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Monday 20 May 2024

How to build resilience for you and your team

By Jane Galloway

Resilience helps us to cope with stress, setbacks and challenges, and promotes engagement and satisfaction at work. But without it, work pressures can damage our emotional and physical wellbeing. Jane Galloway offers her tips on how to build your own resilience — and that of your team.

Array of eggs between two concrete blocks

Resilience is like a leaky bucket. It’s constantly dripping and being dipped into, so it’s vital to keep refilling it rather than waiting until it’s completely empty. Resilience focuses on proactive strategies that help you to avoid stress or be better equipped to deal with it. It’s not a magical power. No one feels resilient all the time, so don’t be hard on yourself when you don’t. Luckily, most experts agree that resilience can be learned.

Research shows that resilient teams are higher performing, more engaged and collaborative, better prepared and more adaptable, and are more likely to overcome challenges. But with constant change, scrutiny and pressure, working in the NHS can drain resilience. As a leader you can support colleagues to find and grow their own resilience – but you need to look after yours as well. Here are ten ways to refill your bucket and help your team do the same.

1. Find your people

You know who lifts you up and who brings you joy and strength. When your resilience is low, ask for help from people you know will give it unquestioningly, in whatever form you need (an ear, a shoulder, a glass of wine).

2. Find meaning and purpose

A sense of purpose supports self-esteem, wellbeing and mental health, and contributes towards resilience. Creating goals can help you to focus on your ‘true north’. By identifying what’s really important to you, you can acquire a sense of what you need to focus on and avoid sweating the small stuff.

3. What makes you happy?

This one is simple: things that make you happy give you energy and strength, and enhance your resilience. Create a list of every small thing that makes you happy. Highlight a couple to do this week and diarise them.

4. Notice what’s going on for you

Take time to notice and reflect on what you’re feeling. Listen to your body: if it tells you to rest or walk away, pay heed. Be aware of what happens when your resilience is falling so you learn your own early warning system.

5. The magic triangle: be active, eat well and sleep well

Resilience comes from looking after your physical needs as well as your mental wellbeing. Move your body daily, especially when you feel lethargic and least want to! Exercise releases endorphins (the happy chemical). Good food choices give your body the raw materials to generate the energy you need. Wine, chocolate and crisps may fill a gap, but they don’t fulfil your needs. And resilience requires rest: adults need seven to nine hours sleep. Practice good sleep hygiene by avoiding alcohol before bed, creating a calming bedroom and switching off your phone an hour before you go to sleep – try reading or meditating instead.

6. Let it go  

Don’t dwell on the negative and replay mistakes over and over in your head. Grudges weigh you down. You can’t always control what happens to you, but you can control how you respond and whether you let it define you. Can you see the opportunity in a situation? Can you flip a mistake so it becomes a development experience?

7. Take Action

Taking decisive action on problems reminds you that you have agency even when times are difficult. Consider what’s within your control or your sphere of influence. Start there.

8. Lead by example

As a leader, you can model and support resilience at work. When you look after your own wellbeing and talk about the impact it has, you give colleagues permission to do the same. Being open about the challenges you face and how you tackle them will help others to be honest too.

9. Contribute to the positive experience of work

In a pressured workplace, we often focus too much on what’s wrong and who’s at fault. Take time to appreciate your team. Celebrate wins, big and small. Say thank you and recognise contributions. Encourage and value difference in your team. Create a resilient work culture where people feel safe talking about failures and mistakes — and how to learn from them.

10. Build connection

Get to know your team and their drivers. Help them to reach their potential, and work towards goals that feel meaningful and align with their values. A sense of togetherness and belonging fosters resilience and helps people to tackle challenges and overcome adversity. Check in with your team and encourage them to look after their emotional, psychological and physical wellbeing. Research suggests that the biggest drain on resilience at work is managing difficult relationships and workplace politics, s o try to resolve any conflicts quickly and impartially.

  • Jane Galloway is an award-winning coach and founder of Quiet the Hive. For further info, visit: quietthehive.com.

Building your resilience: find out more

Articles & research



  • Dare to Lead: Brave Work. Tough Conversations. Whole Hearts, Brené Brown
  • Wintering: The Power of Rest and Retreat in Difficult Times, Katherine May
  • The Up Side of Down: Bouncing Back in Business & in Life, Megan McArdle.
  • What Doesn’t Kill You: A guide to overcoming adversity and moving forward, Professor Stephen Joseph
  • Option B: Facing Adversity, Building Resilience, and Finding Joy, S Sandberg & A Grant

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