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What is personal resilience?

Personal resilience is the ability to cope with stress and adversity, and to bounce back from difficult situations. It is not a fixed trait that some people have and others do not, but rather a dynamic process that can be learned and developed over time. Personal resilience involves a combination of factors, such as:

  • self-awareness: being aware of one’s emotions, thoughts, strengths and weaknesses, and how they affect one’s behaviour and wellbeing.
  • self-regulation: being able to manage one’s emotions, impulses, and reactions in a constructive way, and to adapt to changing circumstances.
  • Optimism: having a positive outlook on life and the future, and seeing challenges as opportunities for growth and learning.
  • self-efficacy: having confidence in one’s abilities and skills, and believing that one can overcome obstacles and achieve one’s goals.
  • Social support: having meaningful relationships with others who provide emotional, practical, and informational support, and who can offer feedback and guidance.
  • Problem-solving: being able to identify and analyse problems, generate and evaluate solutions, and implement them effectively.
  • Coping skills: having a range of strategies to deal with stress and adversity, such as relaxation techniques, humour, hobbies, spirituality, etc.

Personal resilience can help individuals to cope with various challenges in life, such as personal or professional setbacks, health issues, relationship difficulties, trauma, or loss. It can also enhance one’s wellbeing, happiness, satisfaction, and performance. Personal resilience is not about avoiding or denying problems, but rather facing them with courage and creativity. It is also not about being invulnerable or unaffected by stress, but rather being able to recover from it and grow from it.

Developing personal resilience

Personal resilience is the ability to cope with stress and adversity, and to bounce back from challenges and setbacks. It is an essential skill for personal and professional success, as well as for mental and physical wellbeing. Developing personal resilience involves cultivating a positive mindset, a strong sense of purpose, a supportive network of relationships, and effective coping strategies. Here are some tips on how to do so:

Cultivate a positive mindset

A positive mindset is one that focuses on the strengths, opportunities, and solutions rather than the weaknesses, problems, and obstacles. It also involves practising gratitude, optimism, and self-compassion. To cultivate a positive mindset, one can try to reframe negative thoughts into more realistic and helpful ones, express appreciation for what one has and what one has achieved, envision positive outcomes and scenarios, and treat oneself with kindness and respect.

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Develop a strong sense of purpose

A strong sense of purpose is one that gives meaning and direction to one’s life. It helps one to align one’s actions with one’s values and goals, and to overcome challenges and obstacles. To develop a strong sense of purpose, one can try to identify one’s passions, interests, and talents, set SMART (specific, measurable, achievable, relevant, and time-bound) goals and track one’s progress, find ways to contribute to a cause or a community that matters to one, and reflect on one’s purpose regularly.

Build a supportive network of relationships

A supportive network of relationships is one that provides emotional, practical, and informational support to one. It helps one to feel connected, valued, and understood, and to cope with stress and adversity. To build a supportive network of relationships, one can try to communicate openly and honestly with others, express appreciation and gratitude for their support, offer help and support to others when needed, seek feedback and advice from others when faced with challenges or difficulties, and join groups or communities that share one’s interests or values.

Learn effective coping strategies

Effective coping strategies are those that help one to manage stress and emotions in healthy and adaptive ways. They help one to reduce the negative impact of stress on one’s well-being, and to enhance one’s resilience. To learn effective coping strategies, one can try to practice relaxation techniques such as deep breathing, meditation, or yoga, engage in physical activities that boost one’s mood and energy levels such as walking, jogging, or dancing, use humour and laughter to lighten up the mood and reduce tension such as watching a funny video or telling a joke, seek professional help or counselling when needed such as talking to a therapist or a coach.

Further reading

Here are some links to help you explore resilience further

Resilience Examples: What Key Skills Make You Resilient?Positive Psychology


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Improving mental well-being and resilience – BBC

Managing stress and building resilience – Mind

The Secret to Building Resilience – Harvard Business Review

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