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How resilient do you think you are?

Updated: Oct 3, 2021

Resilience is the ability to cope when things go wrong. It is when people tap into their strengths and support systems to overcome challenges and work through problems.

If you lack resilience then you are more likely to feel overwhelmed or helpless, and rely on unhealthy coping strategies, such as avoidance, feeling the victim, isolation and possibly self-medicating and addictive behaviour.

The good news is that resilience can be learned. For example, people can build up social support networks and learn to reframe negative thoughts and belief patterns.

Like most people, there have been many times when I have had to dig deep, pick myself up and start all over again. Resilience is a vital ingredient to mental and emotional wellbeing, and we learn and improve on it over our entire lifetime. It takes time, strength, and a willingness to ask for help from people around you – whether it is friends, family or a professional – allowing you to accept what you cannot change and adapt to what you can.

Getting divorced many years ago was one of the times when I was not sure I would cope. The overwhelming sadness and fear could be all encompassing at times. Luckily, I had wonderful parents, my brother and friends to lean on. I look back and think ‘wow it must have been hard for them at times, but they stuck by me’. I now know that I do have the ability to ‘pick myself up, brush myself down, and start all over again’, a saying my Mom used a lot!

Resilience falls into three main categories:

  • Psychological resilience - mentally withstanding or adapting to uncertainty, challenges, and adversary

  • Emotional resilience – coping emotionally with stress and hardships.

  • Physical resilience – our body’s ability to adapt to challenges, maintain stamina and strength, and recover quickly and efficiently.

These are all intertwined. If we feel emotionally overwhelmed our body can feel physically unwell too – we may lack energy, our brain feels ‘foggy’, and so on.

One of the workshops I run is on building Emotional Intelligence and Resilience for individuals and teams. I know that to become an effective leader both attributes are vital elements. Being emotionally resilient provides a buffer against internal and external factors – providing insight, control, agility, and flexibility. This harnesses the ability to focus inward, outwards and on others.

When life throws you a curved ball - keep focused and rekindle the fire inside you... sometimes it is impossibly hard and yet sometimes you can wake up the next day and wonder what all the fuss was about.

Resilience supports:

  • Increases well-being and optimism.

  • Reduces and prevents depression, anxiety, and conduct problems.

  • Results in fewer substance abuse and mental health diagnoses.

  • Improves workplace engagement and productivity.

  • Improves physical health.

  • Resilience empowers people to accept and adapt to situations and move forward.

If you are feeling overwhelmed practice mindful breathing.

Focusing on our breath is the number one and most effective technique for reducing anger and anxiety quickly. There are many techniques however I find this one so simple and it works instantly for me:

  • Breathe in for a count of THREE – full your lungs and take the breath down into your belly.

  • Breathe slowly out to a count of SIX – emptying all the air.

  • Repeat (at least) THREE times and use whenever you feel the need.

Practicing this tool sooths our Parasympathetic system. See below for all the benefits on our body:

The parasympathetic nervous system is responsible for the body's rest and digestion response when the body is relaxed, resting, or feeding. It basically undoes the work of the sympathetic division after a stress situation – decreases respiration and heart rate etc.

For further information, an informal chat, or to find out more about Emotional Intelligence & Resilience Workshops - or requiring individual help, contact Irena on

Irena-Marie Makowska founded Focus Well-being in 2012. She is a Mind Coach & Workshop Designer/Facilitator. She specialises in mental fitness and agility, performance, emotional intelligence, resilience, self-awareness and neuroplasticity.

Using a combination of BrainWorking Recursive Therapy (BWRT): Psychology of Identity and Behaviour; clinical hypnotherapy; visual mental imagery; mindfulness and transformational coaching.

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