you’re an introvert. We introverted souls need the time between “peopling” to recharge if we want to be our best selves. Spend this time nurturing yourself: read a book, write in a journal, go be in nature all by yourself.

Do you feed yourself well? Some of this is dependent on budget, but at the very least, avoid processed foods and cook simple meals for yourself. Skip the drive-through on a busy day and go home to a plate of veggies and hummus instead. Nourish yourself instead of shoving convenient calories in your mouth. And give yourself permission to sit down at the table and eat like a civilized human instead of eating in the car on the way to some commitment or while you multitask. You deserve 15 minutes to just enjoy your food, don’t you?

Your physical well-being is likewise important. You need to take time out of your day to move your body. This could be anything from walking the dogs instead of just letting them out in the yard to going to a yoga class to riding your bicycle somewhere instead of driving. You don’t need to feel guilty for taking an hour out of your day to improve your health.

Surround yourself with positive people.

Remember above when I said that words matter? I’m not just talking about your words.

I’m talking about the words of the people with whom you surround yourself. your life. Motivational speaker Jim Rohn famously said, “You are the average of the five people you spend the most time with.”  I’ve found this to be very true in both my professional life and my personal life.

We have all had that one friend who does nothing but complain about his life from the second you get on the phone, the one for whom no suggestion will possibly help, the one who is firm in her belief that her problem is so unique that it requires hours of analysis. You might also have a friend who consistently pees in your Cheerios. If you say, “I have this great idea” she says, “I guess so” like you’ve lost your mind. If you tell them about a person you met, he immediately begins to find fault with your new friend. If you tell her about something awesome that happened at work, she feels compelled to warn you that your euphoria is based on one false premise or another. If you’re like me, those phone calls end with you feeling utterly exhausted and your sails completely without their previous wind.

I’m not saying you have to cut out all the Eeyores in your life, but you should also have friends and loved ones who build you up and encourage you to meet your goals.  Limit your time with the Eeyores of the world, while still being kind. Set some boundaries for yourself because while sometimes the negativity is just in their nature, at other times, these folks actually don’t want you to succeed and this is their way of undermining your progress.

Look for people who have similar goals. If you’re a prepper, make some prepper friends. Those friends don’t even have to be in-person friends. They can be online friends through forums or social media. To meet people locally who share these goals, don’t make your guidelines too rigid. This article has lots of ideas about meeting prepper friends.

And all your friends don’t have to share your interest in prepping and survival. Just look for good-hearted people with the same values and positive attitudes. Look for others who are happy and successful. These are the folks who will build you up, listen to your ideas with excitement, cheer you on as you strive to meet your goals, and be downright thrilled for you when things go right. These are people who make you feel good instead of making you doubt yourself and they are priceless treasures.

Have faith.

Faith can help you through the darkest of times. It can greatly contribute to your mental resilience because it helps you to make sense of the bad things you’re going through. What that faith is can vary for different people according to their belief systems.

If you are a religious person, having faith goes hand in hand with having a resilient mindset. If you are a true believer you know that these dark times are happening for a reason and that you are in the capable hands of your Creator. This can give you comfort and can help you to know that you are loved and there is Someone who looks after the tiniest sparrow and of course, you.

And if you are non-religious, there are still things in which you can have faith. Nature and the law of total probability tell you that, no, you are not being pinpointed to be the sole recipient of every possible bad thing that might happen. It’s just not how the universe works. The science of luck says that you, personally, are in charge of your destiny, which takes us back to the other suggestions in this article.

Whatever you believe in, turn to that during difficult times when you need some encouragement.

Find something to laugh about.

It sounds so trite, but laughter really is the best medicine. If you can find something to laugh about, you’re going to be okay no matter what has happened.

Tell funny stories. See the humor in your situation. There’s nearly always something funny out there, even in the worst of situations. Many people who have survived traumatic times have a very dark sense of humor and I believe that’s a healthy coping mechanism.

Just don’t let the bad times steal your joy and your humor. It’s easy to do. It’s much simpler to bemoan everything than it is to giggle when your cat falls off the side of the table and pretends like he meant to do it. The ability to laugh during difficult times does not come naturally for everyone, but if you work at it, you can find the humor.

After my father’s funeral, we were in stitches sitting around the table talking about his funny descriptions of food, like “white” ice cream and “brown” ice cream. It sounds silly, but I’m sure he would have rather heard us laughing affectionately than crying.

In good times, finding something to laugh about is as easy as looking up funny cat videos on YouTube. In dark times, it can be harder, but it’s there – laughter is always there and it is absolutely free.

Push through.

The most important factor of a resilient mind is your ability to just push through.

