Monday 27 September 2021 at 1:01pm

What is resilience? And why do I need a resilience habit?

Resilience definition



  1. the capacity to recover quickly from difficulties or shock; toughness.
  2. the ability of a substance or object to spring back into shape; elasticity.


The last two years have been full of difficulties and shocks.  Schools closing and children sent home, workplaces shut and being asked to work from home, having significant limits put on freedoms that we’d previously taken for granted, working without childcare, or being unable to connect with others in person – the list could go on!


Why did some of us had ‘the capacity to recover quickly’ from these difficulties, and others felt overwhelmed by the weight of them long after they’re gone (us included!)?


What exactly IS resilience, and how can you cultivate it?


What does resilience look like?


Resilience is what gives people the psychological strength to cope with stress and hardship. It’s the mental reservoir of strength that people are able to call on in times of need – it carries them through without falling apart. Psychologists believe that resilient individuals are better able to handle adversity and rebuild their lives after a struggle.


Instead of falling into despair or hiding from problems with unhealthy coping strategies, resilient people face life’s difficulties head-on.


This does not mean that they experience less distress, grief, or anxiety than other people. It means that they use healthy coping skills to handle such difficulties in ways that foster strength and growth. In many cases, they may emerge even stronger than they were before.


Without resilience, people instead become overwhelmed by such experiences. They may dwell on problems and use unhelpful coping mechanisms to deal with life’s challenges.


Characteristics of resilient people


Resilient people show characteristics like:

  • Holding positive views of themselves and their abilities
  • Possessing the capacity to make realistic plans and stick to them
  • Having internal control and intrinsic motivation
  • Being a good communicator
  • Viewing themselves as fighters rather than victims
  • Having high emotional intelligence and managing emotions effectively


Build your resilience habit


Restructure your attitude. Only YOU get to control how you feel about an event – work on building the belief that internal strength and determination, rather than circumstances, has the biggest effect on achievements. This will enable you to bounce back faster, regardless of the situation.


Focus on what you CAN control. Natural disasters, pandemics and the decisions of others are outside of your individual control. By focusing on what you CAN control about a situation, you regain the capacity to steer your own life towards positive outcomes.


Be comfortable with being uncomfortable. To grow and become more resilient, we must get used to being uncomfortable. Only by pushing ourselves outside of our comfort zone can we hope to achieve greater things.


Build your support network. This could be allies at work, supportive friends and family at home, or an online or in-person community that fuels your growth in any area of life (ooooh…that’s us!).  Focus on building genuine human connection based on empathy, compassion and mutual support. It’s a game changer in times of struggle.


Practice gratitude again and again. Remember how much we have to be appreciative of, even on the worst days. We have so much more than we realize, and that awareness can really put things in perspective.  A coach once suggested that, in order to truly practice gratitude, I ought to tape socks to my hands for the day and realise how many tiny actions I took for granted as being trivial to perform.


Take time for you. Having time that is just yours, to make only you happy, is critical to recharge your reserves. Showing resilience in the face of adversity takes strength – you cannot expect to summon such a reserve if you haven’t been habitually building it up.


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