5 Habits to Build Resilience

If you get to catch some of the interviews we’ve done in our Common Room PH YouTube channel, you’ll know that many of the makers featured have talked about their small business struggles, including pivoting during the pandemic and keeping their business alive. One of the traits they have in common—resilience. 

Being able to bounce back from difficult situations instead of throwing in the towel is essential to success. It seems like a no-brainer: You stay on course and don’t pull back the moment you face a wall and there’s a chance to reap the rewards of your labor. As Common Room’s Roma Agsalud shared in this interview on business struggles during lockdown, “continue with your plans, even if it’s not showing any results. Not all the seeds you planted won’t bear fruits.”

Having a resilient mindset though doesn’t always come easy. It takes a few habits to cultivate resilience, so that when you face failure or crushing disappointment, you know you’ll still keep moving forward.

1. Going easy on yourself. 

We don’t mean don’t take risks or not put yourself out there. Certainly, do those things (more on that later). But when you make a mistake or experience a setback, it’s best to “practice positive self-talk.” We’re allowed to make mistakes so reassure yourself of that. Take comfort also knowing that oftentimes, it all works out in the end. They might sound cliche but they are true and sometimes they’re just what you need to hear to pick yourself up and try again.  

2. Taking a step back.

When artist Hannah Armada of Studio Haebi attended a 2-day bootcamp on auditing one’s brand to pivot your business, she was told that there wasn’t anything special about her brand. Understandably, she felt hurt and her confidence was shot. 

While she felt sorry for herself at first, Hannah started asking herself some hard questions. She prepared a spreadsheet of what the brand strategist asked her and turned it into a sort of journal, writing down all her thoughts, particularly on her reasons for starting Studio Haebi in the first place. “I just gave myself and my brand a space. It’s okay to take time to figure out where you’re going as a brand,” she shares in the 10 Hard Lesson on Rebranding interview. 

Being able to journal (yes, even in a spreadsheet) or getting into the habit of creating a gratitude list even when you’re not facing a setback, can help you keep things in perspective when those dark days do come.    


3. Taking care of you.

Crochet jewelry designer Nike Nadal-Reyes has a full plate raising three kids, managing a household and her crochet accessories business, Nyuki. As a mompreneur, she considers that the challenge for her is to make time for her business after all the family and home tasks are done. But that doesn’t mean all her hours are solely divided between her family and her business. During the pandemic, she shares in an interview that she sets aside time for herself at night by working out. “It helps keep my energy up, because I need the energy and that’s my me time.”

Whether it’s working out at home, doing several laps in the village pool, or taking regular walks around your neighborhood, setting aside time to be active is a form of self-care. Many studies have already seen how almost any form of exercise helps with relieving stress. So when you do experience a crisis, you already have a physical activity to help you cope with anxiety or stress that may arise from it. 

4. Getting comfortable with discomfort.

Not being afraid of stepping out of your comfort zone is also a resilience-building habit. Whenever we do this—from volunteering to do something at work that you’ve never done before or just trying out a new hobby—we get a chance to grow. However, this often involves some level of discomfort and growing pains. 

When Common Room was struggling during the lockdown, Roma shared in the interview how exhausting it was becoming—their savings were getting depleted and they were doing everything since their staff couldn’t work in the stores. She and her team held on because of all the makers and employees depending on them. Roma discerned, “It’s not really what’s comfortable for you.”

5. Getting help from others.

Some of us get into the unhealthy habit of doing everything ourselves. For instance, if you’ve turned your passion project into a business, it’s easy to think that everything will get done faster if you just do them all yourself since you know your brand the best. In a Forbes article about building resilience, it highlights the importance of cooperation (vs resistance) when faced with an obstacle. One of the key takeaways: how we spend our energy is key to resilience.

Kimberly Tiam-Lee of Pulseras by Kim, in a previous interview with Common Room, shared that when she finally hired somebody to help her in her minimalist custom jewelry business, “It did wonders for my mental and emotional health. It also gave me space and room to think about what’s next for the business.” 

The more we let go of the idea that we can control everything—either by doing everything on our own or micromanaging—the more energy we have to focus on finding solutions when problems come our way.


Words by Mabel David-Pilar
Mabel has been a writer and editor for many publications including a teen fashion mag and a book on the most endangered Philippine trees. She spends most of her time writing, illustrating, stalking Common Room’s online shop, and making ferments. Together with her sisters, she co-created startersisters.com to celebrate fermentation and eating more plants.