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Key Resilience Skills You Need to Thrive

Updated: Apr 5

Resilience is commonly thought of as a capacity for bouncing back. But it is also something that grows through our experience with adversity allowing us to thrive in often unexpected ways. Drawing on our inner strengths to cope, resilience is also about developing new strengths and abilities that build our capacity to respond effectively and to thrive. Here we provide the key resilience skills that you need to thrive in a crisis.

When we face new challenges it can be easy to feel overwhelmed if we don't have the skills or the time to manage the demands they bring. But if we can draw on skills and strategies that allow us to manage these demands, to problem-solve and adapt to new challenges we can grow our resilience, build confidence and thrive.

Resilience skills for managing in the moment

Our initial reactions to crisis or threat can be overwhelming. They take over our brains and bodies and make it hard for us to think or function as normal. We know from research that resilient people experience the same initial stress reactions as the rest of us, but are able to manage the signs and symptoms of stress effectively to bounce back more quickly.

A useful technique for this is slow rhythmic breathing. This is a skill that takes practice. But once learned, it can be useful in a whole host of situations that might cause us to feel stressed or overwhelmed. You can see Jo demonstrating this technique in this short video.

Mindfulness is another tool we can use to manage in the moment. Practicing mindfulness teaches us to stand back from our thoughts, to observe them and allow them to come and go without getting hooked into overthinking or analysing.

There are a number of mindfulness techniques to try out, but for a quick exercise to regulate stress in the moment, try the mindful stretch or the 3-minute breathing space meditation. Alternatively try an active mindfulness exercise, such as a mindful walk.

Practising mindfulness can also help us over the longer term as we learn to accept and observe difficult thoughts and feelings, to step back and avoid becoming drawn into them.

Building resilience capacity over the longer term

There are a number of key resilience skills that develop our capacity for resilience over the longer term.

Building positive emotions

Noticing and savouring positive emotions is one way of building resilience capital. Positive emotions help to soothe sympathetic nervous system arousal and build a more resilient outlook over the longer term.

Try keeping a notebook of three good things that you notice each day; savouring the moments in your day when you experience positive emotions such as hope, joy or love; engaging in things you find interesting to experience positive emotions such as interest, pride or amusement.

Remember we experience many of our positive emotions in relation to other people. Take time to connect with loved ones, to savour experiences you have shared or anticipate good things. Expressing gratitude or sharing support and kindness have been found to boost positive emotions and resilience both in the moment and over the longer term.

Flexible thinking

Learning to manage negative thinking by finding new more balanced ways of understanding difficult experiences is another really useful strategy.

It is very easy to overestimate threat when the likelihood of a negative outcome may actually be very low. Similarly when we over-focus on the negative we may be more likely to take things personally, put pressure on ourselves, expect ourselves to always be in control or to do things perfectly. But these ways of thinking contribute to further stress. Learning to think flexibly and to explain negative events in more optimistic ways helps us to gain perspective and take appropriate, measured action to manage challenging situations.


Our ability to remain resilient over the longer term is also affected by our self-care. It is really important that we do not lose sight of this.

When we are in a crisis situation, it is easy to go into auto-pilot, making sure everyone else is ok, taking on too much, preventing us from taking time for rest and recovery. If we carry on like this, we become vulnerable to burnout. Over the longer term responding this way undermines our resilience and our ability to thrive.

Paying attention to our own needs and stresses, having empathy for ourselves and letting go of self-judgement is crucial for self-care.

Take a few moments to reflect on how well you prioritise self-care in different dimensions of your life. This might include: workplace or professional self-care, relationship self-care, psychological, physical and emotional self-care or spritual self-care.

Are you allowing yourself time to engage in activities that you love to do, that are emotionally, psychologically or physically nourishing? What is the balance between nourishing and depleting activities? If they are out of balance, what can you do to redress this imbalance?

If you found this helpful and would like to find out more about how to stay calm, manage stress and build your resilience, get in touch for a free consultation. For more tips and ideas follow us on Facebook or check out our online course.

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