Boost your resilience


Resilience is a buzz word in workplaces at the moment….but what exactly is resilience, and how do we increase it?

There are varying definitions and ways of measuring resilience, but to put it simply, resilience is the psychological capacity to bounce back from setbacks.  Some people are more resilient than others, and seem to cope with setbacks well, but for others, those same setbacks can be quite different.  The important thing to remember, is that resilience can be practiced and built!!

plant-1There are several characteristics that resilient people often share.  These include:

  • The ability to ask for help when needed, and to utilise the support network they have in place.
  • The ability to reflect on longer term goals and values when a setback comes along.
  • The ability to see failure and setbacks as a learning and growth opportunity.

Here are some of my favourite tips to help boost your resilience:

  • Get to know your own warning signs that indicate your stress levels may be feeling too high – what does it look like for you when you’re under more stress than you can cope with?  What are those triggers at work and at home that send your stress levels sky rocketing?  Once you’re aware of these warning signs and triggers, you can actively plan to manage them, by scheduling in activities that help you to cope, such as taking a lunch break, seeking support from your manager at work, going for a walk or to a yoga class, or whatever works for you.
  • Consider your reaction to the situation you’re in.  Remember that no two people experience the same event in the same way – our thoughts and attitudes about an experience strongly colour the experience we then have.  If you’re having a strong emotional reaction, ask yourself the question “is my reaction helping me with doing what I need to do” – if not, try and hold your perspective a little less tightly and focus on the things within your control.
  • Consider the coping style you’re adopting.  There are three main types of coping style – problem focused, which involves doing things that directly impact the problem, emotion focused – which doesn’t change the problem, but helps deal with the emotions you’re experiencing in relation to the problem, and avoidant coping – which involves doing nothing at all.  Problem focused coping has the best outcomes for wellbeing, if you can directly work to resolve the problem.  However, if you’re feeling too emotional, or the problem is currently out of your control (ie, it’s 3am at night!) – engage in emotion focused coping to help relax, refocus and recharge until you can take action in regards to the problem.
  • Make time for positive emotions.  Positive emotions are linked with increases in wellbeing, as well as increased creativity and problem solving ability (read more here!).  Positive emotions can also serve as a buffer against stress and help you to physically recover from stress!  The key takeaway here is that when you’re stressed, it’s more important than ever to do things you enjoy and that make you happy!!
  • Show some GRIT!!  People with GRIT show high levels of passion and perseverance – people high in GRIT can outperform people high in IQ – a bit of GRIT can help you to succeed!!  For more info, see this TED talk by Angela Lee Duckworth.
  • Consider how you perceive stress – can you embrace stress as a challenge, rather than as something harmful?  See this TED talk by Kelly Mcgonigal for some information!!
  • Look after your physical health – if you’re eating well, exercising every day and sleeping 7-8 hours per night, you will be better equipped to cope with stress when it comes along.
  • When a setback comes along, ask yourself these questions:
    • Which of my strengths can I draw upon to help get me through this.
    • What could I learn from this setback?  How could it help me to grow, or to see a bigger perspective?
    • Who can I draw upon from my support network for help?  Do I need practical support or emotional support?  This question can help you determine who the best person may be to help. Are these services you can draw upon, or do you need help from your psychologist or GP.


Would you try these tips?  What else helps you to cope with setbacks?

Don’t forget, if you feel like you’re having difficulty coping with a setback, you can talk to your GP, or contact LifeLine (Australia only) on 13 14 11.

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