What Is Emotional Resilience? (+6 Proven Ways to Build It)

Emotional Resilience TheoryHow do you collect yourself after a stressful event?

Emotional resilience is when you are able to calm your frantic mind after encountering a negative experience. It is intrinsic motivation, an inner force by which we can hold ourselves through all the downsides of life.

Just like other aspects of our persona, for example Emotional Intelligence and Social intelligence, emotional resilience is a trait that is there since birth and continues to develop throughout life.

In the following section, we will uncover how emotional resilience varies from person to person and what are the ways we can strengthen the power to bounce back from adversities.

“The greatest glory in living lies not in never falling, but in rising every time we fall.”

Nelson Mandela

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What is Emotional Resilience? A Definition

“Resilience is a muscle. Flex it enough and it will take less effort to get over the emotional punches each time.”

Alecia Moore

Emotional resilience is not about winning the battle. It is the strength to power through the storm and still keep the sail steady. Living in the era of technological revolution, every ten years we adapt to changes that never existed in our life before. From rigorous digitalization to the 24/7 social media influence, from the changing professions to adapting with the ways of Gen Y, it is only natural to feel emotionally tied down at times.

The word ‘resilience’ comes from the Latin word ‘resilio’ which means ‘to bounce back’ or retaliate.

Emotional resilience is an art of living that is entwined with self-belief, self-compassion, and enhanced cognition. It is the way through which we empower ourselves to perceive adversities as ‘temporary’ and keep evolving through the pain and sufferings. (Marano, 2003).

In a broad way, emotional resilience means bouncing back from a stressful encounter and not letting it affect our internal motivation. It is not a “bend but don’t break” trait, rather resilience is accepting the fact that ‘I am broken’ and continuing to grow with the broken pieces together.

When we are resilient, we not only adapt ourselves to stress and disappointments, we also grow the insight to avoid actions that might lead us to face such situations. Consider the following example:

Mr. A is a computer engineer, a dependable worker, a loving husband, and a great manager. Mr. A starts his work on time and is focused. He is keen to learn from his mistakes, never procrastinates and therefore, never fails a deadline to get escalated like many of his friends do. He is happy for what he has been able to achieve so far.

Mr. A is emotionally resilient.

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These detailed, science-based exercises will equip you or your clients with tools to process grief and move forward after experiencing loss.

Elements Of Emotional Resilience

Emotional Resilience has three building blocks – these are the pillars on which we can build resilience or work on improving it. Also referred to as the three dimensions of emotional resilience, the three elements include (McCraty & Childre, 2010):

1. The Physical Elements

Involving physical strength, energy, good health, and vitality.

2. The Mental or Psychological Elements

Including aspects like adjustability, attention and focus, self-esteem, self-confidence, emotional awareness and regulation, self-expression, thinking, and reasoning abilities.

3. The Social Elements

Including interpersonal relationships (work, partner, kids, parents, friends, community, etc), group conformity, likeability, communication, and co-operation.

The Elements of Emotional Resilience
The Elements of Emotional Resilience

Emotional Resilience Training Options

Resilience is the capacity to maintain competent functioning in the face of major life “stressors” (Kaplan, Turner, Norman, & Stillson, 1996).

Emotional resilience can be developed with proper knowledge, training, and motivation. Whether you are dealing with workplace hazards, or undergoing a turbulent relationship, or sailing through the downsides of parenting a little rebel at home, with emotional resilience you not only can deal with the situation effectively, you also safeguard yourself from the emotional devastation.

The Wellbeing Project is an online training academy that has dedicated courses for helping trainees develop their emotional resilience. Offering help to a large number of leaders and professionals, they use strategies which are practical, evidence-based, and is designed to help professionals improve their personal resilience, leadership skills, and team resilience.

An important aspect of building emotional resilience is accepting the fact that it is inseparably linked with other walks of life. For example, building resilience at work would also make you resilient in your personal relationships, and vice versa. Whether or not the training is aimed for improvement at a particular field, it is bound to show its effects on other aspects of life as well.

