Tips for building your resilience skills

Student using their laptop in STC

Life can be fast-paced and overwhelming at times. With applications, deadlines, home obligations, and the need to take care of yourself both socially and physically, experiencing a setback can seem world-ending. So how can you change your perspective and view setbacks and left turns in life as not so monumental? One way is to build your resilience skills.

According to Yezen Nwiran at “A resilient person works through challenges by using personal resources, strengths and other positive capacities of psychological capital such as hope, optimism, and self-efficacy.” To build your resilience skills take a look at the following areas: past-experience, support structures, intentional planned self-care, understanding your strengths, mindsets, and your mindfulness practices.

  1. Examine your past experiences. Everyone has been through a tough time in their life. Think about your tough times, not to ruminate on them or draw patterns to your current experience, but specifically look at the end of your experience. How did you pull yourself out? What did you do to cope with that experience? What lessons did you learn about how to get through things as a result of it?
  2. Think about your mindset. Related to your past experiences, think about how you view your life experiences. Do you view your life as a series of obstacles you have to somehow get by? Or a series of challenges you can problem-solve your way through? Yezen Nwiran says that most people view challenges, “As something that prevents them from moving forward. Something that has happened to them rather than for them.” Viewing your life as full of obstacles can be very draining, however, if you view your life as a set of challenges you can use your skills to overcome it can help energize you to tackle what’s next with a clear head.
  3. Consider your strengths. We’ve talked before about the benefits of using your strengths to help you navigate through challenging times. Strengths are character traits you are particularly competent in. If you are unsure of your strengths you can do an online test like the one at the Via Institute on Character to figure out what your strengths are. Once you know your own strengths you can lean on them when times get tough, employing strategies you know will be successful.
  4. Reach out to your supports. In her TedTalk, Clinical Psychologist Meg Jay notes “One of the biggest predictors of faring well after an adversity is having people who cared. One thing that resilient people do is they seek support.” Your circle of support can include one or many people, including family members (this doesn’t have to be your parent – it could be a cousin, aunt or uncle, grandparent, etc.), friends, your partner, a mentor (including but not limited to peer mentors, work mentors, religious mentors, etc.), or a professional therapist.
  5. Take intentional and planned self-care breaks. Self-care isn’t something you should turn to only when things go awry. You should plan to take time for yourself regularly to lower your stress levels and avoid periods of burnout. Not sure how to take care of yourself? Take a look at our Big List of Self-Care Activities (PDF) for some ideas on ways to incorporate self-care into your everyday life. Consider also, spending a little bit of time in nature or outdoors every day to refresh your mind and increase your physical health. And lastly, consider setting limits or taking a break from social media from time-to-time to help you gain perspective on what is really important in your life.
  6. Practice mindfulness. While the idea of sitting in a quiet room to meditate might seem daunting, there are lots of apps out there that can help you focus. Many apps can give you specific guided meditations that can address situations you might be in. Having trouble practising self-compassion? You can find a mediation for that in the Stop, Breathe, and Think app. Having trouble sleeping at night? The Calm app has sleep stories to help you gently drift off.

You won’t become a master of resilience overnight, so go easy on yourself and make changes in increments over time. Make sure to celebrate your progress as you go to keep yourself energized and motivated.



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