• Being resilient means having the capacity to bounce back from life's challenges

  • Resilience expert and author Karlin Sloan offers five resilience-boosting tips for 2021

  • Having mental strength doesn't mean coping with everything yourself – if you are feeling overwhelmed, find support here

From the Covid-19 pandemic to the wave of economic loss, personal loneliness, isolation, and deep uncertainty about what’s in store, this is a time when even the toughest of us can find ourselves struggling with stress. How do we recover despite the changing world all around us? We need to tap into our innate human capabilities of resilience. 

Resilience is the capacity to bounce back from change and challenge - no matter what the circumstance. It’s our instinctive human hardwiring to stretch, to learn, to grow and to take our circumstances and use them to become better rather than crumble under the weight of stress. Resilience means that we can transcend present circumstances by accepting reality and focusing on a positive future.

Enhancing your resilience is all about your relationships: with yourself (are you confident, optimistic and able to manage your emotions?), with others (do you feel supported and connected?) and with your environment (how do you interpret the events that happen to you and around you?)

So, how do we pump up the power of our self-confidence, awareness, positivity and optimism, to become more resilient? The first 5 steps are:

1. Look after you first

First things first, our own self-care is critical – think of the oxygen mask analogy and remember to put on your own first. This might mean taking time on a daily basis to exercise, meditate, read something uplifting or listen to music that feeds your soul. If you’re not practicing those basics, read no further because you’ve got work to do and you need to start with you.


2. Shift your focus to the good

Make a list of what’s going right. Sometimes during challenging times we can go down a long trail of what’s wrong, placing all of our focus on things that reinforce our fear and uncertainty. There are still good things in this world, even when they have moved into our peripheral vision. What we focus on and what we prioritise broadens and builds…so what will you choose to focus on today?

3. Appreciate the difficult ones

Is there anyone in your life who has challenged you, abused you, angered you, or otherwise vexes you? Take the time to write down what you have learned or developed based on their presence in your life. Give thanks for what you have learned, how you’ve grown, or what you’ve been pushed to do because of them. This exercise can be confronting and difficult, but it helps us to develop a more resilient and growth-focused mindset.

4. Help generously

When you are feeling hopeless, find an opportunity to help someone who needs it. This can be as simple as offering your support to a colleague who’s behind in their work, talking to someone who’s feeling lonely, or you can really take the time to find a way to lend your skills to the world in a new way. Volunteer if you have time. Donate if you have resources. Do what feels good and pat yourself on the back because it’s good to do good!


5. Tell yourself a new story

One of the most important tools in your toolkit is the power of stories to change how you perceive your reality. The more you focus on telling stories of growth, empowerment, and positivity the more access you’ll have to your own resilience.

Think of something that’s been difficult for you lately. Start small, with something in your personal sphere versus the larger world that may feel out of your control. Apply an optimistic style to whatever you’re facing by focusing on what’s happening as a temporary, isolated event that you will transcend.

Once you’ve mastered your ability to reshape your storytelling, your bounce back will increase exponentially.

Karlin Sloan is a global resilience expert, keynote speaker, author and CEO of leadership and development consultancy Sloan Group International

Further reading

How can we move on from the stories we tell ourselves?

3 steps to challenge your limiting self-beliefs

Mental flexibility and resilience to change

8 ways to develop emotional resilience

5 mindfulness tips to boost resilience in teens