Everyday resilience

Dec 15 / Anél Jacobs
Psychologists define resilience as “The process of adapting well in the face of adversity, trauma, tragedy, threats, or significant sources of stress” (American Psychological Association). It is, therefore, the reservoir of strength that people are able to call on in times of need to carry them through without falling apart.

This definition makes complete sense when we think of events that cause us immense trauma, tragedy and tears. But, in the words of Muhammed Ali, “It isn’t the mountains ahead to climb that wear you out; it’s the little pebble in your shoe.” Often, our ability to get back up is not necessarily impacted by one or two cataclysmic events, but rather by the daily onslaught of pebbles which requires us to tap our resilience-reservoir on a daily basis.

So, how do we keep our resilience-reservoir topped-up?

By using these ten tools to build our capacity to bounce back!

  1. Build your physical wellness daily. Our physiology and psychology are inter-connected, and our resilience is dependent on both. Sleep enough, eat and drink healthily and include physical activity in your daily routine.
  2. Choose conducive contexts. Seek out positive surroundings and limit your exposure to negative ones. This includes the virtual environments we choose to spend time in.
  3. Cultivate a healthy relationship with control. Know what is under your control, and what isn’t. Then act accordingly.
  4. Build your competence and confidence, in order to conquer self-doubt.
  5. Connect with others. Remember: We were never intended to survive all storms on our own.
  6. Calm and compose yourself when you find yourself in the eye of a storm. You can do this with basic techniques such as deep, purposeful breathing, or by removing yourself temporarily from the situation to gain back your calm.
  7. Think courageously. Do not let fear conquer your thoughts – confront and critically assess your fears and “what-ifs”.
  8. Step out of unproductive cycles of rumination – gain clarity and then step into constructive action.
  9. Purpose is a powerful resilience-builder. Find your purpose, and then commit to your contribution to this world.
  10. Practice compassion and care – with others, as well as yourself.


Resilience is not only required when we are confronted with major adverse events, and it does not always manifest in the form of almost-super-human-accomplishments. In fact, for most people, it rarely takes this form. For most people, resilience lies in the daily pebbles we encounter, the daily choices we make and the daily actions we take. Or, in the words of Mary Anne Radmacher, “Courage doesn’t always roar. Sometimes courage is the quiet voice at the end of the day saying, ‘I will try again tomorrow.’”