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How to build your resilience in 10 minutes!

How to build your resilience in 10 minutes!

I don’t know one colleague, client or connection that hasn’t reported being stressed at some point in the last year.

I used to be sceptical and dismissive about the notion of a volatile, unpredictable, complex and ambiguous (VUCA) world.  However, events of the past year have taught me two important things:

  1. My resilience doesn’t mean that I won’t feel stressed
  2. Adversity can build my resilience and improve my well-being

While the second point sounds novel and perhaps counter-intuitive, it has some grounding in scientific research.

The science

It may surprise you to know that respectable psychological research supports the idea that those of us who have experienced moderate levels of adversity or even trauma are likely to be more resilient than those who haven’t. Other research has shown that people who have experienced adversity at points in their life not only dealt better with pain, but also reacted with less negative emotion. One reason seems to be that when we experience stress we’re not always operating at our best and our internal resources can feel taxed. However, later we’re able to harness our negative experience to build better resilience. In other words, our negative experience can prepare us to deal with future adversity in a more positive way. This is great news for mental health!

But is this the same for everyone and does our resilience strengthen naturally?

Unfortunately, the answer is “no”.  However, the good news for us, HR and Talent professionals everywhere, is that this can all change by employing one simple tactic – self-reflection.

Applying the science

Rather than just reminiscing about the unfortunate events in your recent past, take a few moments to complete the below exercise:

  1. Think of one to three challenging events from the past 6-12 months that have really tested your resilience;
  2. Note down how you reacted to those events and pay close attention to your feelings;
  3. Assess what you feel you handled well and not so well;
  4. What could you do to handle a similar situation better in the future?
  5. Keep your notes safe so you can refer to them in the future

This exercise may seem simple, but it can be powerful in helping you think about how you regulated your emotions and coping mechanisms in the past to become more resilient in the future. The exercise will help you gain perspective, personal insight from real experiences and meaningful development.

We’d love to hear your feedback on this blog and how you found the exercise, so please do get in touch at

Chadi Moussa

Senior Business Psychologist, Chartered Fellow of the CIPD and Senior Consultant at peoplewise