How to Build your Resilience Under Pressure

Pressure? What pressure?

We all need a little pressure in our lives, both at work and at home. The right amount motivates us to get things done. But what happens to us if the pressure becomes too great, and we can’t handle it? This is where resilience comes in.

Stress is defined as ‘a situation when the pressure placed upon us exceeds our perceived resources and we feel we can longer cope’. So, we need to be better at managing the everyday pressures – we need to be more resilient.

We can break resilience down into 6 key areas:

A sense of purpose

This is the foundation for all of the other elements. The stronger your sense of purpose, the better equipped you are to handle challenges and obstacles which may spring up. If you can see the target you’re aiming at, you can hit it!  Are you clear about your direction and goals?  You’ve got to believe in something!

A positive mental attitude

How do you stay positive? This is something of a balancing act, between being able to think positively about situations whilst being realistic about what can be achieved.

It is not about naïve optimism, but involves being able to generate positive thoughts and feelings about situations. A positive attitude makes you happier and more resilient, it improves your relationships, and it even increases your chances of success in any endeavour. It also makes you more creative and can help you to make better decisions.

Connecting with others

Sometimes you can’t do it all on your own! Building supportive and caring relationships is essential.  Your interpersonal communication skills can be an important element of your ability to be resilient, based on how you handle difficult situations.

It is also essential to be able to offer appropriate help and support to others and ask for it when needed. Having a support network of colleagues, friends and family is vital – it is easier to bounce back when you know somebody is there for you.


Let’s get things done! How good are you at seeing things through to completion?  When faced with challenges do you adopt a “can do” approach, and take timely and appropriate action?  How well do you finish the tasks that you have started?  Are you able to keep going in the face of adversity rather than giving up?

Taking control

Control comes from how you think and react to situations, your emotional agility. Do you take responsibility for yourself and your actions? Are you able to recognise the challenges or situations which are beyond your control, and let go of these to focus on the things that you can do something about? Make sure you are devoting your time and energy here, and where you can take control, you do. Anything else is a futile waste.

Looking after yourself

If you cannot build your resilience levels you will find it harder to deal with pressure. You will become stressed and you might begin to suffer physically, mentally, emotionally, or all of the above!

Looking after yourself is essential to help you deal with stress. Is your lifestyle a healthy one? Have you identified your ‘coping networks’ which enable you to deal with stressful situations? Are you able to ‘switch off’ and relax sometimes?

For some people, it means going to the gym after work, or hobbies and other pastimes, or taking the dog for a walk in the countryside, or just talking about the stress with a loved one or colleague: ‘You will not believe the day I’ve just had!’ Book yourself some ‘me time’ and stick to it!


If we’re going to be better at handling pressure, we need to work on our resilience levels. Consider the 6 areas above and evaluate your resilience – if you feel you are lacking in any of them, then these are your areas for development. Ask yourself this: When the going gets tough, do you get going?

If you’re interested in learning to manage your stress and build the practical skills of resilience, take a look at our Personal Resilience training or Stress Management courses.