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All of us go through times that test our mental well-being, and many of us find ourselves completely overwhelmed at least once in our lives. What matters, though, is how we respond when things are challenging and whether we restore our resilience when things are easier.

Resilience is the ability to face routine challenges and bounce back from exceptional ones. What does it take to create real, lasting resilience?

It requires more than diet, exercise, or meditation: It involves attending to our whole selves. (To learn how you currently score on caring for your well-being, take the resilience quiz below.)

Take a Holistic View

Body. We start with the body because imbalances in nutrient absorption or biorhythms will affect brain chemistry. Remember that we are all built differently so there isn’t a single formula that works for everyone. What foods are most nourishing for you? What kind of movement works best for your body? Learn to live in rhythm with your own nature.

Mind. Your thoughts can cause trouble if you believe every thought to be true. It’s human nature to see what’s wrong, so it’s easy to perceive your circumstances (or yourself) to be much worse than they really are. Train your mind by placing your attention wherever you want it to be and bringing it back whenever it wanders off. Notice your tendency to judge things negatively and let that go as best you can. Slow down, do one thing at a time, and notice what is happening right now. That is mindfulness.

Heart. When you feel threatened or hurt, it’s natural for your heart to shut down. But you have to open up again if you want a genuine connection with others. Cultivate an open heart by practicing gratitude for the good things in your life, compassion for yourself, and kindness toward others.

Soul. If you view the soul as the deepest sense of who we are, what we love, and why we are here. Soul is what guides us to become fully ourselves and to live a meaningful life. We must first accept that we have this inner life, and then nd the time and stillness to listen to it. And then, importantly, we have to act on these inner urgings.

Body, mind, heart, and soul — attend to any one and you’ll feel better. Attend to all four and you’ll flourish.

Test Your Resilience

To understand where to begin boosting your resilience, rate yourself on the statements below from 1 (hardly ever) to 5 (nearly always). Choose 3 if it’s true more often than not. 

1. I allow plenty of time to eat and mostly choose healthy foods.

2. I enjoy moving my body nearly every day.

3. I seldom feel rushed and, when I do, I intentionally slow down.

4. I try to keep my attention on just one thing at a time.

5. I allow myself to feel all of my emotions — the “good” and the “bad.”

6. I don’t worry when my mood gets down because I know how to bring it back up. 

7. I am aware of my thoughts and I don’t believe all of them. 

8. I like myself as I am (even if I could use some improvement).

9. I am grateful for how many people support and care for me. 

10. I pause most days to notice and really be with nature.

Any score over 25 means you’re doing pretty well. A score of 3 and above on a statement indicates a strength. A score of 1 or 2 indicates you need more attention in that area. Work to improve those areas and greater resilience and well-being will follow.

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