Resilience training program aim at improving emotional resilience by building:

1. Self-Awareness

The ability to tune into our own feelings, internal conflicts, and perception of the world. Through self-awareness, we gain a deeper understanding of how feelings contribute to our actions.

Rather than looking for help outside, or blaming the world for our miseries, self-awareness gives us the courage to look for answers within ourselves. By making us more attuned to our inner world, building self-awareness helps us in becoming more capable and cognizant.

2. Persistence

Resilience training helps a person develop the consistency and commitment to keep trying. Whether dealing with external stressors or handling internal conflicts, perseverance keeps the inner motivation alive.

3. Emotional Control

People with higher levels of emotional and self-control can redirect themselves and manipulate their feelings. They are less likely to be overwhelmed by stress or let it affect their lives. They think before taking the leap and won’t surge fast into drawing conclusions.

4. Flexible Thinking

Alice Boyes (2014), in one of her publications in Psychology Today, mentioned that flexible thinking is an essential aspect of mental health that contributes toward the personal and professional success of any human being.

It is a powerful social skill that incorporates optimism, adjustability, rationality, and positive thinking. A person who has or has developed these skills through training or experience will definitely be more emotionally resilient and well-balanced in life.

5. Interpersonal Relationships

Having good personal relationships is both a by-product and a requisite for emotional resilience. If we have the power to build strong interpersonal bonds at the professional or the personal level, we have already taken one step forward for a resilient life.

Jennie Phillips, Ph.D. in Social Sciences and Education from the Ontario University mentioned in one of her blogs (2014) that building strong interpersonal relationships widens our vision – it changes the way we see the world and ourselves.

We are social creatures, and being surrounded by people gives us the strength to overcome problems, endure them, and evolve from them. For building emotional resilience in a larger context, we must have the capacity to improve our existing interpersonal relationships and be open to building new ones.

The Workplace Mental Health Institute, one of the leading life coaching centers in Australia, developed a training program for facilitating people with emotional resilience at work.

Registered mental health practitioners and course content developers, who are the face of this program believe that emotionally resilient workers have better coping mechanisms. They are more mindful and have higher emotional intelligence.

The training includes:

  1. Basics of mindfulness and positive psychology.
  2. Group dynamics and activities to improve team performance.
  3. Focus on self-confidence and self-esteem that is an essential aspect of becoming more self-resilient.
  4. Workshops and practical training for dealing with difficult situations at work (facing interviews, dealing with difficult clients, etc.).
  5. Deeper aspects of neuropsychology, emotional management, genetic influences, and early childhood experiences – factors that are responsible for making a person resilient or non-resilient.
  6. Self-Assessments and qualitative assignments to keep track of one’s own progress and gauge the resilience that is achieved at the end of the program.

Realizing Resilience Masterclass is presented by our very own Hugo Alberts (Ph.D.) and includes six modules ranging from positive psychology, resilience, attention, thoughts and action through to motivation. A very comprehensive online course, it is ideal for therapists, counselors, teachers, psychologists, mental health practitioners, and even HR managers.

This course will equip you with videos, presentations, manuals and other tools that will help you teach people to bounce back from emotional challenges and is an excellent emotional resilience training option.

Stress Management And Emotional Resilience

Coping with stress, or better to say, effectively coping with stress contributes directly towards building resilience.

The whole idea of being emotionally resilient revolves around how well we are able to handle stress and get back on the track.

Getting tied down with the daily stressors of life can be a big reason that we lose our emotional resilience. We become more sensitive, over-reactive, and emotionally unbalanced. Even a little change of plans can leave us in a state of anxiety and panic.

Studies have indicated that resilient individuals can deal with stress more effectively. They can bounce back from any stressful situation with positive energy and confidence, and they are more likely to learn lessons from traumatic encounters rather than get overwhelmed by them (American Psychological Association, 2012).

