Six Ways to Increase Your Resilience

We are told we need to be resilient and that we need to develop our resilience, but how?

Here I cover 6 strategies:

1. Catch your thoughts.

2. Analyse your thoughts.

3. Be mindful.

4. Be grateful.

5. Have a diverse life.

6. Know your values and live in alignment with them.


As a researcher, we can hear a lot about becoming more resilient or trying to build our resilience but what does that mean and how can you do it. Hi, I'm Richard Huysmans, and hopefully I can help you answer the question of what to do next in your career.

Building resilience to me is all about being able to bounce back from adversity. So, for a research perspective that means if you get a grant outcome that isn't great. You can recover from that, that doesn't it affect your life too much. That if you get a negative review on a journal article. That again you can bounce back from that. So, what are the some of the things that we can do as researchers to help us be more resilient. Well, I identified 6 ways this is not unique to me and this is not unique information. But these are 6 strategies that I try to use in my life to be more resilient.

The first thing is to identify the unhelpful thoughts. So, what are the things that, what are the thoughts that you're having that are not helpful? The things that might be saying: "I'm not worthy", "I'm not good enough", "I'm a failure". So, we're trying to capture those thoughts. Just to catch them. That's it. We're not right at this point. Not trying to do anything with them. Just identify them.

Once you've done that, the next thing is to analyze your thinking. What, and why are you thinking this way? Are those thoughts realistic? What is the evidence to support those thoughts? What are the evidence against those thoughts? That can help perhaps build a rational argument why you might change your thinking. As researchers, we're probably more intellectual than we are emotional. This might help you become more resilient.

Another thing you can do is to be mindful. Being mindful might be bringing yourself back into the present moment. A lot of people use breathing techniques. That might be counting in and out for 2 or 3 seconds per breath or you could vary that to make it 4, 5 or 6 seconds.

Another thing that people often do in being mindful is doing what's called progressive muscle relaxation. You might say clench your fist, and then release it. Clench your toes and then release it. Make a you know, a bicep curl sort of muscle arm, and then release it. You can do that across your entire body. You can do things like a body scan. Notice your feet, notice your ankles, notice your knees, etc., as you move throughout your whole body. So that's being mindful.

Another thing you can do is to look on the bright side. This is I think something that I've found difficult over time. But that might be to keep a journal of a list of good things that happened in your day or a list of things that you're happy with that happened in your day or if let's say you've got a journal rejection to try to make one positive come out of that. Whatever it might be. This is not so much about at the moment being happy, but it is about building your ability to identify the good things. Overall, you'll become happier all certainly less sad and therefore more resilient against negative things that might happen in your life.

The 5th thing to do is to have a more balanced life. Some of us can have to get too focused on our research. The idea is to have a social life, a private life, some hobbies, other things that you're interested in and focus on. Don't let research become the only thing that you're interested in, and don't let your friendship groups only be about the research activity that you're part of.

The final thing is to live in alignment with your values. This can be a bit hard. Sometimes we might enter research not wanting to work on animals. We might end up doing that. Sometimes you might enter research hoping to become an academic, and that dream might be slipping away. So, every now and again it's important to check in with your values, and with your goals to make sure that work what you're doing is in alignment with those.

I hope those things help you build your resilience as a researcher.

Look forward to seeing you next time.