How resilient are you?

How resilient are you?

Have you heard of resilience? The term refers to the ability to manage and recover from setbacks, and this ability is not constant, but something that can be practiced and developed. Elsa takes a closer look at what resilience really means.

The word resilience can be explained as "ability, for example of ecosystems, to recover or resist various disturbances" (1). It has been used in a number of different fields and later also entered psychology (2), and is simply about how well – and how quickly – one finds balance when exposed to stressful events or after them, and how well one maintains the ability to function, despite these events (3).

Why is resilience needed?

We all face different challenges in the course of life. Some of them can be heavier and more stressful than others, for example illness, divorce, unemployment or the death of a loved one.

How we deal with such adversity depends on our resilience – our ability to recover. Resilience can be of great benefit, e.g. when you receive a chronic diagnosis. Chronically ill people who have a high resilience cope better than chronically ill people with a lower resilience, according to psychologist and trauma psychotherapist Soili Poijula (3).

Low resilience makes an individual more likely to feel helpless, and to cope with problems using less healthy strategies such as avoidance, isolation and self-medication. (4)

The building blocks of resilience

In people with high resilience, some special characteristics and conditions are often found, according to research (4):

  • social support from family and friends when needed

  • problem solving skills

  • an optimistic approach

  • ability to handle stress and anxiety

  • awareness of one’s strengths and weaknesses, and how to help oneself

Training your resilience

Resilient is not something you either are or are not—the ability to recover from setbacks can be influenced and trained. Soili Poijula advises on five ways to develop your resilience (3):

  • be physically active

  • be social

  • develop a flexible mindset, e.g. do awareness exercises that train you to deal with stress

  • cherish positive feelings

  • enjoy nature

In other words, it is possible to develop one's resilience with fairly small and simple means, such as gardening, meeting other people or enjoying the sunset regularly. Think about what you can do for your resilience!


  1. The Swedish Academy Glossary, SAOL app, version 2.1.2 (204)

  2. (SWE)

  3. (SWE)