51 super-simple resilience tips that work from everyday folk

Nikki Cinderey
Nikki Cinderey
Lead facilitator and coach
(Assoc CIPD,  NLP Practitioner and ICF Coach) 

9 min read


With reputable sources like CIPD talking of a coming mental health crisis, building people’s resilience is a critical topic.  Regardless of sector, the more we can explain and make super simple the support to boost people’s health and wellbeing the more people will engage.

What is resilience

Resilience starts in the reed and the oak tree’s simplicity.  Summarising Aesop’s fable:

The mighty oak sneered at the reed for being weak and feeble.  Yet when a huge gale subsided the oak was up-ended while the reeds bounced back.  The tree’s rigidity was its downfall and the reed’s flexibility its quality.

Mark McGuinnes defines resilience as:

“A person’s ability to deal with stress and bounce back from adversity – without permanent damage or distortion”.

Whoopee, resilience is a skill!  That means we can all develop ours. 

Why bother?

In a nutshell, we need resilience to get us through the tough stuff.  And as we often say people are our most valuable asset (cringe), benefits for people’s mental health, well-being, stress or however you describe it means bottom line benefits too.

Throughout the pandemic, resilience has been a hot topic.  Understandably so!  It helps us cope in stressful times and never has there been a greater test on our resilience, mental health and feeling in control of our own lives.  In a nutshell, we need resilience to get us through the tough stuff.

51 tips from our clients

Research conducted by The Mental Health Foundation found that almost 87% of people are using at least one coping strategy.  Here I’m sharing fifty one tips that work for participants on our Building Resilience programmes and Resilience game sessions.  Things that are working for people like you and me.  I back these up with facts and resources to help you apply them yourself.  There is something here for everyone!


#1 Ask for help

When you need it.  Far from being a sign of weakness, asking for help is known to increase resilience.  Emotionally resilient people accept their own strengths and limitations.  Developing a broad and diverse network of ‘go too’ people helps to make asking for help easier.

#2 Book a massage

Or better still, a whole spa day!  Not only does massage help relieve physical discomfort it promotes better sleep and reduces stress.

#3 Break state

When you feel “stuck” change focus!  Switch to something different.  A short walk, hanging up the washing or calling a friend helps to clear our mind.

#4 Catch negative thoughts

Getting into the habit of reframing negative self-talk improves mind-set, self-confidence and overall quality of life.  For example, "I'm rubbish at standing up for myself" becomes "With practice, I'm getting better everyday at standing up for myself". 

#5 Chunk down

The big tasks.  This reduces feelings of overwhelm whilst making seemingly mammoth tasks feel more do-able.  As Henry Ford says “Nothing is particularly hard if you divide it into smaller jobs”.

#6 Clear the clutter

De-clutter your workspace.  Add natural light and plants.  As the saying goes “tidy workspace, tidy mind”.  It is also known to help spur creativity.

#7 Collect resilience resources

Books, quotes, people who support you, develop positive affirmations for yourself.  Build yourself a strong resilient ‘toolkit’ you can dip into as needed.

#8 Connect with your inner child

Swing on the swing, slide down the slide, and jump on the trampoline!  Let your inner child out to play!  It’s not only fun, connecting with our inner child holds many benefits which include healing childhood trauma.

#9 Cook a tasty meal

And if you’re no Jamie Oliver in the kitchen, recipe boxes like Hello Fresh and Gousto are easy to make, offering a wide variety of menu choices.

#10 Curl up with a box set

This Rolling Stone article offers some current recommendations.

#11 Dance

Whether it’s an organised class or dancing round your kitchen, neuroscience tells us it raises serotonin levels.  This key hormone stabilises our mood, feelings of wellbeing and happiness.

#12 Disappear into a good book

In this article The Guardian recommend “the 50 hottest new books everyone should read”.

#13 Do a personal SWOT

Resilient peoples recognise their strengths and qualities.  Doing a personal SWOT (strengths, weaknesses, opportunities and threats) help you make the most of your talents and opportunities.  Here’s some help from mindtools.