Have you ever had a string of unfortunate events that made it hard to even get out of bed? In my bio on this website, I wrote about the horrible few years that led to me leaving the corporate world and throwing myself into writing this website. It was all horrible and a reader once (rather rudely) commented that “she failed at everything she’s ever done and she’s PROUD of it.” What that charming reader missed is that despite failures, loss, and a period of time that would have driven some folks to their knees, I pushed through it. I made it to the other side through grim determination.

The ability to push through the dark times and not just let them happen to you is the difference between staying in your boat in the rapids and paddling diligently to avoid crashing against the rocks or falling out of the boat and just getting dragged and pummeled by the rushing water and only surviving if the water spits you out.

You can be the person who gives up and hopes that things work out. Or you can be the person who grits her teeth, straightens her shoulders, and forces things to work out. You can be the cooperative kidnapping victim or the one who escapes out the window and runs barefoot through the forest.

Life is like one of those “choose your own story” books. You can be the person who picks the way your story goes, or you can be the person who lets the story happen to them.

If you choose inaction and victimhood, your survival is the result of nothing but luck. But if you fight, if you push through determined to get to the other side, you are a person who can determine his or her own life. Sure, things won’t always be perfect. Sometimes you need to take some time to wallow in sorrow or grief. But then you need to GET THE HECK UP AND PUSH THROUGH IT. Definitely, this path is difficult. But the crappy things in life will happen whether you push or get pushed. Why not increase the likelihood of things working out by setting your direction and forcing them to do so? Quitters never win and winners never quit.

Be resilient.

Yesterday was my father’s birthday. He left us ten years ago and it was the worst thing that has ever happened to me. It was hard to come out of that on the side of resilience but I know he would have wanted me to do so. Things really went downhill for a while after he passed but I was determined to thrive and succeed again in his honor.

This was written with my precious daughters in mind. I hope that if they’ve learned just one thing from me, it’s that you can overcome anything life throws at you, even when it feels like everything is getting thrown at you at once. You may end up with scars, physical and mental. But scars shouldn’t stop you from seeking adventure and constantly moving forward.

You don’t stop until you’re dead. Every time you get knocked down, you get back up. You make the bad things mean something. You honor those who left this world too soon by moving forward and grabbing your life and living the daylights out of it. You think of those loved ones and you do the things they didn’t have time to do and you thrive because that’s what they’d have wanted for you.

You are strong.

You are resilient.

You can get through anything. The power is yours.

How do you build mental resilience?

Do you consider yourself to be a mentally resilient person? Why or why not? In what ways do you think you could build your mental resilience? Share your thoughts in the comments.

About Daisy

Daisy Luther is a coffee-swigging, gun-toting blogger who writes about current events, preparedness, frugality, voluntaryism, and the pursuit of liberty on her website, The Organic Prepper. She is widely republished across alternative media and she curates all the most important news links on her aggregate site, PreppersDailyNews.com. Daisy is the best-selling author of 4 books and runs a small digital publishing company.  She lives in the mountains of Virginia with her family. You can find her on FacebookPinterest, and Twitter.

Daisy Luther

Daisy Luther

Daisy Luther is a coffee-swigging, globe-trotting blogger. She is the founder and publisher of three websites.  1) The Organic Prepper, which is about current events, preparedness, self-reliance, and the pursuit of liberty on her website, 2)  The Frugalite, a website with thrifty tips and solutions to help people get a handle on their personal finances without feeling deprived, and 3) PreppersDailyNews.com, an aggregate site where you can find links to all the most important news for those who wish to be prepared. She is widely republished across alternative media and  Daisy is the best-selling author of 5 traditionally published books and runs a small digital publishing company with PDF guides, printables, and courses. You can find her on FacebookPinterest, Gab, MeWe, Parler, Instagram, and Twitter.

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19 Responses

  1. I Loved your article! Your way of thinking has helped me through so many hard things. Attitude makes such a difference. Thanks for all your Great articles .

  2. Great article!
    A lot of things or events in life are made better or worse by the meaning we individually give them.
    There is a great book: Biology Of A Belief- by Bruce Lipton that expounds on this.

  3. You’re a gifted writer and just a good person Daisy! This article is a keeper! Thanks for all you do.

  4. I especially loved the part about laughing. Finding humor in things or just forcing yourself to physically smile can shift your mood on the spot. You don’t have to wait for a SHTF situation!! Great article, Daisy.

  5. lost husband unexpectedly in september very hard thanks for article not yet able to see any good but maybe eventually

    1. I’m so sorry for your loss. It takes a lot of time to get through losing your life partner and I think it’s even worse when it’s sudden. Much love to you.

    2. So very sorry for your loss, but, please take comfort in the thought that he isn’t gone for good. You WILL see him again, and, hopefully, in the VERY NEAR FUTURE !

