19 Ways to Bounce Back from Just About Anything

Want to bounce back better and faster when life hits you with unexpected surprises?

Here’s a quick list of some of the most useful tips to get back on your feet.

1. Acknowledge what is in front of you. If you’re in the middle of a bad situation, it’s time to really see what is happening. You must be completely honest with yourself – no more denial or wishful thinking that it will get better.  Strip away the intense emotion from it, identify the problem, and accept that it is reality.

2. Realize that change is always going to be in your life.

You struggle against change. You waste a lot of energy making sure that things stay the same in your life. Save your energy for better things and accept that change truly is a normal part of life. Expect it.

3. Learn to be an optimist.

Optimism and pessimism are ways you explain why things happen to you. Being optimistic allows you to bounce back because it helps you focus on the positive and not predict the negative. The web is full of great articles on how to be an optimist instead of a pessimist. Go check it out.

4. Be nice to yourself.

Here are the three keys to self-compassion proposed by researcher Kristin Neff:  a.) Stop your inner criticism. Treat yourself as you would your best friend, b.) Everyone has flaws. Everyone. Remember that you’re a part of the human race so you’re bound to make mistakes, and, c.) Practice mindfulness by noticing your thoughts and feelings, but have no judgment about them.

5. Let it go.

Grasping tightly to a belief, behavior, or material object only drains your energy and narrows your focus onto that object. In order to be resilient, you need flexibility and openness to options and opportunities.

6. Have a tribe.

It’s vital to have friends and family who can rally around you in an emergency. Make sure you have a good, stable tribe at your disposal.

7. Look for the silver lining.

Always look for the lessons and gifts that are inherent in adversity. Maybe you’ll learn that you’re stronger than you thought. Maybe you’ll find out how many people really care about you. The silver lining is there if you look for it.

8. Develop post-traumatic growth.

When faced with trauma, a small number of people develop Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder, the majority of people bounce back naturally after a month or so, and the remaining people actually grow and benefit from the experience. How? The basics are being optimistic and looking for the lessons in their lives. Give it a try.

9. Find a mentor.

Researcher about childhood resilience shows that the presence of even one caring adult in a child’s life can make all the difference. It can for you, too. Find someone you admire and trust and use them for guidance and loving support.

10. Look at problems from different angles.

Although the crisis in front of you may look dire, ask yourself if there is another way to look at it. Might it actually open up opportunities for you? Are you magnifying it unnecessarily?

11. Remember that you’ve made it through tough times before.

Unless you’ve led a charmed life, you’ve been through difficult situations in your past. And you’re still here to talk about it, so have faith that you’ll make it through again.

12. Think about kaleidoscopes.

When you look through a kaleidoscope, you see a beautiful pattern. It’s so pretty, you may not want to change it. But, eventually, you have to turn the dial. Suddenly there is a chaotic jumble in front of your eyes but then, magically, another beautiful pattern emerges. Life can be like this, too. So remember when things are jumbled in your life that they may be actually forming a brand new, beautiful image.

13. Take a break.

It’s important to refresh both your body and mind so take a break now and then. And remember that it’s okay to distract yourself from mental and emotional experiences like grief and rumination, too. You could use a break. Go do something fun. Really, it’s okay.

14. Remember that you already are resilient.

As mentioned in #8 above, most people are naturally resilient and you are probably one of them. Just because you struggle for a bit doesn’t mean you’re not resilient. It means you’re human.

15. Common humanity.

Remember that you are a part of the human species and therefore quite likely to have some flaws and make mistakes. But everyone does. You are not alone in your experience of struggling with external or internal adversity.

16. No one said you have to like it.

You know what? Sometimes things really do suck. So, just because you need to be resilient doesn’t mean you have to like the situation you’re in. You can be accepting, open, and flexible while at the same time acknowledging that the problem sucks.

17. Look up.

Do you find that you keep your eyes to the ground a lot? Do something different – look up! You might see something you’ve never seen before. And looking up helps provide that distraction that we talked about in #13 as you notice the color of the sky, that cool piece of architecture, or the intricate spider web design in the corner of the room.

18. Simply notice.

Feeling bad? Okay, but you don’t have to buy into your emotions. Just notice them. And withhold judgment about them or yourself.