The American Psychological Association extended their research in the field of emotional resilience to encompass different age groups and victims of various types of stress.

The Resilience Booster Social Media Campaign revealed intriguing facts on how poverty and unemployment negatively impact on the emotional resilience of both kids and their parents. Through in-depth research backed practical tool-kit for parents, this program aimed at training guardians to support their children to deal with external stress, and develop immunity against them (American Psychological Association, 2015). By far, this has been one of the most successful public interest initiatives taken for building and improving emotional resilience.

Stress And Emotional Resilience Cycle

Cycle of Stress and Emotional Resilience
Stress and Emotional Resilience Cycle


Emotional Resilience: How to Safeguard Your Mental Health (Book)

Dr. Harry Barry, a GP and an expert in Cognitive Behavior Therapy (CBT) published some of his remarkable findings on emotional resilience in the book ‘Emotional Resilience: How To Safeguard Your Mental Health’ (2018).

Originally launched in May 2018, this book is by far one of the richest and most popular texts on emotional resilience. With relatable concepts and practical examples, Dr. Barry, in his book identifies emotional resilience as the ‘building blocks of life’.

He says that the reason why some people are better at managing stress than others is their resilience power. Exposure to toxic stress (aka burnout) evokes intense emotions and our coping mechanisms are immediately deployed to manage the situation (Barry, 2018).

Dr. Barry says resilient people are better and quicker at deploying these coping strategies and hence can adapt to difficulties with better comfort.

Furthermore, he has mentioned that although some people are born with better resilience and emotional balance than others, with the right guidance, we all are capable of building ourselves as emotionally resilient and psychologically mature human beings.

The book is a benchmark in the field of applied psychology and mental health interventions that each one of us can benefit from. Through practical and simple activities that are primarily based on the principles of CBT, the book also serves as a training manual for those who want to build their resilience power.

The foundation of the intervention strategies mentioned in the book circles around three concepts (Barry, 2018):

  1. Cognition – the way we think
  2. Perception – the way we analyze and evaluate things
  3. Action – the way we react to it

The principles mentioned in the book attempts to improve the way one thinks, feels, and behaves, and ultimately aims at helping the reader evolve as an emotionally resilient human being.

Emotional resilience, as Dr. Barry suggests, can be developed by:

  1. Recognizing the fact that our thoughts influence our actions
  2. Acknowledging stress and be willing to effectively cope with it
  3. Being open to changes and flexible while adapting to new situations
  4. Accepting the truth that by changing the way we react to stress, a lot of difference can be made
  5. Embracing the self by building self-compassion and empathy

Dr. Harry Barry’s Main Findings

With more than 35 years of experience as a therapist and psychologist, Dr. Barry presented us with many of his musings on depression, anxiety, and other psychological conditions. However, this book on building emotional resilience, as most agree, is his greatest contribution to the field of mental health so far.

Dr. Barry segmented his book ‘Emotional Resilience: How To Safeguard Your Mental Health’ into three parts. All of his findings are based on three skill sets that he believes is the key to building emotional resilience. These skillsets include (Barry, 2018):

1. Personal Skills

The skills required to manage our personal lives – vitals like self-acceptance, empathy, self-esteem, thinking, reasoning, problem-solving, anxiety and frustration management, beating procrastination, and emotional regulation.

In his extensive career as a therapist, the author has encountered numerous cases of anxiety, depression, low productivity, and stress disorders, and he relates all of these anomalies to the lack of these personal skills. Unconditional self-acceptance, according to Dr. Barry is the key to building emotional resilience and power.

2. Social Skills

Social skills have been defined as the successful interaction with the self and with the environment. It is the ability to begin and sustain long-term interpersonal relationships (Phillips, 1978).

A human is a social creature”.


By means of communication, contact comfort, and co-operation, we coexist with other humans in a close-knit society.

