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Meaningful ways to increase your productivity, performance and well-being backed up by scientific research.

Resilience: Let’s Bounce Forward in 2021!

I have been facilitating a lot of sessions recently that focus on overcoming burnout and managing stress. 2020 has been quite a year – between the COVID pandemic, social unrest, the election and environmental disasters – we’ve been through a lot!  We all seem to be hanging on by a thread and there’s good reason why organizations want to help their employees with burnout and stress. We are feeling it!

These feelings of stress and burnout are incredibly important to address because they impact all aspects of our lives. When we experience an event that is stressful (something like discovering a critical error that needs to be fixed or having our work and social lives upended by COVID) our brains trigger a stress response. The response begins in our prefrontal cortex and triggers the release of hormones (Tabibnia & Radecki, 2018). Some of the hormones are fast-acting and others are slow, but all of them are designed to get our bodies ready to act and respond to the stress. This is a great system, particularly as early humans evolved and needed to quickly respond to stresses in their environment (like a hungry, snarling tiger). Yet when the stressful event does not require us to run, climb or hide – but instead work at our computers or avoid a virus – this stress response is much less helpful! Over time, this stress response can cause physical illnesses, such as headaches, back pain and digestive issues (Stahl, Dossett, LaJoie, Denninger, Mehta, Goldman, Fricchione & Benson, 2015).  This is why it’s so important for organizations to support their employees in responding to stress effectively. We need to think clearly and be healthy to truly engage in our work.

At the core of the sessions I facilitate on burnout and stress, is resilience. Resilience is the process of bouncing back, it is responding to adversity by adapting and finding new ways to continue moving forward. I think of resilience as the bright orange bouncy ball I loved to play with as a kid. It’s bouncy and springy and seems unstoppable. And what I love most about resilience is that it isn’t something you have it’s something you do! Resilience is a skill you can practice. Anyone can practice and develop resilience! And when we learn to handle adversity and stressful events better – when we practice resilience – the pathways among the neurons in our brains change (Tabibnia & Radecki, 2018)! Our brains are less likely to trigger a stress response because we can proactively handle the stress without a rush of hormones. We can then think clearly.

So what are some (evidence-based) strategies to practice resilience and prevent that stress response?  We can divide the strategies into two primary buckets: things you can do (your behaviors) and ways you can think (your cognitions).

I’ll be blogging about these resilience strategies in the coming year. In the meantime, think about how you can take what you learned about yourself and your capacity to bounce forward and become more resilient in 2021!

And, if you want to know more about how to support your team and employees to practice these strategies and be more resilient, please reach out – I am happy to be your resilience trainer!


Stahl, J.E., Dossett, M.L., LaJoie, A.S., Denninger, J.W., Mehta, D.H., Goldman, R., Fricchione, G. L., & Benson, H. (2015). Relaxation response and resiliency training and its effect on healthcare resource utilization. PLoS ONE 10(10): e0140212. doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0140212

Tabibnia, G., & Radecki, D. (2018). Resilience training that can change the brain. Consulting Psychology Journal: Practice and Research, 70(1), 59-88. doi: cpb0000110