Building and Training Resilience: 13 Tips and Exercises You Need to Know

Have you ever wondered why some people sail through life’s storms, while others are knocked down?

Resilience is the answer!


Resilience in a sentence – A short Definition

Resilience is our ability to respond well to challenges and setbacks, to persist in the face of failure rather than give up, to cope effectively with stress, and to recover from difficult experiences.

Building resilience is the key to turning everyday challenges into successes.

This article shows you what resilience means and which factors contribute to a resilient personality. Fortunately, resilience can be learned and trained. So let’s start:


Table of contents:


What Does Resilience Mean?


Resilience can be seen as some kind of protective shield for our soul. It is the ability to cope with the demands and challenges of our daily work, duties, and life in general. Being resilient means staying healthy, recovering fast, and making the best out of challenges and setbacks. It is especially important to proactively prepare for future challenges.


We need resilience when we want to achieve something or when we are faced with a crisis. We all face problems, setbacks, or challenges from time to time. These can be internal (e.g. lack of certain skills) or external (e.g. job loss).

Resilient people can adapt to change and are prepared for future challenges. They react flexibly to the requirements of changing situations.


Examples of Resilience


  • Mastering stress and difficult situations
  • Maintaining balance and health during difficult times
  • Dealing successfully with health problems
  • A person who has the amazing feeling of being in control of life
  • Staying calm in the face of challenges and problems
  • Transforming failure into success


We listed the key attributes that it takes to become a resilient person. You may have mastered already a few of them but others might still offer room for improvement. So take a look at all of them and identify which qualities you want to particularly focus on while building and training your resilience.

If you’re a coach we recommend you the resilience assessment tool which is part of the „Building Resilience and Inner Strength Tool Kit“. This tool will help you identify exactly what areas you should focus on while building a client’s resilience.


Building and Training Resilience: 13 Tips and Exercises That Will Help You (And Your Coaching Clients)


1) The Road to Resilience – Living Authentically

One key to becoming more resilient is living authentically. Being authentic means coming from a real place within (our heart). We live authentically when our actions and words are congruent with our values and beliefs. It means living our true selves.

Living an authentic life involves following one’s passion and being connected to our natural abilities, strengths, desires, and talents. It is being ourselves, not an imitation of what we think we should be or have been told we should be. There is no “should” in being authentic.


To live our true selves requires to know who are (our values and strengths). It means we have to analyze our current life. We should identify the areas in which we already live our values, identify where we already leverage our strengths, and which areas offer room for improvement. (The exercise included here will help you and your clients on the way).


2) Exploring and Strengthening Your Sense of Self


Your sense of self refers to your perception of the collection of characteristics that define you.

Your personality traits, abilities, the things you like and dislike, your belief system or moral code, strengths, weaknesses and the things that motivate you – these all contribute to your unique identity as a person. Being aware of these characteristics leads to healthy self-esteem and that increases your resilience.


If it’s easy for you (or your coaching clients) to describe these aspects means you have a quite strong sense of who you are. But even if you find it hard: Don’t worry! Sense of self can be trained. (We included an exercise in the Resilience Building Toolkit).

3) Observe Your Inner Dialogue and Gain More Self-Awareness


After learning more about your sense of self, it’s time to gain more self-awareness. This results in healthy self-esteem, and thus a better resilience whenever you need it.

A great way to increase our self-awareness is to observe our inner dialogue. The inner dialogue is quite simply your thoughts. It is the little voice in your head that comments on your life, whether that is what is going on around you, what you’re doing, or what you are thinking consciously or subconsciously. Ideally, we don’t judge ourselves while analyzing our inner dialogue. We take the perspective of a neutral observer (bird’s eye view). Is our dialogue mostly positive and encouraging or does it tend to be negative?

Observing our inner dialogue is a great self-awareness exercise (The worksheet in this Toolkit will help you and your clients)


4) Becoming More Resilient by Staying Healthy


A healthy lifestyle will help you thrive throughout your life. Making healthy choices isn’t always easy. Finding the time, motivation, and energy to exercise regularly, prepare healthy meals, or getting enough sleep can be a huge challenge. However, your efforts will pay off in many ways. It will not only increase your feeling of well-being but also strengthen your resilience.


