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Learn how to cope: 6 factors that promote resilience

August 23, 2022 - 15 min read


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5 key components of resilience

6 contributing factors to resilience

Is resilience a skill or a character trait?

What are the characteristics of a resilient person?

4 examples of resilience

How can positive thinking help foster resilience?

What factors promote resilience at work?

For the future: The role of health in resilience

At some point in your life, you’ve been resilient. Even when you thought the odds were stacked against you and you couldn’t rise again, you did. It took strength and dedication that you might not have realized you had. But you used the factors that promote resilience to your advantage.

The thing is, resilience isn’t something you can pull out of your back pocket whenever you’d like. It takes determination, a growth mindset, and positive thinking to be a resilient person. 

Resilient people aren’t born resilient. However, anyone can develop and strengthen their resilience. Your well-being will improve as a result. With resilience, you will feel more confident and more self-acceptance. Your motivation will thank you.

Let’s break down resilience and the main factors that make it up.


5 key components of resilience

First, we need to explain what resilience is and what it isn’t. Resilience is being able to adapt to difficult life experiences and, ultimately, being successful in overcoming those challenges.

To adapt, we have to be flexible mentally, emotionally, and behaviorally. We need to persevere when we experience failure, change, and even disappointment — we can’t just roll over and admit defeat. 

Don’t think of resilience as something permanent that you can master or have on reserve. Maybe some challenges are easy for you to overcome, while others test your limits. These kinds of obstacles teach you to work smarter

BetterUp has spent a lot of time learning about and researching resilience. We love it so much that we created a six-part series about it.

Through our extensive research, we found five components that impact how we grow personally and how resilience grows. We like to refer to them as ingredients in a recipe for resilience:

  1. Self-efficacy: This is all about how much confidence and control we have over our actions. How much agency do we have over the stressors in our lives, and how motivated are we to manage them?
  2. Optimism: Our attitudes play a significant role in how we build resilience. Thinking about positive outcomes and being hopeful is better than dwelling negatively on all the challenges we face. If we cloud our minds with negativity, we can’t think about how to overcome obstacles.
  3. Self-compassion: Self-compassion builds resilience because it helps us be more kind and understanding toward ourselves. Rather than beat ourselves up for errors, we should acknowledge that everyone makes mistakes. We must remember that we can learn valuable lessons from those mistakes.
  4. Emotional regulation: The self-regulation skills that help us remain calm and collected are pretty handy when we feel overwhelmed by sudden changes or problems. Being able to regulate our emotions gives us a clear mind and helps us with decision-making.
  5. Cognitive agility: Being able to adapt and shift our perspectives is important for every situation. It's an excellent coping skill to have at work or in our personal lives. Sometimes our first plans don’t work out, but that doesn’t mean we should give up and stop trying. That’s where our resilience comes in.

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6 contributing factors to resilience

Now that you know the core aspects of resilience, it’s time to learn about the key factors in resilience. Hint: there are several that you can harness. There isn’t one factor more important than the others — they all deserve our attention.

These factors can promote resilience after trauma and help us through busy days at work. They can also support us when we face challenges in our personal lives.

Here are six resilience factors examples:

  1. Making realistic and attainable action plans
  2. Carrying out plans effectively
  3. Having strong communication skills 
  4. Managing our feelings and prioritizing our well-being
  5. Developing strong self-efficacy, self-worth, and self-confidence 
  6. Problem-solving with a clear, focused mind


You could feel like you’re missing something after reading over these examples. At BetterUp, we can help you narrow down what skills you want to improve and create a plan to achieve your goals.

Is resilience a skill or a character trait?

Unlike other character traits, resilience isn’t something that you either have or don’t have. It’s a skill that you develop through experience — you can’t simply learn it in a course or buy it online. 

Since we face challenges at every age, we can learn resilience in early childhood development. We can also learn it as adolescents, young adults, or in our middle age. With every difficult situation we navigate, our resilience grows. 

