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  • Writer's pictureAnneka Barrett

How to build your resilience

I’ve been thinking about resilience a lot recently, and I find myself having more and more conversations with people who, like me, are facing new challenges as we navigate these unprecedented times. How can we cultivate our resilience in order to cope with what the world throws at us?

Let’s start with understanding what resilience means. Resilience is your ability to cope and recover from stressful or traumatic situations. It is the opposite of ‘pushing through’ a stressful situation.

The other important piece of information about resilience is that it is a learned behaviour. Which means anyone can develop, cultivate and tweak their resilience throughout their life. We can all find ways to become more resilient.

Resilience is unique to everyone. How resilient you are is often impacted by your past experience, and how you’ve responded to stress and trauma previously. You may have been able to find humour to help yourself, or use positivity or perhaps focus.

What stresses us is unique. You may have found it’s the ‘big things’ in life that lead you to feel stress; moving home and divorces/ break-ups often appear at the top of this list. Or, maybe for you it’s the little things that stress you out; queuing, lack of manners to name a few.

Whatever triggers your stress it’s important to develop an awareness of when your resilience needs to be cultivated, and invest time and energy into doing so. Some of the signs which show that you may need to work on your resilience are:

  • Feelings of ‘overwhelm’

  • Increased feelings of anger and irritation

  • Increasingly dependence on family and friends

  • Isolating yourself from the world

  • Mood swings

  • Risk-taking behaviour

  • Weakened memory

If you start to notice any of these symptoms in yourself I would invite you to get curious about what’s going on for you, and explore ways in which you can build your resilience muscle.

Ways to build resilience.


When you are in a stressed out place it can be a challenge to get out of that ‘fight or flight’ way of being. Making efforts to slow yourself down will help to slow your brain down. Meditation and mindfulness are a great way to slow the brain. There are lots of free apps and classes out there online. Personally I am a fan of the Calm app.

Have Fun

You know the saying ‘Laughter is the best medicine?’, that is in fact true. Studies have shown that laughter is a stress reducer. Book time with friends, watch a comic movie, try a new gym class or even take up a new hobby. Anything that you think will bring fun and joy to your day.

Improve your sleep.

If you have read any of my other blogs you know my feelings on sleep. Sleep is your superpower. Magic happens in your body when you sleep. It’s plugging your phone into charge and getting a software update on a nightly basis. Your brain processes everything that has happened to you that day while your body carries out repairs to your vital organs. Sleep is magic.

You should aim for 8 hours a night, and try to make your space as inviting as possible; dark, clean, 18 degrees celsius and no tech in the bedroom! You can read more about the power of sleep and how to get great sleep in my blog here.


Move your body in a way you enjoy. Exercise releases endorphins into your bloodstream. The primary goal of an endorphin is to relieve stress and reduce feelings of pain. Getting those endorphins going will give you an almost automatic stress reducing effect. If you can get outdoors to exercise even better.

It’s important to remember that when we are in a place of stress, often our mind is so busy it can feel almost impossible to consider adding some of these resilience building techniques into our days. Start small, go for a short walk or commit to a week of mindful practice. Be curious about how these things make you feel and go from there.

Remember whatever you are going through you aren’t alone.

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