Planning a healthy lifestyle is very straightforward, but the key to success is continuing to do it. This is especially challenging when under pressure or stress. (The exercise included here will help you to identify small steps to increase your energy level, living healthier, and as a result, become more resilient.)


5) Creating a Work-Home Transition Routine


Many people struggle to leave work behind when at home and vice versa. They still feel stressed and have a hard time switching off after a workday. This is especially true for people who work from home.

Being able to switch off is important to maintain a good work-life balance and to stay resilient in stressful and challenging times. Creating a work-home transition routine is a great way to draw a line between work and free time. (The “Building Resilience Tool Kit“ contains a worksheet to create your unique routine)


6) Recognising and Managing Your Emotions


Our emotions are powerful. They determine our mood, how we feel, how we interact with other people, and how we perceive the world around us (Perception-filter). They also influence how we deal with challenges and problems.

Managing and controlling your emotions will help you become mentally stronger. Gaining control over them requires self-awareness (see #3) of your current emotional state and the ability to manage it.

Training this skill will help you to master stress and challenges better and will have a positive effect on your well-being and your relationships. Managing your emotions is an important attribute to becoming more resilient. (You’ll find an exercise here)


This might be interesting:


7) How to Cope With Stress And Become More Resilient


Many of us are facing challenges or tasks that can be stressful, overwhelming, and cause strong emotions. Learning to cope with stress healthily will make you a lot more resilient.

Stress can cause the following:


  • Feelings of anxiety, depression, anger, sadness, worry, numbness, or frustration
  • Difficulty concentrating or making decisions
  • Difficulty sleeping, nightmares, and restlessness
  • Physical symptoms, like headaches, body pains, feeling tense, and other problems
  • Worsening of chronic health problems
  • Worsening of mental health conditions


The first step in reducing your stress is to find out how stressed you are right now, by taking a look at your stress-related symptoms and triggers. It is important not only to understand what causes stress for you but also how it is affecting your well-being. A stress journal is a great tool to get insights and emotional distance, which will help you to take another perspective.

Once this is done it’s time to find ways for coping with this stress and to reduce or eliminate it. (Here’s an exercise included that will help you and your coaching clients)


8) Self Efficacy And Why Believing in Yourself Matters


Self-efficacy is the belief in yourself. It’s the level of confidence in your ability to succeed in specific situations or accomplish a task or goal.

Someone with high levels of self-efficacy for a challenge or task will be resilient and persistent in the face of hurdles and setbacks, while someone with low levels of self-efficacy for that challenge may disengage or avoid the situation.

That’s why self-efficacy is an important component if it comes to build resilience. (The “Building Resilience Tool Kit contains a powerful self-efficacy exercise)

9) How to stand up for your own opinion and convictions (even when no one else agrees with you)


Many people find it very hard to stand up for their own opinion, especially when no one else agrees with them. This is particularly tricky with so-called authorities such as parents, teachers, or our boss, but it can also be a challenge when talking to friends.

There are various reasons why we decide not to stand for our position:

We want to avoid arguments or being criticized, we want to be accepted instead. Perhaps we are also afraid of critical questioning that forces us to justify our point of view with numerous arguments. In these cases, it is usually more convenient to remain silent or to agree with the opinion of the majority (peer pressure).

Expressing and standing up for your own opinion, which may differ from the mass opinion, usually requires a healthy portion of self-confidence.


The first step is to become aware of your own opinion. You could ask yourself when confronted with a statement:

  • Do I agree?
  • Do I have doubts or the feeling that there’s something wrong with this?
  • Is there any evidence missing that would convince me? (Ask the other person to prove their point)
  • What’s my point of view on this?
  • What reasons support my opinion?
  • Do I only follow this opinion because everyone else does?


The next and much more difficult step is to express and stand up for your own opinion, even when no one else agrees with you. That’s where many people fail. The reasons have already been mentioned above.

At first, it might seem to be the safe and more convenient way to just stay silent or to agree with others, but this can be dangerous:

Not standing up for your own opinion could lead to an inner conflict that builds up over time and gets bigger and bigger. It does not matter in which area of our lives we remain silent, whether it is at work, in our partnership, or among friends.

