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Building resilience and self-management

Let’s talk about all things resilience and self-management, two terms and concepts that have blown up in recent years.

Resilience training and self-management techniques can drastically improve your personal life and work life, so let’s take a look at what they are, how they work, and how to improve and use them.

What’s the difference between resilience and self-management?

Resilience simply means your ability to cope with, and recover from, any setbacks you face.

For example, you could say someone is resilient if they have a nasty crash on their bicycle, but, once recovered, they get back in the saddle.

Alternatively, you could say someone is resilient if they get promoted to a new position at work, they struggle to adapt to their new responsibilities, but they work through them.

Self-management, on the other hand, refers to how we manage our behaviours, thoughts and emotions in a productive way.

If someone has good self-management skills, it means they know what to do, or how to act, in different situations that may arise.

Let’s say you want to buy a new car, self-management would be planning that goal, and all the steps that come with it. For example, cutting back on eating out or saving a specific amount of money each month.

How resilience and self-management are interlinked

Though resilience and self-management may seem fairly different on their own, if we take a closer look, they’re very much interlinked, with one helping the other.

Let’s use another example, and something that a lot of people have experienced recently. You lose your job because of something out of your control – say, the COVID-19 pandemic.

Despite being worried, you don’t panic. You make a spending plan that gives you an insight into how much you can afford to spend each week.

On top of this, you sign up with a jobs agency immediately, making sure your CV is up to date and you’re applying for as many jobs as possible.

This ability not to panic or become overwhelmed is resilience, but it’s underpinned by effective self-management. Knowing how to self-manage can make you more assured when difficult – and often inevitable – situations crop up. A resilient person can manage a crisis in one part of their life by limiting its impact on other parts of themselves.

Resilience training 101: how to build resilience

Building your resilience isn’t as difficult as it may seem, and it can be learned with emotional resilience training. In fact, most people already have some form of resilience, even if you’ve ever faced any kind of hardship.

Mayo Clinic has put together a handy list of some of the key ways to improve your resilience, some of which we’ll explore here.

Many of these methods straddle the space of self-management which, as mentioned earlier, underpins your ability to be resilient in the face of adversity.

Be proactive

Ignoring your problems is one of the worst things you can do. Wherever possible, you should face your problems head on and work through them.

Everyone faces setbacks, and it’s important to remember that everyone deals with them in their own way, but it’s vital to take action as soon as you can.

Some common steps include making a plan or talking to someone – like an allied health professional or a friend. Keep in mind that your situation can improve if you work at it.

Build your support network

Facing problems on your own can be hard, no matter how resilient you are. That’s why it’s important to build your support network.

It’s important to make sure you’re constantly building or maintaining positive, strong and meaningful relationships with your family and friends.

Having a strong support network around you can work wonders for your resilience, especially knowing the people close to you have your back.

Look after yourself

Making sure you’re looking after yourself – both physically and mentally – can work wonders when it comes to building your resilience.

Including plenty of physical activity into your daily routine, making sure you’re eating a healthy diet and getting enough sleep is a great start.

On the mental health side of things, practicing stress-management techniques such as yoga and Pilates can help keep your mind clear and centred.

Remain positive

This can be easier said than done, but trying to remain positive can work wonders for your resilience in both the short term and the long term.

Taking the positives out of a bad situation can help you be productive in the moment and stop you dwelling on things you cannot change.

Meanwhile, in the long term, you’ll be able to look back at the challenges you’ve faced, remember the positive mindset you had and how everything turned out fine – backing up your faith in staying positive.

How to be better at self-management

We’ve now covered the basics of resilience training as well as the basic tools to improve our resilience, but what about self-management? What strategies can we try to be better at self-management?

Glassdoor can help here. The organisation has put together a handy list of ways to help you self-manage, from setting goals to being prepared.

Set goals

Setting goals is one of the best self-management strategies you can try. Setting goals helps you track your progress (more on this later) whilst giving you a goal to work towards.

Knowing what goal you want to reach at what point can give you an element of control should something expected crop up.

Trying the SMART goal method which emphasises that your goals should be specific, measurable, achievable, relevant and time-bound.

Evaluate your progress

As important as it is to set goals, it’s equally important to evaluate your progress. Make sure you factor in checkpoints to see how your goals are coming along.

This self-management technique will build your resilience by managing your expectations and keeping you in touch with your goals.

For example, let’s say you want to buy a new TV. You give yourself 30 days to save up for one. Unfortunately, after 15 days, your car gets a flat tire and you have to replace it.

Without evaluating where you are financially, the end of the month comes and you feel frustrated and disappointed that you don’t have the funds.

Meanwhile, if you would’ve checked your progress throughout your journey, you could’ve evaluated your finances and taken action, like extending your goal by a further two weeks.

Plan things

You’ve likely heard the famous, old quote by Benjamin Franklin: “By failing to prepare, you are preparing to fail.” Turns out there’s a lot of truth in it.

Keeping a calendar or a diary can help you plan things in both your work and personal life, from noting when bills are due to what date you need a big presentation ready by.

At the end of each day, you can set some time to assess what tasks still need actioning, such as remembering to pay your phone bill or arranging a meeting with a client.

Even simple things, like planning to go to sleep by 10pm, can be an effective self-management tool for any stressful days ahead.

Assess things early on

This might sound obvious, or even the same as planning things, but there’s a bit more to it. Planning things is quite broad and can be more of a tick box.

Before you start planning things, it can be good to thoroughly assess things early on. For example, let’s say you’re signing up to a new mobile phone contract.

Before you start planning what date the payments come out, you should be asking yourself can you actually afford it over a two-year period.

This applies in the workplace, too. If you’re given a new project at work, ask your boss any of the questions you have to make sure you’re fully aware of what’s ahead and what you need to do.

Need to talk to someone?

If you want talk to one of the Access Psych team, take a look at our registered and provisional psychologists near you. In addition to providing mental health support, we also provide resilience training Australia wide, with resilience workshops (both face-to-face and remote) tailored to your organisation and its needs.

Alternatively, if you have any questions about Access Psych and what else we can do for you, visit our Frequently Asked Questions page.

When you’re ready, you can book a psychology appointment online, speak to one of our friendly team on 1800 277 924 or email info@accesspsych.com.au to ask about our resilience training services.


The information provided in this document is general in nature and is intended to be used for information purposes only. While we have tried to ensure the accuracy of the information published, no guarantee can be given that the information is free from error or omission or that it is accurate, current or complete.

The information published is not, and should not be relied on as, health or treatment advice. The diagnosis and treatment of any mental illness requires the attention of a physician or other properly qualified mental health professional. If you are seeking diagnosis or treatment of any other mental illness, you should consult a physician or mental health professional.  You should not delay in seeking, or disregard, professional health advice because of something you have read in this document.