Simply put, resilience is the ability to overcome or adapt to challenging life experiences.  Learning how to build resilience in recovery requires mental, emotional, and behavioral flexibility.  In recovery from a substance use disorder, there is no shortage of adversity.  Being resilient can mean the difference between a fulfilling life in recovery and a return to active use.  Learning new ways to move through challenges can help you cope with challenges more effectively and maintain a more positive outlook on your life.

Building resilience is a process that may take some time. Like many things in recovery, resilience is a practice comprised of a variety of skills that you can improve with consistent effort and patience. Whether you’re going through a rough patch now or you want to be prepared for the future, here are some tips on fostering resilience in your recovery.

Expect Challenges

It can be nice to think that once we enter recovery, life will turn itself around right away. The truth is that each phase of recovery will have its own set of challenges.  Facing challenges in recovery should not be a source of discouragement or a signal that you’re failing. Instead it is a natural part of the process and a valuable opportunity for growth.

Have confidence that you are able to cope with the challenges in front of you.  Life will improve in recovery with consistent effort, but when challenges do arise remind yourself that setbacks and challenges aren’t permanent. 

Build Strong Supports

Just as in other facets of recovery, having a strong support system is crucial in building resilience and protecting your recovery. Surround yourself with caring, supportive people who you are comfortable confiding in.  Talking about your struggles won’t make them disappear, but it will allow you to share your feelings, get feedback, and possibly come up with solutions to whatever you are facing.   

Change the Narrative

If you’re in the midst of a challenging time, it can be really difficult to maintain a positive or optimistic attitude. Learning to reframe our internal dialogue is crucial in building resilience.  When something bad happens, we have a tendency to rehash the event or dwell in the emotional pain.  Staying stuck won’t allow you to move forward towards healing and growth.

Challenge your thinking when you notice negative thoughts creeping in.  If you find that you’re struggling to reframe your thinking, reach out for support from your therapist, friends, or other trusted individuals in your life.

Take Action

Problems rarely go away on their own, no matter how much we wish they would. Simply ignoring an issue will usually just prolong the problem and may even make matters worse.  Instead of waiting to see what will happen, begin working to resolve the situation immediately.  There may not be a simple and easy solution to every issue, but there are always steps you can take towards a resolution.  Quickly getting into the solution will reduce your stress and leave you open to a greater amount of options.

Get Comfortable with Change

Change is the only constant in life, but that doesn’t mean it necessarily gets easier or more comfortable. Instead of resisting change, focus your energy on remaining flexible and adaptable to the ebbs and flows of life.  Staying stuck in black-and-white thinking or avoiding discomfort at all costs can leave you crushed by abrupt life changes.  Recovery has shown us that change is an opportunity for growth, not something to be feared.  Despite the uncertainty and discomfort change may bring initially, if we remain open and adaptable we may find greater fulfillment in our lives and our recovery.

Practice Gratitude

Find time each day to reflect on the progress you have made and to practice gratitude for what you have and how far you’ve come. Practicing gratitude leads to a more positive mindset and leaves most people feeling happier and more satisfied with their lives. Having a positive outlook will help you confidently face any challenges that may present themselves.

Find the Balance

Taking care of yourself physically and mentally has many benefits when learning how to build resilience in recovery. Prioritizing self-care will give you more energy to focus on your development, increase productivity, and help prepare you to face difficult situations in life.

Stay Committed

Resilience may take some time to build.  It’s important to remain committed to practicing skills to continue to build your resilience.  Building resilience can look different from person to person, but it is possible for everyone, so don’t get discouraged if you find yourself struggling with a problematic event. Contact Greenbriar Treatment Center today for more information on how to build resilience in recovery.