Top 10 tips for improving your resilience

Top 10 tips for improving your resilience

By Sally Evans

So, is it all about our bounce-back ability? The ability to come back when life throws us a curved ball? Or is resilience something we are born with and we just have to accept if we are a little low in the resilience skill set?

I’ve recently spent time studying resilience and there is now a considerable body of evidence that suggests that resilience isn’t necessarily something that is fixed, that we were born with or is part of our personality; it is in fact, a behavioural state and something that can be changed, improved and developed. Importantly, the latest research has suggested that there are specific ways in which resilience can be enhanced, and if we prepare for when we get one of those curved balls thrown at us, we will be in a much better position to respond, both for ourselves, and for those around us that we care for.

Resilience isn’t just about being tough though. Its about being adaptable and having the confidence to position ourselves ready for the next inevitable life challenge or setback. And the great thing is, we can develop resilience just by making some very simple changes to our thoughts and our behaviour.

So, what do we need to do to build our own personal resilience?

One of the suggestions focusses on creating solid networks of support around us; not just a group of friends we see regularly, but people we feel we can really trust, be honest and congruent with and share life’s challenges with. Creating a solid of network of support may mean asking people to be honest with you too – colluding in your misery isn’t always helpful for building resilience! We all need people who are prepared to say the un-sayable when we are low.

Here are the LifeBuddy top 10 tips for building our resilience: 

1. Find our sense of purpose.

Having a clear sense of purpose helps us to assess setbacks against the bigger picture and consider what’s happening in our life against our longer-term aims rather than the immediate, short-term problems. Spending time thinking about whether we are living authentically is key and it will help to consider ‘who’ and ‘what’ is important to us when we are under pressure.

2. Develop our problem-solving skills.

Take a step back for a moment and think about how you currently approach difficult issues, the extent to which you follow objective logic, and how often emotional responses and irrational thinking cloud your judgement. The way we perceive situations, solve problems and adapt to change is crucial to building our resilience. So, be honest in your self-assessment and ask for help if this seems to be an issue for you.

3. Reflect on previous experiences.

Remember a time that was a memorable and challenging experience (both positive and negative) from your professional and personal life and acknowledge that you successfully came through those periods of difficulty. Those were times you learned and adapted – you can do it again. Have confidence in your skill to move through life’s challenges; you may already be more resilient than you realise!

4. Be curious. 

Learn new skills and see out opportunities to grow and develop, rather than holding on to old behaviour and bad habits, especially when it’s obvious that they do not work for you anymore. If this makes you go cold at the thought, you may need some support for building confidence and overcoming anxiety first. But it will really help to think about what drives your preference towards this old behaviour and whether it is helpful going forward.

5. Embrace change.

Adaptability is essential to resilience. Learning how to be more flexible will better equip you to deal with unexpected challenges in life and work. It really helps to use safe opportunities to actively go out of your comfort zone and increase your openness to new experiences. Resilient people often use an adverse event as an opportunity to branch out in new directions and it really helps if you have already experienced some discomfort in the recent past and come through that experience safely. This may be something as simple as attending a new yoga class where you don’t know anyone or joining a new evening class.  

6. Maintain perspective.

Even if you can’t control the outcome of a decision that’s been taken or control something that has happened to you, you really can still control the way you react internally (what you think and feel) and externally (what you say) with those closest to you. I’ll just repeat this sentence again, as its crucial to building your resilience and to living your best life – you can always control the way you react to situations! Resilient people are often those who can focus their energy on issues that are either directly under their control or that they have some influence over, while letting go of those they have no control over.

7. Mastering stress and having fun.

In situations of increasing pressure, whether at work or at home, it can be really difficult to set aside time to do the things you enjoy. We often focus on dealing with the next challenge, maybe working harder and overlooking other parts of their life that could add something really positive or act as a welcome distraction. You will feel energised if you continue to do the things that make you feel good, even when under pressure. These activities build your reservoir of strength, shoring up your resilience for the tough times. Seek out fun activities now – they’ll add to your resilience toolkit.

8. Manage your health and sleep.

When we feel anxious or stressed, it can be all too easy to neglect our health. This is understandable, which is why it’s crucial we manage our health when things are going well. We need to put credit in the health bank for when times are tough. Losing our appetite (or eating too much), overlooking exercise and insufficient sleep are all common reactions to both everyday pressure and a crisis. Taking care of your physical health now can boost your overall mental wellbeing and build your resilience, ready for the next life challenges.

9. Learn to manage our emotions.

When under pressure, we may often demonstrate poor emotional management, being insensitive and taking our frustrations out on others, particularly those closests to us. Taking time to become aware of our normal emotional responses is crucial. Resilient people often study their reactions and what is and isn’t acceptable. Considering what is an appropriate response, is good mental practice for when stressful times come out of the blue. It helps to try and identify your negative emotional triggers and consider how you will try and ensure they don’t trigger off a poor response, at just the wrong time.

10. Create a great support network.

What does your support network look like and who is in your personal ‘team’? Resilient people often have strong support networks at home and at work. Take the time to check in with colleagues at work and start building informal networks now, so that they are there when needed. At home, reflect on whether those that support you, offer you challenge and honesty – are they good for you and good for your resilience? Do they make you a more or less resilient person? A tough question to ask, but creating a supportive team is crucial to building your resilience, and there is no better time to start than now.

Good luck with building your resilience and why not less us know how you are getting on by commenting on the LifeBuddy Facebook page.

If you would like to understand more about measuring your resilience level and improving your resilience, you may want to take the Resilence@Work Scale questionnaire and receive a coaching and feedback session. Contact for more information.



Sally is the Founder of LifeBuddy. She is an Organisational Development consultant and is a Practitioner with the Association for Business Psychology.