Eleven resilience ‘red flags’ and how to wave them away

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

5 min read

05 October 2021


Resilience is fast becoming ‘The power skill of the 2021 workplace’.  Reputable sources like CIPD and Personnel Today call it out as a top leadership priority.  We all have a responsibility to help ourselves and each other maintain and build our resilience.

What is resilience

This Aesop’s fable summarises resilience:

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.

Dr Lucy Hone, Academic researcher, author and co-director of the NZ Institute of resilience tells us:

“Adversity doesn’t discriminate.  If you are alive, you have had too, or will have too, deal with some tough times. Resilient people get that sh*t happens.  They know suffering is part of the human existence.  There are simple strategies that can help.  They are not rocket science.  What’s key, is that we are willing to give them a go”

11 resilience ‘red flags’

With conscious practice, we build our resilience levels to see us through tough times.  When they drop, we use resilience-building strategies to top-up.

Here are 11 common ‘red flags’ that shout, ‘top-up required!’.  They’re expanded on in our free e-book.  It’s packed with super-simple strategies for rebuilding your resilience.

#1 Big reactions

Sobbing over a broken photocopier? Losing the plot with a go-slow laptop?  Big emotional reactions to everyday stuff is a resilience ‘red flag’. 

#2 Unhealthy choices

During ‘lockdown’ I swapped 5k runs for Netflix and comfort food.  This caused weight gain.  I felt crappy.

Unhealthy coping strategies feel like they help at the time.  But “the behaviour does not resolve the problem in the long-term and may actually increase the harm” (source: careinMind.com).

#3 Feeling like a ‘victim’

People stuck in a ‘victim mode’ believe:

1.      ‘Bad things keep happening to me.’

2.      ‘Other people/things are to blame (not me!).’

3.      ‘Nothing will help so there’s no point in trying!’

Having a ‘victim’ mind-set (ourselves, or working with those who do) affects resilience as this article explains.

#4 Focus failure

Finding it harder than usual to focus on daily tasks, for a prolonged period of time, affects your resilience.

#5 Glass half empty

Is ‘It’s gonna get worse!’ your go-to thought when things go wrong?  If so, you may be caught in negative thinking.  Take our free e-book quiz to learn how to escape the trap.

#6 Isolating yourself

Are you distancing from your support network? Turning down offers to meet friends or family?  Avoiding sharing your feelings?

Noticing that you have started to withdraw is the first important step of waving this red flag away.

#7 Living in the past (or future)

Many of us dwell on the past from time to time.  Or look to the future, either with fear or hope.  “When I win the lottery, all my problems will be solved” is just one example.  Learning to live in the present is a key resilience-building skill.  Check out this article

#8 Physical pain/illness

A lack of resilience leads to stress.  Chronic stress is associated with many harmful health consequences including: high blood pressure, weakened immune system, anxiety, depression, insomnia, heartburn, indigestion and heart disease.

#9 Social media sabotage

I often jump on Facebook in a good mood than come off feeling low.  I suffer from ‘compare-itus’ and frustration over losing time and gaining nothing!  If not managed correctly, social media IS a harmful resilience ‘red flag’.

#10 Too much struggle

Grace Kelly (author) tells us, “Struggle is a universal experience.  We may all have different struggles but we all know struggle”.  It’s a red flag when day-to-day stuff starts feeling difficult.

#11 Sleep troubles

Sleep is essential for our resilience.  It enables us to learn, make decisions and balance our emotions.  Research shows that sleep loss inhibits the functioning of brain areas vital for resilience.

Final thought

Now that we know resilience is a capability we can all build it.  The benefits to mental health, well being and productivity are obvious.  So if people really are our most valuable asset it makes total sense to help those around us improve their resilience.

Your next actions

Now it’s over to you.  Which red flags resonate?

  • Read our free e-book of super-simple strategies.  Try them out.
  • Try our demo of or our digital Resilience game.  See how we can help you in supporting your people
  • Check out our virtual resilience programme
  • Know someone who’d benefit from support from one of our highly skilled ICF Coaches.  Click here to chat about how it will help

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