In the segment on social skills, Harry Barry has mentioned that improving the ways in which we interact with others, perceive their problems, and adjust with them, can help in building our emotional resilience and allow us to face the burnouts positively.

His activities on social skills improvements involve (Barry, 2018):

  1. Developing and practicing empathy in everyday life – at work and at home
  2. Reading and understanding social cues – embedded in both verbal and nonverbal communications
  3. Managing social anxiety and performance phobia
  4. Utilizing the power of self-expression

3. Life Skills

Life skills are the smooth blend of all the social, personal, and cognitive skills that we are blessed with. It includes the power to peacefully resolve a conflict, the ability to manage stress and cope with it efficiently, and the power to develop a perfect work-life balance.

By improving the set of skills that fall under this category, Dr. Barry has ensured that one can definitely become more emotionally resilient and well-adjusted. It is a relatively broader area that encompasses a lot of our persona, and Barry, with simple and relatable examples and worksheets, has made it a piece of cake for the readers to apply in their daily lives.

That we are in the middle of an ‘anxiety endemic’ and even the youngsters are not exempted from this, is the main concern around which Dr. Barry has devised the training methods and practical examples in the book.

Dr. Barry’s Suggested Activities

For improving the aforesaid life skills that directly build emotional resilience, he has mentioned activities like (Barry, 2018):

1. Self-acceptance

Practical examples that are easier for the readers to relate with, self-acceptance teach us how to be more compassionate, considerate, and respectful towards ourselves.

2. Beating procrastination

Dr. Barry recognizes procrastination as one of the biggest enemies of emotional resilience.

By simple tips such as letting go of the desire to be perfect, using regular intervals while working for long hours, and breaking down goals into smaller sub-goals, this set of activities is specially designed for the ones struggling with procrastination.

3. Flooding

The manifestation of anxiety, stress, and depression is often physical – with symptoms like unexplained headaches, insomnia, palpitations, etc.

Through ‘Flooding’, which is a CBT technique of facing emotions, we can directly encounter our problems and attempt to change them. There are no limits and no bars in flooding, each and every thought that we perceive as disturbing is invited and dealt with.

The only thing required is unconditional acceptance and the willingness to combat them. By far, this has been one of the most successful CBT strategies to build resilience.

4. Finding the balance

Emotional resilience is a trajectory of healthy functioning after encountering a highly adverse incident. (Bonanno, Westphal, & Mancini, 2011).

It is the fine balance that we can develop between our emotions and the way we let them affect our lives. In the section based on life skills development, Dr. Barry mentioned that once we have acquired the skills to cope with the daily life stressors, we are already more emotionally resilient.

For finding the perfect balance in life, we can:

  1. Keep a daily schedule where we can note down our assignments for the day and act according to the plan
  2. Maintain a priority list and see where our kids, partners, work, parents, personal care, and social life comes in it
  3. Come back and rebuild our priorities as often as we need to
  4. Commit to devote some quality time to the ones high on the priority list
  5. Engage in active communication with our partner once in a while to discuss the roller-coasters of life and confronting problems rather than escaping it.

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How to Build Emotional Resilience: 5 Exercises

“The secret of health for both mind and body is not to mourn for the past, worry about the future, or anticipate troubles, but to live in the present moment wisely and earnestly.”


Building emotional resilience includes:

  1. Building self-acceptance
  2. Improving stress management strategies
  3. Building self-esteem
  4. Being mindful and focused on the present
  5. Expressing emotions wisely
  6. Choosing to react to stress in a way that won’t harm the self or those around

Here are a few exercises that can help you approach emotional resilience in everyday life. Whether or not you are combating and undergoing some toxic stress, these simple day-to-day activities are useful tools for strengthening your resilience.

1. Resilience Through The Power of Positivity

Set aside some minutes to list any 5 thoughts that are currently bothering you. Write them down on a piece of paper, or in your device notebook. Beside the column where you have listed the negative thoughts, try replacing the negative thoughts with positive ones.

