How to be resilient at work.

Being resilient is a skill I’ve been working on over the last few years. It’s not been an easy thing to develop, and there are…


how to be resilient at work

Being resilient is a skill I’ve been working on over the last few years. It’s not been an easy thing to develop, and there are definitely situations I’ve been in where I’ve not demonstrated resilient behavior!

So what is the definition of resilient?


(of a substance or object) able to recoil or spring back into shape after bending, stretching, or being compressed.
“a shoe with resilient cushioning”
synonyms: flexible, pliable, pliant, supple, plastic, elastic, springy, rubbery;
(of a person or animal) able to withstand or recover quickly from difficult conditions.
“babies are generally far more resilient than new parents realise”
synonyms: strong, tough, hardy;

To put this into simple terms: being resilient means being able to cope with the everyday stresses of life. In the workplace, this could me being able to cope with an unexpected change or high workload. A colleague calling in sick, a system error, a last minute project.

It’s an ongoing journey, learning resilience, and it’s not exactly a straight road. There will be times when you feel chaos on the inside, but it’s how you portray your feelings to everyone else that’s important.

It’s being able to be stretched, but then bounce back quickly.

Here are a few tips on how to be resilient.

being resilient at work

Stop and think.

If you’ve just found something out that would normally turn you into a negative, anxious mess, then take 5 minutes out to consider the facts.

I tend to go through the following thought process when something unexpected happens:

  • This is beyond my control – I cannot change it.
  • Complaining about it won’t help.
  • What do I need to do next?
  • How can I do this?
  • Who do I need to ask for help?
  • What will be the end result?

Taking time to think through things logically helps things to feel more achievable.

Stop blaming others. 

The reason for this unexpected situation you might be in could be the fault of someone else, but focusing on that too much isn’t going to help.

All you do is end up feeling angry towards that person, or people, then you’re not going to be delivering your best due to clouded judgment and being in the wrong mindset.

Try to put it to the back of your mind for now and focus on solving the problem.

Consider your options.

They’ll be times when you can quickly solve the problem, but there might be times when you can’t.

Remember you are only human and can’t do everything. You might have to re-arrange your work day and prioritise or delegate some tasks to somebody else.

Think about all possible solutions and which ones are the most achievable.

Think of the bigger picture. 

Something I’m often bad at is jumping straight in with blinkers on. My old style of dealing with an unexpected change or high workload would be to dive in and get as much done as quickly as possible. Often I’d only half finish jobs, or try and do too many things at once!

This is very similar to the step above – try to stop, think and break down what you need to do. Otherwise, you’re going to find yourself rushing, overworked and skipping lunch breaks.

Feed and water yourself. 

Working through lunch might be something you have to do from time to time, but it’s also important to take breaks and fuel yourself.

If I know I’m going to be busy at work, I’ll have a bigger breakfast and at lunch time, I’ll just have a 10-minute drink instead of an hour lunch and maybe some fruit if I’m hungry.

Otherwise, I find myself getting worked up and frustrated. These are all things that trigger my vertigo, too. So it’s important to look after your health in times of stress.

Also, almost every time I’ve been ill and had to take time off work, it’s been during a time when my stress levels at work are really high. This could be because stress can affect your immune system, making you more susceptible to getting sick. So take your breaks and time for you.

Don’t be afraid to ask for help.

This is a lesson that was hard for me at first. Asking for help was something I saw as weak. I would always help others but never ask for anything in return.

When you form relationships with others at work, you should be able to ask them for help when you need it, just like you’ll help them when they need help.

It’s also a great idea to talk to those with more experience, or those in a higher position than you about the problems you’re facing. In the end, you might not need them to do anything other than listen to you process your options and figure out what you need to do next.

It’s sometimes all you need – to sound your ideas out loud and bounce them off someone else.

In most circumstances, following these steps are something I do to overcome unexpected pressure my job gives me. There are times when my work load is too large and I have to ask for extended deadlines or someone else to step in – but that’s okay. As long as you know you’ve done everything within your grasp and have explored all options – those around you will see that. I like to think the people I work with and my managers have trust in my and my judgments and realise I’m not being lazy, but I’m just a human with a lot to do.

How do you manage work pressure?

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  1. I always try to think will this bother me next week, month, year. If the answer is no then it’s not a big deal and I try hard to let it go. There are situations though that despite not being able to change the outcome they piss you off and are unjust. These are the worst situations for me as I’m stubborn and find it hard to let them go Lucy x

  2. I couldn’t agree more with asking for help and it’s a lesson that I learned through the hard way. I can be a fucking mule sometimes, too stubborn for my own good and frankly, it’s just my ego in the way most times and I get so burnt out. There’s nothing wrong with asking for help, we all need it every now and then. xx

  3. Thinking of the bigger picture is a great tip – its gotten me through so many awful jobs! And its just good for general life stress really. Chances are whatever is bothering you wont matter tomorrow, net week, net month, etc! 🙂

    Fab post, and one I wish I’d had when I first started working haha x

  4. Thank you for this great advice! Resiliency is something I’m struggling with at work, too, and this was a great “pep talk” for starting my day. Definitely bookmarking this one!

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