In fact, BetterUp research recently found that our members have grown their resilience by 17% throughout the COVID-19 pandemic. This shows that when we’re faced with challenges of any kind, our resilience grows along with us.

The development of resilience isn’t easy. Think about the resilience required to learn how to rock climb. Our bodies get sore from holding up our weight, our hands hurt, and we’re afraid of falling. But as we keep trying, our grip strength improves. 

Once we see the top, our motivation skyrockets and pushes us to continue. In scenarios like this — adjusting to a new role at work, navigating a toxic relationship, or dealing with another tough situation — we become stronger by facing obstacles head-on. The experience itself builds our resilience.

What are the characteristics of a resilient person?

You can’t see if someone is a resilient person from the outside. However, certain signs and behaviors can show that someone is resilient. Take note of how they practice self-care and manage their limits when facing difficult situations. 

What’s their attitude when obstacles get in their way? Are they pessimistic, or do they think about positive outcomes? Do they rely on supportive relationships, or try to do everything alone? 

One study of resilience found that resilient people share numerous characteristics:


4 examples of resilience

Wondering what resilience looks like in action? We can find it just about anywhere, in both individual and collaborative situations. 

Let’s review these four examples of resilience:

  1. After experiencing traumatic events, like natural disasters, child abuse, or domestic violence, people come together to support one another
  2. When dealing with mental health issues like anxiety and depression, we use our emotional resilience to seek help and attempt to be healthier
  3. Gender inequality in the workplace brings people together to support and advocate for others to have equal opportunities and be treated with more respect
  4. Injuries and illnesses test our physical resilience because our bodies need to recover or we need to gain strength back after being injured

How can positive thinking help foster resilience?

As we work toward building resilience, there’s one secret ingredient to keep in mind: positive thinking. Positive thinking helps us foster and build our resilience in ways that negative thoughts could never. It can be challenging to stop overthinking and limit negative automatic thoughts


Developing a positive mental attitude takes focus and concentration. However, it’s an investment into ourselves for the future. We’ll feel more hopeful if we face our difficult situations head-on, rather than putting them off. 

Practicing mindfulness will also help us feel a sense of connectedness with ourselves and the present moment. Being mindful of our emotions and our circumstances will help us take action, instead of staying overwhelmed.

What factors promote resilience at work?

The workplace really tests our resilience. Studies have shown that job stress is one of the most significant sources of stress for Americans. Whether we want to earn a promotion or land a new job, we must use resilience.

We may fail on the first few tries while job hunting or adjusting to a new position. Or we might make a mistake in a role we’ve had for years and struggle to rebound from our own disappointment. 

Luckily, resilience can keep you moving forward. Here are eight resilience practices that impact resilience in the workplace:

1. Our ability to recognize stress

2. Realistic planning for our career paths


3. Strong communication with managers and team members

4. Confidence in our skills and knowing our strengths

5. A company culture that values employee mental health

6. Techniques that help us refocus and center our thoughts

7. A growth mindset, not a fixed mindset

8. Readiness to adapt when plans change

For the future: The role of health in resilience

When it comes to the factors that promote resilience, mental health is key. That said, we need to prioritize our overall wellness if we want to build more resilience.

Your physical health is also an important factor that promotes resilience. According to the American Psychological Association (APA), when you have a lifestyle that involves eating well, getting enough sleep, and exercising, your body will have more energy to manage stress and negative emotions

This leads to more resilience because you’ll be physically and mentally prepared to overcome obstacles. Without a healthy mind and body, we can’t pursue our passions or purpose in life.

An empowered, positive mindset and a body that combats stress will energize you to take on challenges. That means you’ll be more resilient. 

Now that you’ve learned about resilience, it’s time to improve it. If you need help, BetterUp can provide guidance and accountability as you support your health and learn how to strengthen your resilience.

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Published August 23, 2022

Shonna Waters, PhD

Vice President of Alliance Solutions

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