How To Build Resilience When It All Feels Too Hard

by | Values

2021 was meant to be our fresh start.

After a tough 2020, we were meant to put lockdowns, home schooling, and all that other bad stuff behind us.

Then, 2021 came along and gave us an unexpected surprise. And not a good one.

So, after almost 2 years of upheaval, it is no wonder that we are all feeling a bit out of sorts.

It is hard to feel settled when we feel like we don’t have much control over what will happen next week, let alone what will happen a year from now.

Sometimes, it just feels a bit too hard.

But, the good news is that we can find ways to cope with any situation in a positive way.

Building resilience is a great way to do this. It helps us to cope better with stressful situations and deal with the pressure that day to day life is currently creating.

So, how do you build this resilience?

Well, read on to find out:

How To Build Resilience When It All Feels Too Hard

Your Circle Of Control

Part of being resilient is maintaining a positive mindset, as positivity can determine good feelings, thinking, behaviours and outcomes.

When you are feeling overwhelmed, it is hard to maintain that positive mindset. A good way to break those feelings of overwhelm is to embrace your Circle of Control.

Mastering the circle allows you to split everything that is going on around you into three separate areas to better deal with them. The three areas within your circle of control are:

Circle of control: This is the inner most circle and includes the circumstances, issues or problems that we have direct control over. That includes your own behaviours, thoughts and reactions.

Circle of influence: This is the next ring that surrounds your circle of control. The circle of influence includes things that you have indirect control over, such as problems involving other people’s behaviour. You can’t directly control the things other people do, however, you can influence them.

Circle of concern: This is the outermost ring of the circle. Otherwise known as the circle of “no control”, this is where all the things you have no control over sit. It includes things that have happened in the past or that we have no power to change. It is the biggest circle as many things are out of our control.

Being able to section your problems and concerns into these three circles allows you to gain perspective and focus on the things that you can control.

Building Resilience

Having a positive mindset doesn’t mean that you need to be happy all the time. It still means feeling and processing all your usual emotions. What it does mean is maintaining a positive attitude even when it feels like the deck is stacked against you.

There are some effective strategies you can use to build your positive mindset and resilience. They are:

Acknowledge the feelings

The first step is to acknowledge the stress you are feeling. Acknowledging it makes it real and acceptable. Once you have acknowledged the feelings, it reduces the power they hold over you. Identify and accept the emotions and then try to move on from them.

Telling yourself to stop being stressed can be easier said than done! So, try to change environments, even if it is to just get outside for 10 minutes. Move your body, listen to some music, even distract yourself with a good book, or journal a few paragraphs.

Reframe your mindset

Did you know that you can actually use your stress to your advantage?

Sounds odd, but stick with me on this! Firstly, you need to assess the situation to decide if it really is stress you are feeling or whether it is something more manageable, like annoyance or being uncomfortable. This helps the feelings become more manageable.

Then, reframe your feelings of stress to look at them as a challenge rather than a threat. Use that as fuel to help you tackle the things you need to do today.

Prove to yourself you can do it

You are pretty strong. You have weathered plenty of storms before and come out the other side, potentially stronger for it. You can use those past adversities to prove to yourself that you can do it now.

Think about the skills and strengths you have used to overcome challenges in the past and draw on those stories of resilience when you need them most.

Also, centre yourself in your true values to remember what matters the most. If you aren’t sure what they are, then check out my recent blog on discovering your core values here.

Make progress

We all know the cliche that Rome wasn’t built in a day. And it’s true, it wasn’t. It was a progressive project that was pieced together over decades and created a wondrous end product.

So, if we can understand that good things take time, why do we always assume that we can handle everything at once? Instead of trying to tackle big goals in one go, break them down into manageable tasks that you can make progress on.

Completing a set task makes us feel productive. It doesn’t hurt that you get a good hit of dopamine too! Making small progress can lead to more progress. Before you know it, you have conquered your goal and can start working on the next.

Create daily habits

Lockdown restrictions create something of a Groundhog Day situation. Time blends into itself and you can easily lose track of the days. Suddenly, you can’t remember if you actually brushed your teeth that morning or not.

But, if you create daily habits, they help you to feel in control. And when you create positive habits, it’s a little bit like making progress on your goals. You start your day positively and get a win on the board early. By succeeding in performing healthy habits each day, you help to maintain good feelings for yourself and those around you.

Focus on your breathing

Because breathing is second nature, we often forget that we can use it in powerful ways. When you focus on your breathing, you can calm yourself and overwrite the ‘fight or flight’ stress tendencies.

When we are stressed, our breathing can become shallow, increasing our heart rate and anxiety levels. But, by taking deep, purposeful breaths you can alleviate your stress and become grounded in the moment.

Try box breathing technique, which is endorsed by none other than the U.S. Navy SEALs.

Box Breathing

Step 1: Breathe in counting to 4 slowly. Feel the air expand your lungs.

Step 2: Hold your breath for 4 seconds.

Step 3: Slowly exhale through your mouth for 4 seconds.

Step 4: Hold your breath for 4 seconds..

Repeat steps 1 to 4 until you feel re-centered.

Look after yourself

It is really hard to pour from an empty cup. Part of building resilience and effectively processing stressful situations is making sure you have a healthy mind and body.

So, you need to take care of your physical self first. That means getting plenty of quality sleep, maintaining a healthy diet and getting regular physical activity into your week.

Be mindful

When you get stressed, it is easy to feel like the wheels are coming off and you are spiralling out of control. Mindfulness allows you to be fully present and aware of what you are doing. It stops you from being overly reactive to things that are happening around you.

The focused breathing that we already discussed is a great way to become fully present in the moment, so is journaling. Being mindful and present allows you to get out of your head and focus on the here and now where things don’t seem so bad.


Journaling is a really powerful tool. Not only does it encourage mindfulness, but it can improve your mood, focus your mind, organise your thoughts, and help you process complex thoughts.

But, if you haven’t done much journaling before (or you have hit a bit of writer’s block), it can be hard to know what to write about. Luckily, you don’t have to worry about that.

If you sign up to receive my newsletter, you can get 10 journaling prompts directly to your inbox every month. These prompts are designed to help your thoughts and ideas flow, as well as build that all important resilience. Sign up to receive them here.

But for now, here are 10 journaling prompts to help you develop a greater level of resilience:

10 Journaling Prompts For Greater Resilience

  1. What does building resilience mean to you personally?
  2. In which areas of your life do you have the most/the least resilience?
  3. Write about one of your success stories from your past when you displayed resilience.
  4. What areas of your life do you feel most in control of?
  5. What can you let go of in order to feel lighter
  6. What can you do to relax more?
  7. What can make you laugh out loud? How can you bring that experience into your life more often?
  8. What skills and strengths do you have to help you through tough times?
  9. What habits do you have that help you be resilient?
  10. What new habits can you create to support yourself in testing times?

Resilience is a really powerful way to tackle situations that feel too hard. Whether they be lockdown restrictions, a rough patch in your journey, or an epically bad day, resilience can help you make it through positively.

And if you ever feel that your stress is overwhelming you, reach out to me. I help women centre themselves in their values and create a calm life they love.


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