Building resilience during adversity

Thought of the week

Resilience is our capacity to cope with stress and adversity: our ability to ‘get on with it’ when we need to, and to ‘bounce back’ after difficulty. It helps us adapt when we cannot change something, to learn from it, and to hopefully continue to live a (perhaps more) fulfilling life.

 “Our greatest glory is not in never falling, but in rising every time we fall.”  Confucius

We aren’t born resilient, but we can all prepare ourselves by putting in the building blocks towards a more resilient life. 

So how can I build my resilience?  

  • Accept that change is a part of living

    Acceptance is key: if you cannot change the current circumstances focus on those you can alter. Trying to control the situation may make us feel lost, helpless, and powerless - but taking control of ourselves and putting our efforts where they can have the most impact will make us feel empowered and confident.

    “Some days there won’t be a song in your heart,
    ing anyway” Emory Amelia

  • Avoid seeing crises as unbeatable problems

    You can’t change the fact that highly stressful events happen, but you can change how you interpret and respond to these events. Look beyond what is happening right now to see how this is a challenge to be resolved, not a paralysing event or a negative reflection on our abilities or self-worth. 

    Recognising what you have done well in previous difficult situations will help you build on the good.

  • Keep perspective
    We need to not think of ourselves as victims – but focus our time and energy on changing the things that we do have control over. Avoid blowing any event out of proportion.  Even when something is painful try to keep a broad, long-term perspective.

  • Maintain a hopeful outlook
    Remember that bad events are temporary rather than permanent, that they don’t have to affect every area of your life, that they are not personal.  Optimistic people expect good things to happen.

    Visualizing what you want, rather than worrying about what you fear will enable you to better manage your emotions.

  • Take care of yourself
    Pay attention to our own needs and feelings; when you are stressed, worried and anxious it is easy to neglect yourself.  As always, try to get sufficient sleep, eat and drink well and exercise. Keep up activities that you enjoy and find relaxing. Exercise regularly. Taking care of yourself helps to keep your mind and body in the best place to deal with situations that require resilience.

    Mindfulness, spiritual practices, writing or drawing to record deep thoughts and feelings relating to trauma are all great ways of coping in general and strengthening resilience.


General resilience building tips

  • Make connections
    Keep in touch with family, friends, colleagues and accept help from those who care.  For some, group memberships provide support (ie religion). Volunteering or helping others when they need it is also a great way to feel good about yourself.

  • Develop some realistic goals
    And keep moving towards them. Don’t worry that you only take small steps - just know you are aiming in the right direction.

  • Take decisive actions
    Face adversity (or challenge) when you need to; try not to detach or deny its’s existence.  It will not go away, so act. Focus on possibilities, solve a problem rather than become paralysed by fear.

  • Learn more about yourself

    Take every opportunity for reflecting and learning.  People can grow as a result of struggling with loss/change; post traumatic growth is real - "if it doesn't kill you, it makes you stronger."

    Find your own meaning, your own belief, in what happens.  Your ‘personal why’ will help you keep perspective. 

  • Nurture your achievements
    Develop confidence in your ability to solve problems; trust your instincts and try not to make the same mistake again and again. Think about what may have gone wrong and do it differently next time.  Most importantly, don’t quit.  And don’t forget to reward yourself when appropriate.

    If you want to know more about this subject please contact


Please take care of yourselves and each other.

“I am not what happened to me,
I am what I choose to become” Carl Yung

A managers guide to staff support will be circulated soon.


Published 9th April 2020


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