The University of Arizona logo

Building Your Resiliency

“Building your resiliency means developing endurance and resistance to stressors. Building your resiliency means that many things which stressed you out in the past no longer have the same hold on you that they once did, allowing you to keep moving forward.” 

So, what exactly is resiliency?


1. The ability to recover rapidly from illness, change, or misfortune.
2. The ability of something to regain its shape after being bent, stretched or compressedency

Already, you can probably see the connection of this concept with stress management. But to focus on dealing with stress would be to miss the point.  To an observer watching you from the outside, it would appear that you have more endurance, getting through problems quicker.  You weather the storm better – endure it – with less disruption.

Building Resiliency

Generally, building resiliency involves doing two difficult things simultaneously in a stressful situation: self-calming and self-confronting.


Self-calming is taking deliberate steps to lower your physiological stress reaction. Mindfulness meditation, relaxation, deep breathing and/or healthy self-talk are examples of this.  What you use depends on what you are comfortable with, and what the context allows. 

Self-calming has many benefits.  Besides helping your brain to become clearer and more rational, the practice of self-calming is teaching your body to have a different reaction to stressful situations.


This is a more thoughtful process that can take time.  There is much a person can learn about themselves by asking why they had a particular reaction to something.  If the reaction was defensive, a question might be, “What am I defending?”  The goal is to uncover a potentially dysfunctional basis upon which the person might be operating at that moment.

Once identified, healthier concepts can be substituted for the dysfunctional one, and the long, hard work of self-discipline begins as the person’s mind learns the new basis, iteration by iteration as life proceeds forward.

Things to Remember

Building your resiliency does NOT mean that whatever is going on around you is okay or that you should accept it, because it still may be very appropriate to say, “No!” or to set a boundary.
Remember, growth takes time.