Throughout life, you'll face challenges in your personal and your professional world. Some challenges can lead to positive outcomes, like a promotion; others can be more difficult to overcome like exam failure.

Resilience is an important life skill, which can help you to handle adversity and thrive both in and outside of the workplace.

Increasing your resilience and learning to manage obstacles effectively won't just help you recover from a setback; it will also help you navigate it in the first place. It may be that you’re naturally resilient and that change doesn’t really affect you. On the other hand, if an unexpected difficulty arises, it could completely throw you off track. If that’s the case, then building resilience and managing your response to change could be the answer.

Resilience is defined as the capacity to withstand stress and an ability to cope with problems and setbacks. This means being able to learn from experience and come back stronger. Rather than letting negative problems get in their way, resilient people use their resolve to create a positive outcome. Psychologists have identified some of the factors that make a more a person more resilient including: a positive attitude, the ability to regulate emotions, and the ability to see failure as a form of helpful feedback.

How to become more resilient

To build your resilience you need to address all elements of your wellbeing, both physical and mental. 

Mindset is key

The worst way to manage change is to avoid it and bury your head in the sand. Recognise that you have a choice – you have the ability to choose how you react, in a positive or negative way, and whether you accept this situation. Making no choice is a choice in itself, allowing other people or events to decide for you.

Be robust

A key characteristic of resilience is an understanding that change and setbacks are a part of life. Resilient people view difficulty as a challenge, they look at their failures and mistakes as lessons to be learned from and as opportunities for growth. While we cannot avoid these, we can remain open, flexible and willing to adapt to change. Self-esteem plays an important role in recovering from difficult events. Remind yourself of your strengths and be confident in your ability to respond and deal with change and setbacks you’ll encounter. 

Physical activity

Evidence shows that physical activity has a massive benefit on mental health. Making time for physical activity 2 or 3 times per week will help you feel healthier and happier in yourself, and give you the energy to tackle issues head on. This is key when you’re learning, as you’re simultaneously required to manage your stress levels and the expectations of others while soaking up new and important information. If you’re feeling stressed when you’re studying and think nothing is going in, try 30 minutes of physical activity and then come back to your studies afterwards. You may find this break improves your concentration, productivity and makes you feel calmer when you come back to your books again. 


Another aspect you can focus on when building resilience is your sleep pattern. Feeling well-rested improves energy levels, concentration and mood. If sleep is something you struggle with and don’t think you can do without, try creating an evening routine. Cut out screen time an hour before bed, try to avoid heavy meals within 3 hours of going to sleep, reduce your alcohol intake and reduce caffeine consumption after 3pm.

You are what you eat

You can easily adapt your diet to increase your resilience. Research has uncovered which foods can improve emotional wellbeing. It has proven that some foods can reduce symptoms of depression, anxiety and stress. For example, low levels of zinc are associated with anxiety and eating more cashew nuts can address this, while magnesium, found in sweet potatoes, can help you relax. Make sure you get a minimum of your 5-a-day, reduce your caffeine intake and cut down on alcohol to help improve your wellbeing.

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