For example, “I am having a tough time handling my finances” can be replaced with “Let me get try some financial guidance from friends and family”. Simply by replacing the thoughts on paper, you can see how things can actually be perceived differently.

Some examples of thought replacement are shown in the table below:

Negative Thoughts Alternative Positive Thoughts
1. This shall never pass 1. I have seen worse times passing
2. I am losing my hold on life 2. I can get back the control
3. I can never move on 3. Maybe I should give it some time
4. I won’t be able to adjust here 4. Let me try to be friends with some people here
5. Better to stay quiet lest they judge me 5. It is worth giving a try

2. Resilience Through Gratitude

Gratitude is one of the most powerful emotions that we are capable of developing. When we learn to appreciate what we have, rather than complaining and stressing about what we don’t have or what we lost, we are already more resilient than before.

Gratitude is all about ‘Stop, Look, and Go.’ (Rast). Lack of gratitude stops us from moving forward and brings down our strength to recoil.

We can keep a gratitude journal where we list everything that we are thankful for, even during times of stress. Filling in the columns of the journal will be a gentle reminder to ourselves of all the good things in life. A weekly journal can look something like this:

I am grateful to Day of the week
Things I have that many people don’t
5 Goals that I accomplished this week
5 People who made me happy this week
To my family because
5 Good things that have happened to me this week
Note to Self:

3. Resilience Through Self-Awareness

Basically, self-awareness is about knowing the A-B-C of our mind, where A is the Antecedent or the cause that has led to the current situation, B is the behavior or the way we have chosen to react to it, and C is the consequence that our actions and emotions are likely to bring.

Identifying the A-B-Cs of every stressful encounter makes a person more resilient and gives the power to deal with adversities effectively. A simple daily exercise for practicing this is illustrated below:

Stressors Antecedent (what made this happen) Behavior (How I reacted to it) Consequence (What was the effect of my reaction)
1. 1. 1. 1.
2. 2. 2. 2.
3. 3. 3. 3.
4. 4. 4. 4.
5. 5. 5. 5.

4. Emotional Resilience Self-Assessment

Below are ten statements that define you. Rate each statement from 0 to 5 where ‘0’ means ‘Strongly Disagree’ and ‘5’ means ‘Strongly Agree’.

Statement Rating
0 – Strongly Disagree
5 – Strongly Agree
1. I trust myself 0 1 2 3 4 5
2. I am proud of my achievements 0 1 2 3 4 5
3. I have the power to overcome difficulties 0 1 2 3 4 5
4. I have people who love me 0 1 2 3 4 5
5. I can handle criticisms 0 1 2 3 4 5
6. I am respectful towards myself and others 0 1 2 3 4 5
7. I enjoy being part of a community 0 1 2 3 4 5
8. I am aware of my strengths and my weaknesses 0 1 2 3 4 5
9. I focus on solutions more than problems 0 1 2 3 4 5
10. I love my life 0 1 2 3 4 5
Total Score

Scoring Norm

Score Interpretation
0-15 Low resilience (over-sensitive to stress, poor coping skills. Guidance recommended if the score lies in this range.
16-30 Average resilience (ability to combat stress and bounce back is there, but can still be improved with training and practice)
31-50 High emotional resilience (should be the target for all. Well-balanced emotional reactivity and perception of stress)

5. Simple meditation exercises for managing stress

Courtney Clark, in her famous TED Talk on emotional resilience, mentioned that emotional resilience begins when we are able to use those coping mechanisms which we know exists but have never used before.

Guided meditation and mindfulness practices have been positively connected to emotional resilience. The emotional turmoils that follow a stressful experience can be purposefully resolved through practicing simple meditation every day.

Here is a 12-Minute Meditation Guide For Building Resilience:

Emotional Resilience Theory

Resilience theory has been an intriguing field of research the last few decades. Encompassing a vast arena of empirical evidence that has been provided by psychologists, sociologists, neuroscientists, and social workers, the resilience theory, in short, is the aggregation of the strengths that a person manifests when dealing with uncomfortable stress.

