Building Resilience

By Cornelia Bota



Resilience, as Oxford Dictionaries defines, is “the capacity to recover quickly from difficulties, toughness”1.

During our life, we face tragedies, misfortunes, adversities or threats.

Resilience is that quality that “allows some people to be knocked down in life and come back stronger than before.”

Rather than letting failure overcome them and drain their resolve, they find a way to rise from the ashes.

Psychologists have identified some of the factors that make someone resilient. Among them are  positive attitude, optimism, the ability to regulate emotions, and the ability to see failure as a form of helpful feedback.”2

A lot of time, we understand resilience as that rough tactic, that the longer we go through it, the tougher we become. And the tougher we are, the more successful and popular we will be.

We envision a boxer going one more round, or a football player picking himself up for one more play, or an injured dancer performing in a dance competition. But science proved us wrong.

FCM Volume 2 Issue2

Studies confirmed that the shortage of recovery period affects our capacity to be resilient and successful. Research has found that there is a direct correlation between lack of recovery and increased incidence of health and safety problems.

Lack of recovery, whether by disrupting sleep with thoughts of work or having non-stop mental stimulation by watching our phones, is costing our companies billions a year (that’s billion, not million) in lost productivity.

And just because work stops, it doesn’t mean we are recovering. We “stop” work sometimes at 5 PM, but then we spend the night wrestling with solutions to work problems, talking about our work over dinner, and falling asleep thinking about how much work we’ll do tomorrow.

In a study, researchers from Norway found that 7.8% of Norwegians have become workaholics3. The scientists cite a definition of “workaholism” as “being overly concerned about work, driven by an uncontrollable work motivation, and investing so much time and effort to work that it impairs other important life areas.”4

The key to resilience is trying hard, then stopping, recovering, and then trying again.

This conclusion is based on biology, the ability of the brain to continuously restore and sustain its well-being.

When the body is out of alignment from overworking, we waste a vast amount of mental and physical resources trying to return to balance before we can move forward.5

If you’re trying to build resilience at work, you need adequate internal and external recovery periods.

Internal recovery refers to the shorter periods of relaxation that take place within the settings of the workday, in the form of short scheduled or unscheduled breaks, by shifting attention or changing to other work tasks, when the mental or physical resources required for the initial task are temporarily drained or exhausted.

External recovery refers to actions that take place outside of work, e.g. in the free time between the workdays, and during weekends, holidays or vacations.6

If after work, you lie around on your bed and get riled up by political commentary on your phone or get stressed thinking about decisions about how to renovate your home, your brain has not received a break from high mental arousal states.

Our brains need a rest as much as our bodies do.

If you want to build resilience, you can start by strategically stopping.

Give yourself the resources to be tough by creating internal and external recovery periods.

Instead of swimming upstream, relax, meditate, sleep, watch movies, color books, or listen to entertaining podcasts.  By doing this, you’ll feel invigorated and ready to return to your “operational” zone.

Recommended reading:

  1. Bridges, William, “Managing Transitions: Making the most of Change,” September 22, 2009
  2. 2. Huffington, Arianna “The Sleep Revolution: Transforming Your Life, One Night at a Time”, April 5th, 2016


Cornelia Bota, CIP, born and raised in Transylvania (Romania). She immigrated to Canada 10 years ago and started a career in the Home and Auto insurance industry.  A business analyst (project claims system) with Intact Insurance, she enjoys being part of a small but passionate team devoted to bringing innovation and data mining to the traditional insurance industry


  2. Psychology Today –


FCM January 2017 Issue



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