6 Pillars of Resilience Model

Cutting edge simple to use stress management model and techniques to help manage stress and build resilience

The 6 Pillars of Resilience represent the key evidence-based qualities of creating powerful Resilience. They’re the backbone of our world-class resilience programmes and embody behaviour-change concepts and techniques including Neuro-Linguistic-Programming (NLP), EQ (Emotional Intelligence) and Positive Psychology frameworks. Please note that regardless of whether you learn a 5 Pillars of resilience or 6 Pillars model - there is no definitive resilience framework, merely different perceptions of how best to address stress-management.




 1.  Satisfaction with Lifestyle
  • Making the right life choices ‘Flow’
  • Work-life balance 
  • Learning and growth
  • Giving
2.    Supportive Relationships
  • Expressing Empathy for others
  • Strong social networks
  • Good interpersonal skills
  •  Active listening

−     Conflict resolution

−     Emotional Expression

3.    Physical Wellbeing
  • Optimal Nutrition
  • Physical activity (or exercise)
  • Quality Sleep
  • Healthy Environment


4.    Solution-Focused Coping
  • Planning
  • Prioritisation
  • Taking action
  • Restraint coping
  • Problem-Solving
5.    Emotion-Focused Coping
  • Mindfulness
  • Relaxation
  • Humour
  • Acceptance (SR)
  • Positive re-interpretation (Optimism) and growth
  • Spirituality
6.    Positive Beliefs
  • Personal Control  (Independence
  • Commitment
  • Challenge
  • Self-Regard


Satisfaction with Lifestyle

People who lead a satisfying and fulfilling life tend to cope better with stress and adversity. Find what you love to do, what you’re good or natural doing and focus on it - it will serve you in the long run.  It’s about making the right choices

For example, fulfilment at work comes from choosing a job that fits well with your personal interests, natural abilities and goals.  People who enjoy and believe in what they do, tend to do better and are better able to manage periods of pressure and change. They work to their strengths.

Research supports this and also shows that life satisfaction comes with ‘Flow’ moments.  Flow occurs when you take part in a challenging and enjoyable activity that becomes so absorbing that you lose sense of time e.g. singing in a choir, playing an instrument, skiing, painting or reading a great book.  The more flow moments you have, the greater your satisfaction levels are likely to be.

Fulfilment also comes from maintaining good work-life balance, learning and personal development. It’s also enhanced by giving (e.g. doing something nice for a friend, a stranger or thanking someone) and by finding engagement in work and in home life.

Supportive Relationships

The phrase ‘a problem shared is a problem halved’ was coined for good reason. People with strong social networks, close family and friends tend to manage stress more effectively. Knowing there is someone we can openly share our experiences and feelings with is the most powerful support mechanism we can have. A sense of belonging comes with strong social networks and is important for emotional wellbeing. 

Relationships require strong interpersonal skills, particularly empathy, active listening, assertiveness and an ability to resolve conflict. Emotional intelligence expresses many of these core competencies, which explains why EQ skills lies at the heart of resilience.

Physical Wellbeing

We hear it all the time and it’s true, our bodies work best when we eat well, sleep well, and do some exercise.  Looking after your body is vital, not only for maintaining good health but also for building resilience.  There’s lots of evidence to show that people who are physically healthy, cope much better with mental pressures and stress.

Focusing on different types of exercise and lifestyles that contribute to becoming physically fit, strong and flexible is important. Find out what you like doing, as you’ll only keep to an exercise regime if you actually enjoy doing it. Living in a healthy environment that supports and maintains these activities will also make the commitment easier to sustain.

Physical exercise also encourages a healthy mental state. It helps take our focus from our mind to our bodies and can be a form of mediation which helps re-balance us as well as helping us stay fit. Physical exercise can be a great way to switch off  'our stress' and turn on 'relaxation'.

Solution-Focused Coping

When the going gets tough, resilient people tend to confront the issues head-on and the technical term for this is solution-focused coping. This form of coping includes things like making plans (setting goals), prioritising, putting off other things that are perhaps more enjoyable but less critical and taking direct action to deal with a tough situation.

Emotion-Focused Coping

Managing emotions is an important part of resilience.  During times of stress we are inevitably more prone to worry or feelings of anxiety and it’s important to manage these emotions proactively. There are many ways to do this, but some approaches are more effective than others.  Resilient people tend to accept their problems, see the positive side of things (e.g. they find ways of learning from adversity) and find plenty of time for humour and relaxation (even during busy times).  Less helpful ways of managing emotions include, denying we have a problem, avoiding the situation or person and escaping using alcohol or drugs.  All of these things can bring short-term relief, but don’t usually solve the problem in the long-term. 

Positive Beliefs

Last, but not least, are positive beliefs. In the US particularly, they have championed for some time the benefits of having a 'positive mental attitude' and for good reason. There are at least five attitudes or beliefs that are associated with resilience:

  • Optimism
  • Personal control
  • Commitment
  • Challenge
  • Self-belief (or self-efficacy)

Cultivating these beliefs helps build your resilience. Working on them regularly will make sure you’ll have them there for you when you need them most.

Resilience - TOP TIP

Being Resilient is often down to keeping a sense of perspective so a great tip is to manage your perspective or state.
How do you do this? By having many things to focus on and feel good about. This helps make sure that if one area is not so strong, the others can help compensate and maintain a sense of all round balance. The more things in your life that you value or support the more they can take the strain when one area becomes challenging.

This can also apply to ways of being resilient. Making sure we build all 6 pillars of resilience means that when one pillars is feeling challenged, other areas of resilience can help support us. So for instance when we don't have close friends around to help us in tough times, having strong self-belief and positive attitude can make big difference.


Six Pillars of Resilience Model - (C) 2010 -2015 Gimmack/Critchlow.

Other references: 
Csikszentmihalyi, M. (2008). Flow: The Psychology of Optimal Experience. Harper Perennial. ISBN-13: 978-0-061339202.