Resilience theory guided individuals and professionals to focus more on the strengths than the anomalies that cause stress (Rak & Patterson, 1996). Arguably, the theory of emotional resilience is still nascent and there is scope for a lot of new ideas to be included in it.

Noteworthy Research Findings On Theory Of Resilience

Rutter’s Theory

Professor Michael Rutter, a child psychiatrist based in London, who has been devotedly researching on resiliency theory since the 1970s stated that (Rutter, 2006):

  • Resiliency is an interactive process that involves exposure to toxic stress that has a relatively positive outcome for the individual facing it.
  • He found that brief exposure to risks such as temporary unemployment, natural disaster, or separation, can act as triggers and influence the resilience power we have.
  • His findings supported the possibility of genetic influence in the amount of resilience that a person is born with. Why some people are more resilient by birth than others, is, according to his findings, due to genetic predispositions.

Garmezy’ Theory

Norman Garmezy, a research pioneer and a clinical psychologist at the University of Minnesota, laid his empirical findings on the theory of emotional resilience in 1991. His assertions were based on the fact that (Garmezy, 1991):

  • Individual differences play a major role in determining the level of emotional resilience one has.
  • Community, family, and the social surroundings of a person influence his temperamental abilities and shape the way he perceives stress and reacts to it.
  • Interventions must encompass all the individual and environmental factors. Addressing any one won’t help in building overall resilience power.

Werner ‘s Theory

Dr. Emmy Werner’s theory on resilience was mainly focused on children, however, her findings are considered as groundbreaking in the fields of advanced social and applied psychology (Werner, 1993; Werner & Smith, 1983).

  • Werner was the first person who identified that resilience differs with age and sex. That boys and girls of different ages have different levels of resilience, was a major focus of her research.
  • She coined that resilience is a variable. It changes over time. With different stress encounters, we are likely to react with different levels of resiliency.

Ungar’s Theory

Dr. Michael Ungar, founder of the International Resilience Research Centre in Canada, and an established family therapist for over 25 years, coined the concept of ‘The Seven Tensions Of Resilience’, which are (Ungar et al., 2007):

  1. Material resources
  2. Relationships
  3. Identity
  4. Autonomy and Control
  5. Social justice
  6. Cultural conformity
  7. Cohesion

Ungar theorized that these 7 tensions or forces that test emotional resilience are present in all cultures, but the way different individuals react to the same experience is influenced by his cultural beliefs and manifestations.

Emotional Resilience in Social Work

Emotional resilience is promoted by factors that lie within us, the factors that lie in the organization that we work in, and the educational factors. When it comes to resilience in a profession, it is usually two-dimensional – the first dimension is the experience of adverse or stressful situations, and the second one is to skillfully cope with them (McCann et al., 2013).

Undoubtedly, social work is a job that requires tremendous emotional intelligence and empathy. Due to the nature of their work, social workers often need to hide or suppress their reactions to dominating authority or the immense workload that they don’t get paid for (Kinman & Grant, 2010).

Doing this for years is undoubtedly stressful and can take a toll on the workers’ resilience and emotional tenacity.

In several studies (Beddoe, Davys, & Adamson, 2013), researchers like Gail Kinman and Louise Grant (2010) devoted much of their time exploring how resiliency plays a key role in social workers who have managed to sustain the profession for years.

Their findings suggest that most successful social workers are able to employ varied coping mechanisms suited to combat emotional labor. Their wellbeing and confidence to serve selflessly are possible only due to the fact that they are emotionally strong enough to let the stress pass away.

With an immense focus to the present, realistic expectations, and dedication toward the larger community, social workers are able to hold on to their emotional resilience in times of trouble (Grant & Kinman, 2014).