#14 Do an act of kindness

In his book “The little book of kindness”, Dr David Hamilton describes kindness as “the glue that holds people together”.  Demonstrating genuine kindness does many positive things for us including:  reduces blood pressure, boosts the immune system, relaxes the nervous system and makes people happy.

#15 Dress up

Wear clothes that make you feel great.  Just because! I was furloughed during lockdown and felt best on the days when I dressed in clothes that made me feel good and did my hair and makeup.

#16 Enjoy a bubble bath

Add lavender oil to bring your mind and body back into balance or Epsom salts to ease muscle pain.

#17 Face the fear

The best way to deal with things that scare us is to tackle them head on.  Facing our fears is the best way to grow.  In her new book “Struggle”, Grace Marshall says “curiosity is the best antidote to fear”.  Getting curious helps!  She also says “yes, it might seem challenging.  And we can do challenging!”

#18 Get creative

Draw, paint, sketch, and make things.  Getting creative unlocks inner resources for dealing with stress, problem solving and enjoyment.

#19 Get feedback

Feedback helps us grow and develop and become aware of our blind spots.  Being open to feedback makes us less stressed out and so feel more resilient.  Accept feedback with a smile and a “thank you” then take it away and reflect.

#20 Get handy

Build something.  Even building flat-pack furniture will give you a sense of achievement once complete.

#21 Get running or jogging

The list of benefits include:  stronger bones and muscles and improved cardiovascular fitness.  For beginners, plans like the NHS “Couch to 5K” plan can help you get started. 

#22 Go for a walk

The many benefits include:  improved fitness, cardiac health, reduced risk of cancer and improved mood.

#23 Have a good cry

It’s ok to cry when we need too.  Medical science tells us crying can be good for us.  It releases endorphins, the feel-good chemicals that help ease both physical and emotional pain.

#24 Have a pj day

Or if you’re an employer, give your people a “mental health” or “wellbeing” day.  A day off, to spend doing something for themselves.  The Robertson team had one a few months back.  I walked my dog then literally put my pj’s on and watched Netflix.  It was bliss!  And I felt refreshed for it.

#25 Have an adventure

Try something or go somewhere new.  This month, I go gorge walking for the first time.  I can’t wait!  See here for ideas on fun, outdoor activities in Scotland.  

#26 Hello sunshine

Sunlight boosts serotonin in your brain which gives you more energy and keeps you calm, positive and focussed.  Spend time in sunshine when you can.. Where sunlight isn’t available, a sun lamp is an alternative.  This medical news today article explores five of the best sun lamps on the market.

#27 Hug a loved one (human or furry!)

Us ‘huggers’ struggled during lockdown.  Dr David Hamilton says “a hug a day keeps the cardiologist away’.  Hugging releases ‘feel good’ hormones which improve our mood and offers health benefits to boot!

#28 Hydrate

This Resilient Educator article  explains the benefits of staying hydrated which include better focus and memory and improved mood.

#29 JFDI

If there is something you’ve been procrastinating over and putting off, apply JFDI (Just F*+~king Do It).  Make a plan and get started.  You’ll feel instantly better when you do.

#30 Journal daily

There is plenty of science supporting daily journaling as a resilience builder.  There are many journal products on the market too! The popular “Six minute diary” offers a simple method and aims to make you a happier, more fulfilled person.

#31 Jump on your mat

Regularly practising Yoga or Pilates offers many health benefits including:  supporting your focus and building resilience.

#32 Laugh out loud

In his “Why so serious?” TED Talk,  Daniel Murray tells us how laughter can help build resilience.

#33 Limit screen time

Humans need to move our bodies and connect with other humans.  Excessive screen time is linked to Increased BMI (Stanford Uni data).  Regularly ‘unplugging’ is known to help us become more resilient.  Taking regular breaks from the screen and making some meetings “walk n talk” on phone can help.

