Thriving Under Pressure

How can two people experience the same stressful event and react in incredibly different ways?  What explains the difference between stress thrivers and non-thrivers?

Research shows that some individuals possess a set of resilience skills and traits that allows them to flourish in response to stress.

Thriving Under Pressure TEDx Talk

“Resilience is what gives people the psychological strength to cope with stress. They understand that setbacks happen and sometimes life is hard and painful. They still experience the emotional pain, grief, and sense of loss that comes after a tragedy, but their mental outlook allows them to work through such feelings and recover.” Source: Living Well


Building Stress Resilience

Stress hardiness is a pathway to resilience – the ability to remain healthy and strong during stressful and challenging times.

Hardy individuals transform stressful circumstances into growth opportunities by reframing adversity and taking direct action in response to stress.


Bouncing Back from Adversity

In this video presentation, I describe the 3 key components of stress hardiness including:

1. Control

– Focusing on the things you can change and letting go of the things you can’t.

E.g., “You hold the key.”


2. Challenge

– Reframing stressful challenges as opportunities for growth.

E.g., “Strength Training.

3. Commitment

– Envisioning a higher purpose above and beyond the immediate stressor.

E.g., “Ask yourself why you started.


Each component a critical factor in cultivating the ability to bounce back and thrive under pressure.

Can Stress Hardiness be Learned?

Yes! Research demonstrates that not only can stress hardiness be learned, it has wide-ranging applications in health and wellness, including:

1. Lowering test anxiety in high school students.

2. Reducing perceived stress in college students.

3. Protecting against war-related stress in Army Reserve forces.

4. Improving resilience and coping skills in stressed out professionals.

Watch this live event where I teach guidance counsellors and high school teachers the skills for helping students become more resilient in stressful times.

Thriving Under Pressure

TEDx Talk:

High School Teachers:

41 thoughts on “Thriving Under Pressure

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  1. Dr, I just wanted to thank you for posting this video and for the information on your blog. I have been overwhelmed (and very much struggling) with a very seriously bad hostile work environment and I honestly have not handled it well. It has put me in a dark place and I have been doing so much research to learn how to get myself back to how I was mentally 7 years ago, when I was able to rebound and think of failures as temporary set backs. This video was a big help, as has been your page. Thank you.

    1. I am grateful to hear that my video helped. I so admire that despite all the major challenges you are going through at work, you continue to search for solutions. (This is resilience personified.) Hope today is a brighter day.

  2. Fantastic post.

    Human nature is so complex and I often wonder how a certain episode may have completely different reactions from individuals. Interesting to explore more into this to probably gain better understanding of how people think/feel. My daughter underwent leukemia treatment twice in ten years, first as a five year old and then again as a fifteen year old.

    By the grace of God and medical science she is fine and in college now but our experience during her treatment was varied. Some people would cry hysterically with us comforting them while others would find ways to support us. It is indeed very complex because most couldn’t understand how we could lead normal lives with the life threatening illness in our child while we always believed that she would be fine and ensured as normal a life for her as possible during her chemotherapy sessions.

    I am glad she could go for prom in the evening after chemo in the morning. It made her so determined to live and do well and us to encourage and support her all the way.

    Thanks for the post.

    1. What an incredible role model your daughter is to us all. If anyone knows about thriving under pressure – it’s both of you. Thank you for sharing. Wishing your daughter a lifetime of health & happiness.

    2. How amazing your daughter is and how lucky she is to have such wonderful support around her. Wishing you and your daughter much happiness – you deserve it! x

  3. At 55 having spent years working on ‘positive mindset’, studied NLP, qualified as a hypnotherapist, I thought I’d learned the art of ‘bouncing back’ and then I was ‘pushed’ over and found my tipping point – my body decided to tell me ‘enough is enough’ … Do you think we all have a ‘tipping point’ in the end?

    1. Excellent question re. tipping point. Thanks for asking!

      I would call it more of a “set point” (threshold) than a tipping point. (But we may be talking about 2 distinct concepts here.)

      Based on personal experience, I believe that our ability to cope & thrive under pressure is a lifelong practice. Something that is never mastered – only strengthened.

      Additionally, I think that our thriving threshold is different for every area of our lives. And differs from person-to-person based on strengths, weaknesses, and personal history.

      For example, the more challenging work is for me (high stress threshold) the more I flourish. ❤️📚

      While this is not the case with other areas of my life (low threshold) and thus tend to react (too quickly) when under pressure. 😂😩

      What do you think?

      1. Actually that makes perfect sense to me. For many years, I’ve thrived at work – worked excessively long hours and flourishing under pressure to achieve tight deadlines etc. However, something relatively small challenged my threshold – a bit like the straw that broke the camels back – it came as a bit of a shock as I think I thought I was superwoman.. Now I’m having to dig deep to put the lessons learned over a lifetime and used many times to help others to use for myself… The blog is proving cathartic.. Thanks for your reply!

        1. Thank you Wendy! So wonderful to hear! That was my high hope for this blog.

          Our discussion on this post has stimulated a new idea for a posted called “What’s your stress threshold?”.

          If ok with you, I will include a link to your blog and the general idea of our discussion (not the specifics) in my post.

          Let me know.

          All good – either way!