We feel more and more dissatisfied and frustrated. The hurdle to stand up for your point of view gets bigger and bigger every time. You become less authentic.


The only way out of this dilemma is to express and defend your own beliefs and opinion more and more often. You can train it with less significant topics (e.g. when discussing what to eat today with your family).

Over time you will gain the confidence to express your opinion on every topic without giving in when no one else agrees with you. This leads to increased self-confidence, appearing stronger, and is an important component in building your resilience.

A simple exercise is to practice in front of a mirror. Express your point of view on certain topics and imagine how you would react to critics. Try to understand which experience and knowledge eventually led to your belief and support your opinion. (The exercise included here will help you and your coaching clients to stand up for your own opinion and beliefs)


10) A Strong Personal Support Network


Social support means having friends and other people, including family, to turn to in times of need or crisis. This support enhances the quality of life and provides a buffer against adverse life events.

Our personal network kicks in where our abilities and know-how end. It’s a system of giving, receiving, and sharing within a community of like-minded people.

This kind of support is exceptionally important for maintaining good physical and mental health. Overall, it appears that positive social support can enhance our resilience to stress.


Having access to such a network is valuable when we’re looking for advice, feedback, or psychological and physical help. Some challenges and problems can be difficult to overcome when alone and unsupported.

It makes you mentally stronger, enhances your confidence, and amplifies your possibilities to overcome challenges, difficult situations, and problems.

Vice versa you can bring in your strengths and qualities where others need them (making them more resilient).
→ The exercise included here will allow you to analyze your support network and find ways to improve it.


11) Achieving a Healthy Work-Life-Balance


Work-life balance is a broad concept including proper prioritizing between “work” (career and ambition) on the one hand and “life” (Health, pleasure, leisure, family, and spiritual development) on the other.

Having a healthy Work-Life-balance contributes to your resilience. A balanced life leads to more energy, physical and psychological health, and for that reason to a better ability to deal with stress, hurdles, and challenges. (Check out this Toolkit to improve your Work-Life-Balance)


12) Finding & Understanding My Purpose in Life


What’s my purpose and destiny in life? Why do I get up in the morning?

Trying to answer life’s biggest question can be a big challenge. However, investing the time to find out your purpose and destiny in life will set you up for success in the long run.


People who have a clear purpose and direction for their lives find it easier to bounce back in challenging times by providing perspective, stability, confidence, and determination. It’s much harder to be defeated when you are passionate, skillful, and purposeful about your life journey.


Understanding this will help you to be more resilient. While some people get knocked down and stay right there, resilient people bounce back from their setbacks with a smile on their faces and are ready to overcome the next challenges. (There’s a worksheet in the “Resilience Building“ Worksheets and Exercises Toolkit that will help you (and your coaching clients) finding & understanding your purpose in life.)


13) Become a Solution Finder And Possibility Thinker


We all face complicated challenges and problems in our lives that can sometimes seem impossible to overcome. Problems that can keep us up at night and leave us feeling exhausted and frustrated.

But there’s no need to despair. Even when you feel like you’ll never come up with the right solution, there are strategies you can use to reposition and refresh your thinking. You can learn to become a possibility thinker and solution finder.

Try to come up with creative solutions to your most difficult challenges and problems. It often just takes a fresh perspective to find a way out of a seemingly helpless situation.


It’s about gaining distance (emotionally) and getting a new perspective to find creative solutions for small and big challenges. This could be using unusual helpers or methods that are not even thought of at first opens up in many cases unusual, but very effective solutions.

It’s about letting go of our belief systems and expanding them creatively. Think about possibilities and options.

This ability will strengthen your resilience and self-efficacy. You will learn to listen to your intuition (inner voice) and also become more optimistic because you know you can always rely on your solution-finding skills. (This exercise in the Resilience Tool-Kit is great training.)


Building and Training Resilience: 13 Ways to Build Resilience


We hope you find these tips helpful and that you will apply some of them in your life. If you want to start building your resilience right now or if you offer resilience coaching you might want to check out this Tool Kit. It provides you with all the resilience worksheets, questionnaires, and exercises you need to build and strengthen your resilience or to guide your clients on the road towards it.