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Road to Resilience

Help Steer Students and their communities on the road to resilience:


Resilience is the process of adapting well in the face of adversity, trauma, tragedy, threats or significant sources of stress — such as family and relationship problems, serious health problems, serious trauma as a result of war, ethnic conflict, natural disasters, instability, lawlessness or workplace and financial stressors.


Resilience entails "bouncing back" from difficult experiences.


People are able to learn and commonly demonstrate resilience.

Resilience is not a trait that people either have or do not have. It involves behaviours, thoughts and actions that can be learned and developed in anyone.

How to develop resilience:


A combination of factors contributes to resilience:


The primary factor in resilience is having caring and supportive relationships within and outside your classroom community and family. Relationships that create trust, provide role models and offer encouragement and reassurance help bolster a person's resilience.


Several additional factors are associated with resilience, including:


·       The capacity to make realistic plans and take steps to carry them out.

·       Self-belief: confidence in your strengths and abilities.

·       Communication and problem-solving skills.

·       The capacity to manage strong feelings and impulses like frustration/ anger/ disappointment/ panic.

Strategies for Building Resilience:


Developing resilience is a personal journey. People do not all react the same to traumatic and stressful life events. An approach to building resilience that works for one person might not work for another. For a trainer, understanding the varying strategies one can use to build resilience will be key in helping students customise and create personal strategies.


10 ways to build resilience:

Make connections. Good relationships with close family members, friends or others are important. Accepting help and support from those who care about you and will listen to you strengthens resilience. Some people find that being active in civic groups, or other local groups provides social support and can help with reclaiming hope. Assisting others in their time of need also can benefit the helper.


Avoid seeing crises as insurmountable problems. You can't change the fact that highly stressful events happen, but you can change how you interpret and respond to these events. Try looking beyond the present to how future circumstances may be a little better. Note any subtle ways in which you might already feel somewhat better as you deal with difficult situations.


Accept that change is a part of living. Certain goals may no longer be attainable as a result of adverse situations. Accepting circumstances that cannot be changed can help you focus on circumstances that you can alter.


Move toward your goals. Develop some realistic goals. Do something regularly — even if it seems like a small accomplishment — that enables you to move toward your goals. Instead of focusing on tasks that seem unachievable, ask yourself, "What's one thing I know I can accomplish today that helps me move in the direction I want to go?"


Take decisive actions. Act on adverse situations as much as you can. Take decisive actions, rather than detaching completely from problems and stresses and wishing they would just go away.


Nurture a positive view of yourself. Developing confidence in your ability to solve problems and trusting your instincts helps build resilience.


Keep things in perspective. Even when facing very painful events, try to consider the stressful situation in a broader context and keep a long-term perspective. Remind yourself that this time will pass. Avoid dwelling on the subject. Avoid blowing the event out of proportion.


Maintain a hopeful outlook. An optimistic outlook enables you to expect that good things will happen in your life. Try visualizing what you want, rather than worrying about what you fear. Do not swell on the problems, but rather work towards a solution. Visualise that solution and take steps towards it.


Identify the Stressors in Your Life:

Adapt to the stressor:


If you can't change the stressor, change yourself. You can adapt to stressful situations and regain your sense of control by changing your expectations and attitude.


Reframe problems:

Try to view stressful situations from a more positive perspective. Rather than fuming about power outage, focus on the silence and enjoy it. If you are stuck in aa traffic jam, look at it as an opportunity to pause, pull out a newspaper or book, read a poem that relaxes you, or listen to your favorited radio station, or and enjoy alone time.


Look at the big picture:

Take perspective of the stressful situation. Ask yourself how important it will be in the long run. Will it matter in a month? A year? Is it really worth getting upset over? If you get upset, are there other, more pressing issues in your life you are ignoring that need attention now. Try to concentrate on taking positive steps.


Adjust your standards:

Perfectionism is a major source of avoidable stress. Stop setting yourself up for failure by demanding perfection. Set reasonable standards for yourself and others, and learn to be okay with “good enough.”


Practice gratitude:

When stress is getting you down, take a moment to reflect on all the things you appreciate in your life, including your own positive qualities and gifts. This simple strategy can help you keep things in perspective.


Accept the things you can't change:

Some sources of stress are unavoidable. You can’t prevent or change stressors such as the death of a loved one, a serious illness, or a nationwide unemployment/recession or war and low level ethnic conflict. In such cases, the best way to cope with stress is to accept things as they are. Acceptance may be difficult, but in the long run, it’s easier than railing against a situation you can’t change.


Don't try to control the uncontrollable:

Many things in life are beyond our control—particularly the behaviour of other people. Rather than stressing out over them, focus on the things you can control such as the way you choose to react to problems.


Look for the upside:

When facing major challenges, try to look at them as opportunities for personal growth. If your own poor choices contributed to a stressful situation, reflect on them and learn from your mistakes.


Learn to forgive:

Accept the fact that we live in an imperfect world and that people make mistakes. Let go of anger and resentments. Free yourself from negative energy by forgiving and moving on.


Share your feelings:

Expressing what you’re going through can be very cathartic, even if there’s nothing you can do to alter the stressful situation.



There is nothing more calming than spending quality time with another human being who makes you feel safe and understood. In fact, face-to-face interaction triggers a cascade of hormones that counteracts the body’s defensive “fight-or-flight” response. It’s nature’s natural stress reliever (as an added bonus, it also helps stave off depression and anxiety). So make it a point to connect regularly with family and friends.

Keep in mind that the people you talk to don’t have to be able to fix your stress. They simply need to be good listeners. And try not to let worries about looking weak or being a burden keep you from opening up, don’t worry too much what others think of you. When you share your issues you may find most people around you deal with similar problems. The people who care about you will be flattered by your trust. It will only strengthen your bond.


Learn from project/ problem-solving/ past experiences:


Show the students how focusing on experiences they had during Life Skills program could help them building resilience on a personal level. Help the students to explore their interactions with class mates, the managing of their own expectations with school staff and any conflicts that they had to learn to resolve among themselves.


In a reflection session; ask students to consider the questions below. Then repeat the process, giving them time to practice (remember that reflecting on inner strengths and examining conflicts is not a feature of their communities so give them time to practice), and participate yourself, model the behaviour and the kind of open discussion you want to see develop among the students and you will find the students will slowly discover how they can respond effectively to difficult situations in their own personal lives using that they have been through in the Life Skills session:


Consider the following:

·       What kinds of events have been most rewarding/stressful for me?

·       How have those events affected me?

·       Have I found it helpful to think of important people in my life when I am distressed?

·       To whom have I reached out for support in working through a traumatic or stressful experience?

·       How did I achieve the goals I set?

·       What made me feel good?

·       How did I maintain a positive atmosphere when circumstances became stressful?

·       What have I learned about myself and my interactions with others this project?

·       Did I go through a difficult set of circumstances that I found tough to share?

·       What happened when I did manage to talk about it/ share my feelings?

·       Has it been helpful for me to assist someone else going through a similar experience?

·       Have I been able to overcome obstacles, and if so, how?

·       What has helped make me feel more hopeful about the future?

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