Simple Stress-busters For Social Workers

Louis Grant and Craig Thompson, after conducting a survey on how social workers successfully manage their resilience, came up with the following tips for managing stress at work:

  1. Joining and being part of a community
  2. Effective time management
  3. Emotional awareness and empathy
  4. Non-judgmental attitude
  5. Separate spaces for work and family
  6. Regular mindful and meditation practices
  7. Positive and hopeful perspective
  8. Proactive and ready to learn from past mistakes

Emotional Resilience in the Workplace

Promoting emotional resilience for employees can directly impact on their overall productivity and help them maintain a better quality of life.

Studies have shown that a large portion of employees who either get terminated or voluntarily resign from their jobs do so due to personal stressors like terminal illness or the loss of a near one.

Today, several successful initiatives are being taken by organizations to assess the employees’ and leaders’ emotional health and conduct training to build their resilience.

Developing resilience at work may seem difficult when the stress affecting work productivity is actually something unrelated to the work itself (for example – conflict with colleagues, bullying, or personal stress).

While it is undeniable that building resilience is not a quick fix that starts working immediately, here are some ways that might help professionals to achieve resilience in a professional setup.

Building Emotional Resilience At Work

Workplace Resilience Building
Building Emotional Resilience at Work


Developing Emotional Resilience

Developing emotional resilience is a matter of being aware of our inner potentials. The only thing that differentiates an emotionally resilient and an emotionally fragile person is the way the former chooses to ‘respond’.

Emotional resilience doesn’t mean that stress won’t affect us or losses won’t depress us, it only implies that we still have the vision to stand up right back and keep moving ahead.

What Makes A Person Resilient?

An emotionally resilient person:

  1. Is aware of his thoughts, emotions, and inner potentials
  2. Thinks before reacting
  3. Is patient, understanding, and willing to adapt
  4. Is high on acceptance and forgiveness
  5. Focuses on finding solutions
  6. Expresses his emotions in a socially acceptable way
  7. Does not bottle up negative emotions
  8. Is able to create and sustain long-term relationships
  9. Is not ashamed to ask for help when they need it the most
  10. Believes in sorting out conflicts through discussions

Simple Ways To Develop Resilience

  1. Be assertive
    1. Replace negative thoughts with positive ones
    2. Maintain a healthy lifestyle
    3. Communicate often
    4. Accept feedback and criticisms
  2. Relax and breathe
    1. Meditate often
    2. Practice deep breathing when you feel burnt out
    3. Wander in the wilderness once in a while
    4. Appreciate nature
  3. Cultivate hobbies
    1. Explore your passions
    2. Spend time doing what you love to do
    3. Invest in some good reads – self-help books, positive thinking, inspirational stories, etc.
  4. Find balance
    1. Be grateful for the little things that make you smile
    2. Spend some ‘me-time’ at least once a week
    3. Devote time to your family – parents, partner, and kids
    4. Catch up with old friends
    5. Attend social gatherings at work

Worksheets, Tests, Questionnaires (PDF)

To further build upon emotional resilience, below you will find useful tests and scales.

1. Resilience Psychometric Test

An initiative of the Psychometric Project, UK, the Resilience Questionnaire evaluates emotional resilience through 5 key personality traits. You can download the full assessment here.

2. Perceived Stress Scale

The perceived stress scale was developed by Sheldon Cohen and is a powerful tool for evaluating the perception of stress (Cohen, Kamarck, & Mermelstein, 1994). High perception of stress was linked to behaviors like:

  • Addiction to smoking, drinking, and other substances
  • Inability to regulate sugar levels for diabetics
  • Greater sensitivity to stress and emotional reactivity

The full assessment can be downloaded here.

3. Personal Resilience Scale

A simple self-assessment tool for measuring your strength of reconciling and bouncing back after encountering adversities, the Personal Resilience Scale is accurate, practical, and easy to interpret.

4. Resilience Assessment Questionnaire (RAQ)

A 35-item questionnaire that measures emotional resilience. Items are measured on a 5-point scale and the overall scores indicate your ability to cope with stress effectively.

