Building Resilience

by Jen Arnold, MS, RD/LDN

Resilience is a trendy word nowadays and just like the word wellness, everyone defines it differently. The most common definition has to do with bouncing back from an extreme tragedy. People often think resilience is a skill you either have or you don’t.


Many people don’t realize two things:

1.) Resilience skills can be acquired through training and practice. Steven M. Southwick, Professor of Psychiatry at Yale Medical School states that most of the new research suggests that with a little practice anyone can develop resilience.

2.) Resilience skills need to be incorporated throughout the day, not just on weekends or vacation.
Although I wasn’t one of them, some people thrive in the corporate world and it’s the perfect fit for them. Despite that, I’ve seen many people beat down by the back-to-back meetings, the never ending politics, ineffective communication and constant multi-tasking.

I’ve heard stories of managers who asked their employees about deliverables the night before their employees were headed into surgery (and no “I’ll be thinking about you tomorrow” was mentioned). Or the guy who’s mom just died and his company expected him to keep up his workload while he was out.

Working the most hours and answering emails on off-work time is seen as a badge of honor. Taking a break, a walk, laughing with our co-workers or simply staring off into space in front of your computer is seen as “slacking” although those are the times where we get our best ideas.

As much as we’d like to think there is, there’s no separation between home and work. Employees go to work with personal stressors and some go to work to escape the crap going on at home. Many go home to the people they love most with mental and emotional distractions from work, perhaps venting to their spouse about their a-hole boss or thinking about tomorrow’s deadline.

Even though we need stress in our lives to grow, we need to learn the skills to thrive through it instead of letting it beat us down.

From the first time I was exposed to resilience training, I was hooked because it made such an impact in my life both personally and professionally. Employers can’t take the stress away but they can teach their employees the skill of resilience.

About the author
Jen Arnold advises employers on how to build a culture of wellness that enhances the health of their employees. She has over 11 years of experience in the worksite wellness field and is a Registered Dietitian by training. Jen lives in Raleigh, NC USA with her husband, son and dog..