What Is Resilience and Why Is It Important?

We all face traumatic events that change our lives – like a major illness, the death of a friend or parent, school or work difficulties. Sometimes it is not just an isolated incident, but a series of challenging events or a period of uninterrupted stress.

People respond to these challenging situations in different ways. While there may not be any outward physical signs, there could be inward experiences of strong emotions, uncertainty or depression.

What is it that enables people to adapt to these life-changing situations? It involves mental resilience or toughness to cope with the stress and our ability to bounce back when faced with difficult situations.

The good news is that we can learn to be more resilient. Resilience is not something that we are born with but more like a muscle that grows as it is strengthened. Here are some fruity qualities that can help us build resilience.

Related: Stress Management: Be a Master of Stress

Resilience is About Perspective

Resilience protects us from harsh environments just like how the durian shell protects the fruit within.

When we face a challenge or problem, try to reframe and think of it as an opportunity to learn and grow. Choosing to have a positive perspective can help us use our critical thinking and problem-solving skills to work through the situation and make better decisions.

Think of the durian which has spikes to protect itself and a tough exterior. Similarly, we too need to develop resilience and toughen ourselves up. Here are some traits resilient people display that help them overcome challenges.

Avoid “thorny” thinking traps

Challenge any negative thinking and recognise thinking traps. We make broad assumptions about ourselves, predict what is going to happen, or assume we know what others are thinking — all based on little or no evidence.

Be thankful

We should practise gratitude and remind ourselves of what we have achieved and look forward to the future. Don’t waste time being envious of someone else’s achievements or successes. Focus on what we have and what we have achieved. Resilient individuals choose to have a thankful and grateful outlook.

Do not fear failure

Failure builds resilience. Learn from mistakes and continually improve. A failure can prove to be a valuable learning opportunity.

Related: Stressed Out? Keep Calm And Commute

Resilience is About Taking Time to Recharge

Like papaya flesh, parts of us are vulnerable to bruises.

Remember that we are like the delicate chiku or papaya with soft exteriors that are vulnerable to bruises. We need to take the time to look after ourselves and recharge after facing challenging situations.

The key to resilience is not about overworking the body and mind. Instead, resilience is about persevering, then taking a break to recover, before pressing on again.

Developing resilience means giving our bodies and minds a chance to recover and recharge by doing the following:

Get a mental break

Get enough sleep and go tech-free occasionally. Unplugging from smartphones and computers would allow us to spend more time connecting with people and build supportive networks.

Get enough exercise and eat healthily

Exercise has been found to reduce stress, and improve both mental health and the quality of sleep[1].

Related: Disconnect To Reconnect — Why A Social Media Detox Might Be Good For You

Resilience is About Reaching Out

Like longans, being in a cluster provides support and strengthens resilience.

Like a bunch of longans or dukus that are found hanging in clusters on trees, we need to be able to turn to our support systems. Research suggests that social support has been found to be essential for maintaining physical and psychological health[2]. Try the following tips to get a different perspective:

Seek help

Talk to peers, family, colleagues and seek help by contacting a hotline or get professional help. When we get help from others, it is a more convenient and faster way of getting the help we need.

Help someone

We can promote a caring culture by recognising the common signs of distress and pointing the person in need to the right avenue of help. There are also channels that provide information and help specifically for youths who might be struggling with mental health issues.

Being more mentally resilient can change our mental and emotional responses to challenging events. Our emotions are real and powerful and can affect how we behave. We can continuously learn to regulate our emotions and behaviour and improve our resilience.


If you need more information/resources to help you cope, you can go to Belle, the Beyond the Label helpbot.

SOS (Samaritans of Singapore) also provides emotional support for those in crisis.

Suicide Prevention and Crisis Helplines

SOS (Samaritans of Singapore)



24 hours

Care Email




Care Text


accessible via Chatbox function


24 hours

Visit MindSG for more tools to take care of your mental well-being. 

Download the HealthHub app on Google Play or Apple Store to access more health and wellness advice at your fingertips.

Read these next:


  1. Gerber, M., Brand, S., Herrmann, C., Colledge, F., Holsboer-Trachsler, E., & Pühsea, U. (2014, Aug). Increased objectively assessed vigorous-intensity exercise is associated with reduced stress, increased mental health and good objective and subjective sleep in young adults. Physiology & Behaviour, 135, 17-24.
    Retrieved May 2017 from http://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0031938414003370
  2. Ozbay, F., Johnson, D. C., Dimoulas, E., Morgan, C. A., Charnet, D., & Southwick, S. (2007, May). Social Support and Resilience to Stress. From Neurobiology to Clinical Practice, Psychiatry (Edgmont), 4(5), 35-40.
    Retrieved May 2017 from https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2921311/