Developing Resilience

Supporting Your Well-Being

Using the content below, you will explore resilience, not only in the context of bouncing back, but also as a way of supporting your well-being going forward. This was the most challenging content for our team to put together, because the concepts in this section are connected to things that are deeply personal within us. You might have different ways of thinking about and defining some of the concepts that we have included in this part of the course. That’s okay. This content is for you to think about the support that you need at different times and stages of your work and personal lives.

Course Module Introduction

Reframing Introduction

Learning Objectives

  • Define why we are going to talk about developing resilience in the Postdoc Academy.
  • Explore evidence-based approaches to managing stress and developing resilience (deteriorating, adapting, recovering, and growing).
  • Identify opportunities for recovery from work and life stresses.   
  • Develop, implement, and reflect on an action plan that will support progress on a personal or professional goal and effectively build resilience.


  • Icebreakers

    open activity



    • What comes to mind when you think of the word “resilience”?
    • What are the characteristics of people when they are resilient?
  • Failure: Unlocking Our Potential for Success

    open activity

    Before you explore resilience, spend a few minutes to consider the concept of failure. There’s a lot of research consideration and re-consideration of the role of failure in achievement. We want to explore how failure can be used as a powerful part of our growth process so that when we encounter those inevitable failures, we can demonstrate resilience and move through them.

    Failure: Unlocking our Potential for Success

    Discussion Prompts

    • How do you define failure in your professional life?
    • Have there been events in your life that you initially perceived as a failure that eventually ended up leading to future successes? How did you make that realization/cognitive shift?
    • Have you ever let the fear of failure prevent you from doing something that you wanted to? Thinking back on those decisions, how could you have shifted your mindset to re-frame that fear into motivation.
  • Digging into Resilience

    open activity

    What is Resilience?

    Models of Resilience


    There are multiple frameworks researchers use when studying resilience that look at different parts of recovering from stress including how to decrease the impact of the stressor, how to improve adaptation from the stress, and how to support the whole process. These frameworks complement one another and provide a fresh look at how to thrive with the multiple stresses that we all experience. If you’re interested in learning more about these frameworks, we’ve included a few references and readings you may want to check out. 

  • Reflecting on Stress and Deterioration

    open activity

    Acknowledging Barriers to Resilience

    Resilience Case Studies

    Below you will find three cases about different barriers to resilience that postdocs might face. Read through the case studies and reflect on the discussion prompts.

    Self-Reflection Prompts

    • Reflect on a barrier that you have encountered or are currently encountering that feels out of your control.
    • What are the current steps you have considered or have already tried to address the situation?

    Time Management Strategies

    When It’s Not Manageable


    Resources for When It’s Not Manageable

  • Reflecting on Bouncing Back

    open activity

    What is Adaptation?

    What is Recovery?

    Discussion Prompts

    • What is the difference in behavior that leads to different recovery periods?
    • What’s driving those differences?

    Imagine a time when you felt doubtful, unsure of your progress, or burnt out related to something important to you. It might be from a rejected manuscript, but it could also be from an unproductive meeting with your PI or a failed job search.

    • How did you recover from that stressor?
    • What steps did you take to recover?
    • Were these constructive (did they enhance your recovery) or destructive (did they deter your recovery)?

    Strategies for Bouncing Back

    Discussion Prompts

    What strategies for bouncing back have worked for you?

  • Reflecting on Growth: Building an Action Plan

    open activity

    Introducing the Action Plan

  • Checking In

    open activity

    This section is meant to take place at least 2 weeks after the completion of the above materials.

    Checking In on Your Resilience

    Discussion Prompts

    • Describe one accomplishment you’ve made in developing or implementing your plan to support a personal or professional goal.
    • Describe one barrier you’ve encountered in developing or implementing your plan to support a personal or professional goal.
    • Do you need to adjust your plan to make it more practical?
    • What will your actions be in the next month to overcome this barrier?


Course Module References

Additional Resources

American Psychological Association Resources

  • APA provides an extensive guide on The Road to Resilience, including building resilience and identifying resources to look for help.

National Postdoctoral Association Webinar


  • An extensive resource to learn about the skills and attitudes that are associated with resilience.
  • Recognize the advantages of resilience in overcoming obstacles and adversity.