#34 List pro’s and con’s

Instead of struggling with a decision, make a list of pro’s and con’s.  Click here for some help from mindtools on using this tool.

#35 Look for the silver lining

Dr Barbara Frederickson characterises resilient people by their ability to experience positive and negative emotions.  When we are really struggling, Dr Chris Johnstone suggests we ask ourselves “what choices might help me have a better day today, even though xxx (there will always be an even though!”

#36 Mental movies

Elite athletes visualise success.  When you have a goal you want to achieve, fast forward in your mind’s eye to a point in time when you have achieved it.  Create you’ve vivid picture of success.  Better still, play the movie of success in your mind.  What are you seeing? hearing? feeling?  Use our Achieve Measurable Success helper as a guide.

#37 No tech before bed

The blue light from mobile phone screens restrains the production of melatonin.  This hormone controls our sleep-wake cycle. Screen time before bed makes it difficult to fall asleep and wake up the next day. Experts recommend we cut off screen time 30-60 minutes before bed.

#38 Play (or learn to play) a musical instrument

Playing a musical instrument is known to turn on almost every area of our brain simultaneously.  I know many people – older than myself - who learnt to play a musical instrument during lockdown, with guitar being a popular choice.  It’s never too late to learn!

#39 Practice daily reflection

Any skill we choose to develop requires conscious practice at the start.  Use our conscious practice reflections journal to support you in making this a habit.

#40 Practice gratitude

Start by simply writing down three things you are grateful for every day, in a journal or into your phone.  This PositivePsychology article explains the benefits of practising gratitude and most significant research findings.

#41 Practice meditation or mindfulness daily

In his TED Talk “All it takes is 10 mindful minutes”  Mindfulness expert Andy Puddicombe describes the transformative power of simply being mindful for 10-minutes a day.

#42 Return to nature

Spending time outdoors is proven to build resilience.  Walk in the park or through the forest.  Paddle in the sea, climb the mountain.  Explore the great outdoors!

#43 Set attractive goals

Set yourself goals that are inspirational and attractive to you, then create your plan for achieving them.

#44 Share stories of resilience

And invite others to share theirs with you.  How many times in life have you already struggled and survived and bounced back? What did you do? What did you learn?’  Books like “Bounce” (Gill Hasson and Sue Hadfield) are packed full of inspiring stories.  Dr Chris Johnstone, resilience guru and author tells us “sharing our stories of resilience, is resilience building in itself.”

#45 Stretch your comfort zone

Eleanor Roosevelt tells us to “Do one thing every day that scares you”.  The more we deliberately stretch outside our comfort zone, the easier it feels.  This leads to increased confidence and being better able to deal with what life throws at us.

#46 Take a power nap

Aptly named!  This article speaks of the power behind the power nap.

#47 Take a social media break

I may go onto Facebook in a good mood.  I rarely come off it in one!  Mental health experts recommend digital detoxes.  This Insider article tells us how to do it and explains why it’s so important (https://www.insider.com/taking-a-break-from-social-media)

#48 Talk

To quote the old BT ad ‘It’s good to talk!’  Reach out to someone you can trust and share how you feel on tough days.  If you feel distressed and alone, listening charities like Samaritans are simply a phone call away.

#49 Time with loved ones

Humans are social beings.  There are many positive benefits to spending time with people we love as explained in this article. (https://beautifultrendstoday.com/spending-time-with-your-loved-ones-can-improve-your-health/)

#50 Volunteer your time

Resilience is one of the many skills you gain from doing voluntary work.  As a Samaritan volunteer myself, I gain a great deal from giving back in this way.  See here for volunteering opportunities in Scotland.

#51 Wild swimming

This has become a ‘thing’ during lockdown.  In this article, the passionate swimmers of Wild Swimming Cornwall share the many health benefits emerging on this increasingly popular hobby.

Your next actions

  1. Pick the strategies that appeal to you the most and apply
  2. Share this blog with others
  3. Check out the Resilience game online an dtry the demo today. 
  4. Look into Resilience training for your people

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