          Andrea 📝💫😊

          1. Sounds like a brilliant idea Andrea and I’m really pleased to have inspired another brilliant post from you! Link to my blog with pleasure.. Much appreciated! I look forward to reading it in due course.. xx

  4. Hi Andrea. I enjoyed reading this great post again. I think my faith is the ultimate thing that has helped me through the ups and downs of life. Nature has sustained me too and sometimes half an hour in the garden is all I need. 😊

    1. Thanks Brigid! I always love hearing what gives you sustenance. And the beauty of nature is that it’s always there for us. We need only open our eyes & step outside. 🍃🌿

      Wishing you a day filled with daisies! xo

  5. OK! So, Andrea, I haven’t watched the entire video yet because I am unable to contain my level of excitement right now. I don’t reflect on my life much because I am more connected with myself when I stay in The Now. But there are moments like now when I go back to that “I wish you were my experience when I was younger.” I so desperately needed someone like you in my educational and general life experience.

    What you share with others is what I desired to have a complete awareness of, but I wasn’t able to identify it with words. It was a feeling, a knowing, and there wasn’t anyone or anything within my experience at the time to help me be clearer about it. My resilience was born from that vibration of knowing, of being aware of that feeling; I knew I would put the pieces together one day.

    At the same time, you are the exact representation of who I hope to be as a teacher and healer of others. What you do with and for educators, students, and other professionals, is everything I knew/know myself to be. I experience some sense of fulfillment when I am homeschooling my children not only in academics but also in emotional well-being, and also as the counselor or guide for friends and family.

    In watching your video, the spark came back to want to reach others outside of my bubble 😄 and to help ignite the light which is within all. I want to be able to share with others who I am and why I am so in love with her through assisting others to feel the same about themselves.

    Thank you for meeting me on my journey and being in the flow of my alignment. Today, a new(to me)part of me has stepped to the front of the class. Time for show and tell! 👏🏾👏🏾 Thank you🙏🏾🙇🏾‍♀️

      1. I am honored as well. I finished watching your video and now I am an emotional mess! In a positive way.😁😁

  6. Life has taught me beautiful things and it is. I got to know about a way which can reduce stress. A very simple way. And that is, FALLING IN LOVE WITH YOUR WORK. I have already. Depression is the major cause of termination of beautiful lives. Because zombies of stress come from inside and the love of work can act as an angel who can kill them.
    BTW, I hate zombies and I love what you are doing, Ma’am. Thank you.

  7. This is a fascinating topic, and I remember wondering about my own stress response in different situations during my Psych degree when covering the neurological and biological fight/flight responses. It’s strange because some stress to me can energise, motivate and encourage me, whereas in other situations (perhaps where the steps towards working through it aren’t clear or I feel hopeless in terms of the results) can make me struggle. I know I have a problem with stress because I almost try to find it subconsciously, stressing and worrying about anything and everything. It’s certainly a topic that could be explored for a long time and yet one that’s so very important to the lives we live. Great post 🙂

    1. Great insights about your stress response. I love hearing about your own experience as a psychology student.

      Stress is always a topic worth exploring. Something that we need to master again & again & again. This shared UP down experience is what makes us human after all.

      This post might help:

      The famous poet Rumi says that “Love is the bridge between everything”. I would add to his quote by saying: If love is the bridge then (perceived) stress is the roadblock.

      That said, self-awareness is the first step to mastery & you have achieved that in 1000 steps!

  8. Hello Dr Dinardo,
    I love the passion that emanates from you in your talks.
    This was another clear example and it explains why you have named your blog so.
    I’m becoming much stronger in finding the grace in setbacks and challenges and as you suggested, it’s a change in mindset and how we choose to see these as they arise.
    Again, more brilliant words from you, thank you,
    Di 💐💕

    1. Thanks for the encouragement!

      Each time you share what you’ve learned from my posts & videos, you motivate me to keep spreading the word.

      We are all thrivers. We just need someone to shine a spotlight on all the good that exists within & all around us.

      You are that bright light Di.☀️

      1. You are so welcome Dr Dinardo…
        I’m touched that my small comments can mean so much to you.
        Yes, there is certainly a lot of good all around.
        And thank you for your kind words too…They mean so much.
        Wishing you a lovely weekend,
        Di 💐💕

  9. I watched this video a year ago, and just viewed it again. Love the palm tree analogy, I feel I’m like that too, the more challenges, the stronger I’m grounded into my deepest values. It also reminded me to help my children to focus on the things that ARE going right! Thanks for the valuable nuggets of wisdom!

    1. Your comment brings the biggest smile to my face! The connection you continue to make between your greatest challenges & your hard-earned strengths reinforces my own journey from pain to power. We are thrivers. 💥

  10. Great post Andrea. Recently I have found myself disliking my job, I was really bored, I didn’t have much work and the work I did have wasn’t very challenging. I found myself getting stressed out and dreading going to work.

    Then one week I got involved in a new project elsewhere in my company so I had to start that while balancing the handover of my old job. To top it off one of the people I manage started kicking off and having problems. Amazingly I took it in my stride and found myself enjoying my job again. I realised that I prefer to have too much to do than not enough to do!

    1. Wow James! Your real-life example exemplifies both the “control” component of stress hardiness and the “challenge” component.

      You grabbed your job by the horns & changed what was within your control by unexpectedly upping the challenge (less boredom).

      And in the process, you refined your purpose (commitment) and pinpointed your zone of peak performance (also known as flow).


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