19. Be kind.

Commit random acts of kindness. Helping others creates positive emotions in you which then expands your sense of possibilities in the world –  the idea that there is more than one way to get through your current crisis. Problem-solving a situation becomes much easier and you’ll find that positive emotions help exponentially with your ability to bounce back.

Bobbi Emel is a psychotherapist who blogs about bouncing back in life. Download her FREE guide: Bounce Back! 5 keys to survive and thrive through life’s ups and downs. You can find more of Bobbi’s writing at The Bounce Blog.

37 Responses to 19 Ways to Bounce Back from Just About Anything

  1. Dr. Mike says:

    Great ideas, Bobbi! I really like your kaleidoscope example. I’ve always loved kaleidoscopes and now I wonder if it’s because I enjoy seeing the disarray turn into something beautiful. Life does give us lots of that, like a mess of ideas tumbling through your mind that eventually turn into some concrete direction or even a messy mixture of ingredients that turn into a wholesome baked good. It can be tricky to endure the disarray at times, but it’s often worth the wait.

  2. Christine@FinancialFixers says:

    Everyone I know always wants to know how I stay so
    optimistic about every situation. Your number 3 definitely stuck out to me – “Being
    optimistic allows you to bounce back because it helps you focus on the positive
    and not predict the negative.”  It’s
    definitely true & I always tell people to focus on the good things in life
    and to not let the negative things stress you out. They usually look at me with
    a look that says” easier said than done”. However, it can work!!


  3. JB says:

    Nice article. On number 17, was “intricate spider web design in the corner of the room” meant to be tongue-in-cheek? That gave me a pause.

  4. Suchismita says:

    Random acts of kindness. I think that is the best advice you can give. Whether you are up or down in life, if you just practice kindness it is a great idea. You can never feel down when you are doing something that benefits others. Focusing on others is the best way to help oneself too. Ralph waldo Emerson had said that you cannot help others without helping yourself.

  5. Bobbi Emel says:

    Hi Dr. Mike,

    Yes, there is something compelling about kaleidoscopes! I think the key is to realize that the turning can create a beautiful pattern and, if it happens upon a pattern you don’t like, just turn it again! 

    Thanks so much for your insightful comment.

  6. Bobbi Emel says:

    Christine, it is easier said than done, but it IS doable! Lots of people are stuck in a worrying mindset and it just doesn’t have to be this way. (Check out my most recent article on my blog called “How to stop worrying.”) I’m glad that you are able to help other people see the bright side of situations!

  7. Bobbi Emel says:

    JB, I was wondering if anyone was going to notice that. I just thought it was kind of funny that we can see beauty even when we forget to dust the cobwebs!

  8. Bobbi Emel says:


    You are right, kindness can cure many ills, both our own and those of others.

  9. Digital Dea says:

    There’s a great documentary on happiness streaming on Netflix

    . According to the research presented, 50% of an individual’s happiness is determined by genetics. That leaves the other 50% completely up to you!!

    —PERMA is an acronym for the five pillars of flourishing that Martin Seligman identified through his research into positive psychology:P – Positive Emotions – a baseline propensity for experiencing joy and pleasure.E – Engagement (or flow) – being consciously and mindfully involved in our activities.R – Relationships – having enjoyable and supportive interactions with others.M – Meaning – creating a purposeful narrative about our lives.A – Accomplishments – completing our goals and following our core values.
    PERMA is an acronym for the five pillars of flourishing that Martin Seligman identified through his research into positive psychology:
    P – Positive Emotions – a baseline propensity for experiencing joy and pleasure.E – Engagement (or flow) – being consciously and mindfully involved in our activities.R – Relationships – having enjoyable and supportive interactions with others.M – Meaning – creating a purposeful narrative about our lives.A – Accomplishments – completing our goals and following our core values.

  10. Natalie says:

    I love this tips. For me #1 and #18 are connected and the most overlooked areas. We get all caught up in emotions and and can’t move ahead until we get those under control. Stepping back and looking at the basic facts and not the MEANING we give them is the key. For example, losing you job does not mean you are a failure. It just means that you lost your job, nothing more. It does not define what kind of person you are.

  11. Priska says:

    I like #2, #4 and #11.
    #2 Realizing that change is a natural part of life helps to stop ruminating.
    #4 Be nice to yourself: You won’t bounce back if your giving yourself a hard time.
    #11 Remember that you’ve made it through tough times before: Doing this motivates me to bounce back because it brings into my awareness not only have I bounced back I’ve also gained more understanding in life.