  6. I lost my Dad one year ago in March. It is, hands down, the hardest thing I have ever been through. He was my go to person when I had a problem because I got the truth, whether I liked it or not. It’s a lonely road without him but I’m finally coming out the other side. I have my own family to think about and he would want me to take care of his grandsons. My faith in the Lord is what has gotten me through and is still seeing me through. This is another legacy of my Daddy and my Mother. I am blessed and hope that I pass this down to my children and grandchildren. I don’t know how people get through this life without God by their side.

    1. I’m so sorry, Lisa – losing a Dad never gets easier, I don’t think. Both my children and I have lost dads, and every year around their birthdays and Father’s Day, it’s so painful. I’m glad that your faith has helped you through this.

  7. Your Preppers’ Canning Guide would be a lot more useful if it included metric conversion for those of us not in the US. Even if it’s just a table at the back of the book. When the grid goes down there won’t be an internet to help with conversion.

    1. I’m so sorry – I never even thought of that. I will pass this on to my publishing company and hopefully they can add it in on the next run. Thank you very much for the suggestion!

    2. Meanwhile assuming you have a printer you can use the internet to print out yourself an conversion chart and secure it to your cook books. Otherwise you would have to wait until Daisy’s publisher decided to do a version 2.0 International measurements canning cookbook.

      Mental resilience cannot be bought. It’s a mindset that you choose daily sometimes moment by moment not to be a victim and more forward to Honor yourself and those that were-are important to you. Religion can help or hinder as I have observed over the decades of my life. It’s how you choose to live a life “Not of quiet (or not so quiet ) desperation OR choose to Honor what is important to you”.

      That said as often I’ve had to comfort the dying I’ve never heard a Atheist declare his-herself as one. All I’ve known seek love and peace from a Supreme Being.

  8. Daisy,
    I love your writing. But this is by far my favorite article. It made me cry, just thinking about the things I’ve been through and what it has taken to make it through. I love all the points you made and especially Faith. Because , I know without Faith I could never get through my life as I have. I also believe that people I love would want me to be happy and live a full life. And I like adventures.

  9. Your writing just blows me away sometimes, Daisy. Your phrase “living the day lights out of it” is going to stay in my head in particular. As someone whose boat gets overwhelmed sometimes – thank you.

  10. Best article to date, Daisy. Thanks so much for your honesty and integrity.

    I went through a bleak period a couple of years ago when my mother was quite sick, things were going badly at work, money was tighter than ever before and we were facing a move in just a few months with no luck finding a new place to live.

    I was blessed to have good friends to talk to, and who helped me with giving me rides to visit my mom, to the store and work. Who helped me apply for low income housing. And who not only listened to me, but who nagged me to act when I was paralyzed with fear. Who made sure I was taking care of myself. Who told me jokes when I needed to smile and reminded me of those who were worse off than I was when I needed to hear that.

    God bless them all.

  11. Thank you for a well thought out and presented article. I believe that I am quite a mentally resillient person.
    I have come to learn through my life experiences and training as a counsellor/therapist/spiritual seeker, that we create our own reality with the thoughts and beliefs we hold. As you pointed out, your thoughts are what drive your actions, and if one can reframe their thoughts into a more positive description of the experience, they open new avenues for responding more adaptively than if they remain in the negative thought frame.
    If you have anxiety or depression, you can take all the medication you want, but won’t return to positive mental health until you change your thoughts and eventually beliefs that keep you trapped in the anxiety and depression. The meds will alleviate the symptoms but don’t address the issues that keep you stuck.
    So thoughts and beliefs are important.
    I am of the belief that we each individually and collectively create our own reality. We are the ones that give all the meaning to everything we experience. (We have been conditioned from birth to give evrything meaning that others have told us is true.)
    That allows me control over how I respond to any situation, and places me in the role of creator and excludes the role of victim. Unless ,of course, I want to take the easy way out and give my power to another and play the victim.
    I have also come to realize that I am not a body, although my ego requires that I see myself as a body. Medical science has proven that we change 98% of our atoms and molecules in our body every year. That means that we are not a body, but the vast creative intelligence (spirit) that integrates the billions of atoms and molecules of the body, and does the billions of calculations every minute that allows the body to function without conscious thought. So I see my body as a vehicle with which I can experience this three/four demension experience we call life on earth. I expect when my physical body can no longer function as a vehicle (ie. death) my integrating spirit will leave the vehicle and the body will disintegrate.
    With this viewpoint, I am able to play the game of life regardless of what experience presents itself to me. It can be seen as opportunity to learn mastery.
    That to me is mental resillience.
    Not many people see the world as I do however.

  12. A few years ago there was a book. It was about writing 3 things down every day, not just during bad times, that you were grateful for. It changed my attitude. Instead of looking at life as just something to slog through I started to see joy.

    Also, I had a friend who was always complaining about his boss. I said is there anything you can learn from her. It changed his perspective. She ‘a still a pain, but he spends a little less time on the negative feelings.

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