Resilience is something we have all been confronted with at some stage during the past 2 years, either in the workplace or on a personal level. It seems to be the new buzzword: Be ‘resilient’, embrace change and move on. But, what does resilience mean? Is it something we can work on and practice, especially as it seems to be the critical skill required by most workplaces. 

So, what is resilience? According to the American Psychological Association: “Resilience is the process and outcome of successfully adapting to difficult or challenging life experiences, especially through mental, emotional, and behavioural flexibility and adjustment to external and internal demands.

“… a process and outcome…” if this is to be accepted, then we can assume that we can build resilience through specific practices. Furthermore, having resilience could improve your overall wellness as it provides you with the skills to adjust to life’s demands. 

In this article, we look at ways to build resilience to assist us in handling change or bouncing back from difficult situations.

Build your self-esteem

Building your self-esteem could be advantageous in many aspects of your life. How? Recognise your strengths, surround yourself with people who appreciate you, be kind to yourself, be assertive and know when to say no. Be the proverbial ‘engine that could’. Tell yourself, “I think I can, I think I can, I think I can…’ until you can. Give yourself the benefit of the doubt and rather think: “What if I can and everything works out?” Ever imagined that?

Develop coping thoughts

Constantly remind yourself that a difficult situation is only temporary. Challenge your negative self-talk, take a deep breath to clear your thoughts, ground yourself and focus on what you can do within the moment. If you cannot find a solution yourself – ASK – no human is an island, reach out and talk.

Practice self-care

Take time for yourself. Take care of your health and overall wellness. Keep in touch with your friends, exercise, laugh, be creative, and have fun. Do something that makes you happy. And most of all, give yourself a break. If you do not do everything perfectly the first time, try again.

Focus on growth

Developing a growth mindset means that you allow yourself to grow rather than cut yourself off from developing. A growth mindset will help you to believe in your ability to grow with effort, it will help you see failures as opportunities to learn. People with a growth mindset will allow feedback from others to recognise improvement. Developing a growth mindset means that you see change as a challenge, an opportunity to improve. It means that you bravely take action towards your goals, no matter how scary it might seem. 

Set goals

If you are confronted with a challenging situation, think about the solution and not the ‘what ifs’. State the problem clearly, and come up with as many solutions for it as you can. Compare the options, list the benefits and disadvantages of each solution and choose the most viable option for you. When you are ready to implement your first option, plan the implementation thereof by setting the goal and planning the actions you need to take to reach that goal. 

Build your support system

Surround yourself with a stable support system that has your well-being at heart. Find people who are trustworthy and can support and validate your feelings. Do not isolate yourself or cut yourself off from your social network. 

Take care of your body

Keep yourself well-nourished, sleep enough, hydrate and exercise. Keep your body strong. Sometimes, this is the only thing you can control in a crisis, then take control of that. 

Practice mindfulness

Start journaling, meditate or pray. Think of the positive aspects of your life and list, continuously in your head, the things that you are grateful for – especially through trying times. Focus on the things that give you hope.

Avoid negative outlets

Don’t be tempted to temporarily ease the pain by using alcohol or other substances. These things do not solve problems. Apply your resource to the things that will keep you focused and practice stress management techniques.

Keep things in perspective

Talk to people and try to identify irrational thinking. Put the challenge into perspective and remind yourself that the change required now might be the basis of the skills you will need in your new (and brighter) future. Try not to think of the worst-case scenario – think of solutions rather than wasting your time on scenarios that might never happen.


Accept that the situation is there to change your current comfort zone. Use the opportunity to learn and stop resisting it. Try to understand what you need to learn from the challenge and focus on that. Use your experience and allow yourself to grow. And if the situation makes you feel completely stuck – ask for help.

We have all experienced difficulties in our lives that we have overcome in one way or another. Practising resilience skills and most importantly, knowing that you are never alone, you just have to have the courage to reach out.

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