Learning How to Be Resilient

by H Stuart, PhD, FRSC, C.M., Queen’s University

Being resilient means being able to cope with life’s setbacks, mentally and emotionally. Resilient people seem to bounce back after a crisis. They protect and promote their mental health and learn how to manage stressors. Some would say it is the “fine art of being able to bungee jump through life”.

Why is this important?

  • Practicing being resilient is an important resource for living a mentally and emotionally healthy life.
  • It reduces stress responses to life events that, over time, can have detrimental effects on physical health.
  • It helps you to support those around you when they experience difficult life events.

How to become resilient:

  • Resilience is not a personality trait that you are born with.  It is not the case that some people have it and some don’t.  Resiliency can be learned.
  • Resilience doesn’t mean that you will never experience difficulty in your life. Building resilience to overcome life’s problems takes time, intention, and planning.
  • Learn to manage stress through diaphragmatic or belly breathing.  This is a slow deep breathing exercise that engages the diaphragm. For example, breathe in over four seconds, hold for four seconds, then breathe out for four seconds. Repeat. Diaphragmatic breathing enhances poise, improves concentration, and controls stress. Many video examples can be found online and there are even smartphone applications that pace your breathing.
  • Set goals.  Identify what is important for you to do now.
  • Visualize your performance.  Identify the specific steps you will take to complete a task.
  • Engage in positive self-talk.  Think what a friend would say or what evidence there is.  Avoid extremes such as “I will never” or I can’t.
  • Concentrate on the task at hand.  Control you attention.
  • Look on the web for free resources to help you become more resilient.


K5Learning.com offers this model outlining the various components of resilience:


Click here to download this tip sheet in PDF format.


https://www.k5learning.com/blog/our-kids-need-resilience-succeed, Accessed October 25, 2021.

https://www.apa.org/topics/resilience, Accessed October 25, 2001.

Road to Mental Readiness, Canadian Forces  https://www.itrauma.org/wp-content/uploads/2017/10/Building-Mental-Resilence-Bailey-Slides.pdf

https://www.k5learning.com/blog/our-kids-need-resilience-succeed, Accessed October 25, 2021.

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