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  • Writer's pictureMollie Maxwell

The Resilience Toolkit

What is resilience ? By definition it is the ability to withstand adversity and bounce back from different life events. It doesn't mean a person doesn't experience stress, emotional upheaval and suffering. Resilience involves the ability to work through emotional pain and suffering.

What is adversity ? Events such as personal crises, financial instability, mass shootings, pandemics, natural disasters and other challenging experiences in life.

Resilience Theory

In life we can face many types of adversity. These may be personal crises such as loss of a loved one, illness, bullying, unemployment or the shared reality of tragic events worldwide such as war, mass shootings, terrorist attacks or natural disasters. We have to learn to cope with and work through these challenging life experiences.

How we are affected and how we adapt to these challenges defines our resilience and when faced with such an event our performance may differ according to that challenge.

Resilience theory is studied across different fields of psychiatry and coaching . It tells us that resilience is not constant or a fixed trait, we can grow our resilience and develop our inner strength and resources. This is not a universal formula for becoming resilient and it is a personal skill that can be learned with practice .

What is in the resilience toolkit ?

Our coping skills and the ability to problem solve empower us to work through adversity and overcome hardship as a method of boosting our resilience. According to the NZ Health navigator charitable trust , these are the. top 8 tips for building resilience;

1: Know what you can control and what you can't control. If a situation is out of your hands, let it go and focus on what you actually can do to help in a challenging situation.

2: Make connections : Social support from family, community and friends fosters resilience in times of crisis both in practical and emotional ways and often just having someone trusted that you can talk to is beneficial.

3: Be in the moment. Being in the present moment and using mindfulness supports resilience more than dwelling on past events or worrying about the future, both of which we have little control over.

4: Embrace failure. Accept that we all make mistakes, acknowledge them, learn from them and try to find the positive in those mistakes. It is more empowering to learn the lesson in life and move on, than to feel overwhelmed and question our own judgement.

5: Accept change. The only constant in life is change. Life is fluid and often our plans for life do not go the way we thought they would. Be adaptable and accept that in change we grow.

6: Be grateful. Look at the big picture and focus on what you have, not what you don't have. Don't take anything for granted and be grateful for life's small pleasures. Keeping a gratitude diary and writing down every day something that you are grateful for can help with focusing on the positive.

7: Look after yourself. In times of stress and hardship it is important to care for your own needs. Eating healthy food, getting fresh air, sleeping enough and taking exercise all help to boost our capacity to face adversity.

8: Be optimistic. Have hope and belief that things will get better. Maintain focus and keep a positive outlook during times of challenge. Even just smiling randomly and using positive self-talk can improve feelings and help you to get through setbacks.

Remember to get professional help if you are struggling. Talk to your GP or Healthline 24 hours a day. 0800 611 116

You can read more about resilience at


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