5. Resiliency Quiz

Practical Psychology Press devised the Resiliency Quiz in 2005 and received great popularity after getting the best-selling self-help book. Items in the questionnaire measure (Siebert, 2005):

  • Ability to perceive stress
  • Flexibility
  • Adaptation
  • Self-confidence
  • Empathy
  • Listening skills
  • Coping skills

The full assessment can be downloaded here.

17 Exercises For Grief & Bereavement

Apply these 17 Grief & Bereavement Exercises [PDF] to help others process difficult emotions, leverage self-compassion, and find balance following painful loss.

Created by Experts. 100% Science-based.

Activities and Toolkit

  1. The Resilience Questionnaire Complete Toolkit – Access here.
  2. Resiliency Assessment Tool – Access here.
  3. Emotional Resilience Toolkit – 5 Day Program – Access here.
  4. Udemy self-help course for improving resilience – Access here.

A Take-Home Message

“Darkness must pass
A new day will come
And when the sun shines
It will shine out the clearer.”

J. R. R. Tolkien

Stress and sorrow are unchangeable truths. But the benefit of encountering them is that they give us the opportunity to challenge ourselves and get out of our comfort zone.

Resilience lets positive energy in, which in turn invites positive results. So let’s pledge on self-acceptance, forgiveness, self-expression, and work on building ourselves from the ups and downs of life. As the famous saying goes,

“Tough times don’t last, tough people do.”

We hope you enjoyed reading this article. Don’t forget to download our three Grief Exercises [PDF] for free.


  • American Psychological Association. (2012). Building your resilience. Retrieved from https://www.apa.org/topics/resilience
  • American Psychological Association. (2015). American Psychological Association marks Mental Health Awareness Month with focus on resilience in children, women, LGBT population, older adults [Press release]. Retrieved from https://www.apa.org/news/press/releases/2015/04/mental-health-awareness
  • Barry, H. (2018). Emotional resilience: How to safeguard your mental health. London, UK: Orion Spring.
  • Beddoe, L., Davys, A., & Adamson, C. (2013). Educating resilient practitioners. Social Work Education32(1), 100-117.
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What our readers think

  1. Sandra Chetty

    excellent, i enjoyed this

  2. Sumit Arora

    Good Content

  3. Michiko

    This article was so well done, thank you for sharing. I appreciate all of the effort that went in to preparing and organizing it, for the references, links to tools and such.

  4. Olga

    Than You very much. It is very helpful material.

  5. Anthony Lawson

    Thank you for the thought, time and effort that has gone into the topic which is informative and most helpful.

  6. Janet

    May I know what is the difference between resilience and emotional resilience?

    • Nicole Celestine, Ph.D.

      Hi Janet,

      Broadly speaking, resilience is about one’s ability to “bounce back” from adversity. Adversity can take many different forms. For instance, physical adversity may involve strong physical pain, such as when a person is exercising. Demonstrating resilience in response to that physical pain would be to “keep running” or “not give up” despite the pain.

      Similarly, emotional adversity involves strong negative emotions, such as when prompted by challenging external events (e.g., the death of a loved one, losing one’s job). Demonstrating resilience in response to that emotional pain means that one does not stop taking action, pursuing goals, or otherwise “crumble” despite the negative emotions.

      So, the term resilience is a broad umbrella term that may refer to a person’s responses to different forms of adversity (physical, emotional, etc.), and “emotional resilience” is essentially a person’s reactions to adversity that takes the form of difficult/painful emotions.

      I hope that helps!

      – Nicole | Community Manager

      • Darryl Mills, Addiction Counsellor

        What a great answer!

  7. Shaku S

    What a fantastic article. Thank you for sharing this wisdom.

  8. Chetan Palkar

    It will definitely help a lot

  9. Jeric San Manuel

    Very helpful!

  10. Lima

    Thank you for a great article.


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