How to build resilience when you are feeling tapped out

By Kate Lee

Tired? Stressed? Here’s how to build your personal resilience so you can help cultivate your team’s resilience.

Psychology Today describes resilience as “that ineffable quality that allows some people to be knocked down by life and come back stronger than ever. Rather than letting failure overcome them and drain their resolve, they find a way to rise from the ashes.”

In short, resilience is the ability to bounce back – to adapt well in the face of adversity, trauma, tragedy, threats, or significant sources of stress. Therefore, building resilience is learning from and developing capabilities to recover from setbacks, challenges, and failures.

It is important to recognize that when one is resilient, it does not mean that one will not experience distress or pain. It is also important to recognize that resilience is not the same as being invincible. 

Also critical is understanding from where we draw our resilience. 

As Dr. Merete Wedell-Wedellsborg describes in her recent article, How to Lead When Your Team Is Exhausted — and You AreToo, from where we draw our resilience is different today than from where we drew resilience earlier in the pandemic:

“Compared to the adrenaline-fueled response to in the spring and the false dawn about the recovery over the summer, the second wave requires a new understanding of personal resilience. In the first wave, personal resilience relied on a psychological emergency response called arousal. Shocks, threats, and sudden uncertainty make us super alert and we activate resources that are skin-deep: Adrenaline, fighting spirit, and pulling together…Personal resilience in the second wave is a different story because it relies on psychological stamina. Psychological stamina rests on more deep-seated emotional patterns shaped by our individual needs, histories, and experiences.”

Dr. Wedell-Wedellsborg explains that this shift is why the determination, energy, and feeling of “we’re all in this together” that we experienced at the start of the pandemic has been replaced with increased stress incidents, the polarization of emotional reactions, and more team defections. 

Taking this into account, how can you build your resilience and help build your team’s resilience?

Look to the future

Engage your team. Ask questions. Focus on identifying and aligning around a vision for the future. By focusing on the future – and working together towards the future – you and your team will cultivate resiliency and build organizational strength.

Find the silver lining

Unfrozen by the constraints of routine, habits, and norms, now is the opportunity to redefine, redesign, strengthen, and transform the organization. Identify opportunities. Tap into ideas. Place focus on the positive. Engage and energize your team.

Focus on growth and learning

Earlier this week, a client shared that she was feeling demoralized. Together we reflected on past challenges, actions she had previously taken to move forward, and on incredible learnings and growth that had come out of those experiences. By the end of the conversation, what had looked like an obstacle now looked like an opportunity. 

Create certainty

Neuroscience research has shown that we crave and need certainty. While there may be uncertainty in our current environment, focus on what you know, identify what you don’t know, and map out a strategy to close the gap. This will help improve performance, morale, engagement, and help build resilience. 

Take care of yourself

Research shows when we invest in self-care, we can avoid burnout, amp up energy and engagement at work, minimize errors, and increase creativity. To build resilience, invest in your self-care, and encourage your team to do the same.

By cultivating your resilience and building your team’s resilience, you will emerge from the pandemic stronger and more resilient than before.


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