Building Your Resiliency Muscle

Building Your Resiliency Muscle

tree growing on rockOur lives are filled with high levels of pressure and complexity. We’re faced with mounting responsibility, competing priorities, and multiple deadlines, from all areas of our life – work, family, and community. Some seem to manage it all with ease, exhibiting confidence and an outward sense of calm, while others appear anxious and visibly frustrated at every turn.

So, why are some people able to handle this level of ‘turbulence’ better than others? I believe it’s resilience – a kind of ingenuity and elasticity ­– where we tap into our strengths and resources and spring back. And it’s not something that comes instinctively or easily, but rather it evolves with mindfulness and practice over time.

I think of organizational leaders I know as well as families, and others in relationships – if you’re not resilient, you will struggle in fast-paced, challenging, and ambiguous situations. If you’re easily stressed and irritated you won’t perform at your best, your health may decline, and your relationships will suffer. You might think of it as personal sustainability training. The better equipped you are at handling these situations and bouncing back, the better you’ll be at sustaining your energy, enthusiasm, and passion over the long-term.

There are many actions you can take to help build resiliency. Consider the following as well as ideas of your own. Get creative and have fun with it!


–       Practice mindfulness in your day-to-day life. The more we practice being in the moment, the better able we are to show up fully for whatever comes our way.

–       Come up with a mantra, a brief slogan or statement of your intentions, so that you can recall it when needed.

–       Keep a collection of inspiring quotes that have meaning for you. Categorize by topic and refer to them based on your situation. Here’s a good one: “The greatest glory in living lies not in never falling, but in rising every time we fall.” – Nelson Mandela.

–       Listen to some of your favorite music to help shift and ignite your energy and mindset.

–       Take several deep, cleansing breaths. Breathing in and out in an intentional, invigorating way can help you center, reset, and recharge.


–       Take action. When you feel overwhelmed, it can help to break a large task or project down into smaller pieces and take a concrete step forward to make progress or improve the situation.

–       Engage your physical strength through things like working out at a gym, going for a walk in nature, or attending a yoga class. Nothing helps me more than a long trail run in the woods – I love the smells, sounds, and physical endurance of running for an hour or more.

–       If you have a meeting at work, ask your colleague(s) to go for a walking meeting. The movement helps open up thoughts and ideas.

–       Pay attention to your nutrition and eating habits. Eat well to “fuel” yourself adequately for optimum performance.

–       Get plenty of rest and down time. Taking a brief “time-out,” such as a long lunch or an afternoon off can offer just the reset we need. One of my favorites is visiting an art gallery in between meetings or after work.


–       Engage in a spiritual and/or religious practice such as meditation or prayer. Taking the time to get quiet and turn your attention inward can reconnect you with what feels sacred and grounding. Sometimes I’ll steal away brief moments for a quick meditation when stuck in traffic, at a stoplight, or while waiting in line. It reframes a frustrating moment into a Zen moment. Try it sometime!

–       Write down the core of your spiritual values and beliefs. Then write a spiritual reminder (a short phrase representing your beliefs, meaning, and purpose of life) that can help you recall your beliefs when facing adversity.

–       Read inspirational materials as a way of taking in quick doses of positivity (check out sites like and I subscribe to a couple of these and enjoy reading them as I start my day.


–       Build a diverse and broad network including personal friends, work colleagues, faith and community connections. Reach out and engage regularly; you’ll be amazed at what transpires from the interaction.

–       Make connections with other individuals and groups, such as participating in a club or small group activity.

–       Boost the resiliency of someone else. Sometimes the best way to reconnect with our own strength is to support someone else with care and encouragement.

–       Think of someone you know who exudes resiliency. It can help to access an example as we attempt to connect with our own inner strength. Personally, I have a couple of women business owners that I get together with frequently and seek their wisdom and insight on all kinds of issues and challenges.

–       Develop your own personal ‘board of directors’ – people that positively influence and support you.


What are some of your ideas and actions for practicing resiliency?


Read other related blog posts:

10 Ways to Build Resilience 


about-leadershipAbout Jeanie Duncan: Jeanie is President of Raven Consulting Group, a business she founded that focuses on organizational change and leadership development in the nonprofit sector. She is a senior consultant for Raffa, a national firm working with nonprofit clients to lead efforts in sustainability and succession planning, executive transition and search. Additionally, Jeanie serves as adjunct faculty for the Center for Creative Leadership, a top-ranked, global provider of executive leadership education.
photo credit: Seaweed Lady {cory} via photopin cc