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Resilient Wisconsin: Build Strength and Resilience

We all experience ups and downs in life. Feelings of loss or worry. A serious health or relationship problem. Stress at work or substance use in the home. Even natural disasters and large-scale emergencies.

Difficulties in life can make it hard to take care of yourself and the people around you. Learning ways to cope with, and recover from, tough times is how we build resilience. Without it, we can become overwhelmed by trauma, toxic stress, and other health issues.

Childhood trauma or the risk and protective factors in a person’s life and their surrounding community may contribute to their level of resiliency. But our ability to manage our overall health and the health of our communities when faced with difficulties isn’t set in stone. Like a muscle, resilience is a skill that we can strengthen at any time. And that’s important. Why? Because people who learn to bounce back from tough times help make everyone around them more resilient, too

Two adults laughing

Why is it important to develop resilience?

Resilience gives us the strength to bounce back from challenges in life. And we all face hardships at some point in life. But those who develop resilience can tap into their strengths and support systems. This gives us the best chance to overcome challenges and work through problems.

Community resilience

Communities are facing more challenges than ever. We've seen an increase in violence, natural disasters, and public health emergencies. But what can communities do? Build resilience together. That is how you improve community health and overcome challenges.

Individual resilience

Individual resilience promotes your overall health. We all face tough times in life. But resilience helps get you through those tough times. You'll be better prepared to adapt to and bounce back from life’s challenges.

Understanding resilience

There are many different types of resilience we can develop to help us overcome challenges. Let’s look at a few below.

Adult stretching their legs

Physical resilience

Physical resilience helps our bodies overcome physical health challenges. It helps us bounce back from sickness or accidents. It can also help us manage or heal ongoing physical health issues.

Adult working with a child in the background

Mental resilience

Mental resilience helps us work through tough times by developing problem-solving skills.

Adult looking at the camera

Emotional resilience

Emotional resilience helps us respond to challenges that bring about negative feelings or emotions like anger, fear, vulnerability, or sadness.

Two adults shaking hands as a third adult looks on

Social resilience

Social resilience gives us the ability to connect with those in our lives and communities so we can support each other through challenging times.


Try these strategies for building resilience

These resilience-building practices can help you learn to adapt and recover in the face of adversity.

  • Lean on healthy relationships: Build a supportive network of people who care about you and spend quality time (even if virtually) with them.
  • Take care of your body: It’s easier to maintain your mental and emotional health when you feel good. Make an effort to eat well, get enough sleep, and exercise.
  • Avoid harmful behaviors: Look for healthy ways to deal with difficult emotions. Trying to escape these emotions through substance use will create more stress.
  • Take charge: We can’t always control our circumstances, but we can control our response. Break problems into manageable tasks and move forward.
  • Check in with your feelings: When stressful events occur, it’s important to take a step back and reflect before we react. It helps to understand where your emotions are coming from before you share them.
  • Learn from the past: Recognize who or what was helpful (or unhelpful) the last time you were in a stressful situation. Remembering past challenges can help you overcome new ones.
  • Ask for help when you need it: Reaching out to family or friends, a health care professional, or a community resource isn’t easy, but knowing how to accept help is a sign of strength.

Learn the five strengths that keep every family strong

While every family has challenges, they also have strengths that they can draw upon during difficult times. Understanding how to build upon your family’s strengths in five essential areas can help you feel more confident, less stressed and better connected to your children. Go to for more information. Five for Families is a project of the Wisconsin Child Abuse and Neglect Prevention Board.

Last revised August 28, 2023