• Dr. Lillian Nejad

Building Resilience

Updated: Nov 18, 2019

“If you want the rainbow, you have to put up with the rain.” Dolly Parton

What is Resilience

Resilience can be defined as the capacity to recover or adapt quickly to difficult & stressful situations; it’s often referred to as the ability to “bounce back” from adversity. Resilience can also be viewed as having a "can-do" optimistic outlook whenever you face a challenge and knowing that you can learn from any experience—whether it’s a failure or success.


Being resilient does not mean pushing away your feelings. Just like courage involves feeling scared, resilience involves experiencing discomfort and being willing to experience distressing emotions and circumstances.


How Do We Develop Resilience

A combination of factors are involved in the development of resilience:

  • Supportive and loving relationships

  • Positive self-concept, self-efficacy, an optimistic outlook

  • Skills: problem-solving, communication, and emotion regulation

So far, research has shown that having close relationships is the primary factor. People who are less resilient may not have had the close relationships that serve to build trust, a positive self-concept and provide models for the effective use of skills when facing life’s challenges.


The good news is that you can build resilience.


Tips on Building Resilience

Resilience is a skill that you can foster within yourself by:

  • Developing and maintaining close relationships and supportive social networks and ask for help when you need it. At work, employees are more resilient when they feel valued and when they care about what they are doing.

  • Cultivating a resilient & optimistic mindset: through mindfulness and positive psychology strategies: accept that change, uncertainty and painful experiences are part of life and know you will find a way to cope no matter what happens; practice gratitude and kindness

  • Analysing the situations in which you were resilient or handled a problem or challenge well

  • Challenging yourself on a regular basis: Notice when you feel anxious that you are going to fail or make a mistake and then practice approaching rather than avoiding the situation. If you don’t fail, you learn to believe in yourself, and if you do fail, you have the opportunity to practice resilience. It’s a win, win!

  • Learning skills: To be resilient, you have to know how to accept and manage distress, solve problems and communicate your needs and wants.

  • Taking care of yourself: Self-care is necessary to a healthy and balanced life, it is not optional. This includes nutrition/physical health, pleasant activities, sleeping well, social connection, taking care of medical needs and taking time out just to do nothing or to enjoy a moment.

  • Being mindful: Mindfulness is about being aware of what is going on within you and around you in a nonjudgmental way so you can make effective choices. This skill is especially important when you are experiencing distress and very challenging circumstances. If you are able to accurately view your internal and external experiences without judging yourself (or others), you are far more likely to proceed effectively e.g. communicate assertively, ask for help, make healthy lifestyle decisions, focus on self-care, approach issues rather than avoid them etc.

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