  12. Bobbi Emel says:

    Hi Digital Dea, you’re right, there is a lot of very interesting information about happiness out right now. I wrote about the “slices of happiness pie” here:

  13. Bobbi Emel says:

    Thanks, Natalie. I couldn’t agree more with you!

  14. Bobbi Emel says:

    Priska, it’s nice to be able to pick and choose between all of these tips, isn’t it? I’m glad you have found some that work for you!

  15. Jim Bessey says:

    Great advice start to finish, Bobbi!
    I wouldn’t have thought you could actually provide NINETEEN techniques for Bouncing Back. Yet I found myself nodding at or noting down every single one. You’ve given me some strong and positive tools to improve even my crummiest days. Thank you, sincerely!

  16. Bobbi Emel says:

    And I’m sure I could share more, too, Jim! There’s just a lot of ways that we either already have or can learn to have that can help us through the tough times in our lives. Thanks so much for your feedback!

  17. I think that my fav is 2. Realize that change is always going to be in your life. and the one that I need to work on the most is 6. Have a tribe. I have a lot of great friends, but not many that would be able to bare me through a crisis.  I need to work on that. 

  18. Bobbi Emel says:

    Hey Lori,

    Yeah, the tribe is pretty important to making it through adversity. But even one person who is close to you is better than none!

  19. Bala says:

    those are some great points

  20. iMobileRescue says:

    Simple, but powerful, as usual! I love the one about just paying attention to your emotions. And.. if you can mentally do it, looking at problems from different angles. As easy as it sounds, a painful amount of people just don’t execute that strategy. To include me sometimes (tweeting as Ryan, President, iMR) 

  21. Bobbi Emel says:

    Hey Ryan,

    Thanks for your feedback. 

    I think stepping back and looking at the problem from a different angle can be difficult especially for people like me who tend to be linear thinkers. I know what was helpful for me was reading books about creativity like Von Oech’s “A Whack on the Side of the Head.” That helped me to  start thinking outside the box a bit.

  22. Gary Korisko says:

    Love the post, Bobbi. Along with #1 I always try to take a good hard look at what part I might have played in whatever bad situation I find myself in. Bad things happen, but I find that often we make choices that put (or keep) us in their paths. My point is not to dwell on mistakes, but to acknowledge them and learn from them.

    You also get a big “Amen” from me on #5 “Let it Go!”

    I really enjoyed this one. 

  23. Bobbi Emel says:

    Hey Gary,

    Sounds like you have your own list of ways to bounce back that work really well for you! I like how you acknowledge your own responsibility in a situation, learn from it, and then let it go. That’s a really productive process.

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  25. Amit Amin says:

    “Learn to be an optimist.” No, I refuse! 
    These are great tips. One thought –

    “Look for the silver lining.” I think it’s more accurate to say, invent the silver lining. 

    I think we’re getting the causality backwards. Because it is better for our mental health to find meaning from adversity, many of us naturally do it, and others are encouraged to do so by wise seeming sentiments like the one you mentioned. 

    Actually I’m going to stop here, because I realized typing out my full train-of-thought would require enough words to fill a blog post. So I shall do that… eventually.  

  26. Bobbi Emel says:

    That’s a great point about inventing the silver lining, Amit. It’s true that we need to create meaning out of adversity so perhaps we also need to manifest the silver lining.

  27. Jane Robinson - Art Epicurean says:

    This is a keeper!  I’ve printed it, bookmarked it and shared it.  Thanks.

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  29. iMobileRescue says:

    I know just what you mean.. same here. Linear is the way! Or.. not sometimes. LOL ! I have to step back and get a diff perspective too. It’s always helpful though :) Thanks for your response. !

  30. Tania Belkin says:

    Hi Bobbi,
    Great post.  I especially like looking for a silver lining and developing a post tramautic growth.  I like to think that God has better things in store for me :)

  31. Saundra says:

    Great article…while I am an eternal optimist, this is a terrific reminder for those days when my happy button gets stuck.

  32. Sec59980 says:

    I really like these suggestions. I am going through a really tough time right now, and I just happen to come across this blog. It was really uplifting.

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  34. Tracy says:

    This has really helped me get threw tough times

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