Updated: Jul 25, 2020
I’ve spent a lot of time lately working with clients to help improve their resilience and positive thinking. Coronavirus is affecting everyone, whether they have been furloughed, are home educating, vulnerable, or front line workers who have found themselves suddenly risking their lives every day by caring for people in hospitals or the community.
Increased pressures, uncertainty, lack of control, change and isolation has a huge impact on us. Our strength and resilience are likely to be being stretched beyond recognition at the moment. If you’re anything like me, some days will be worse that others. You may feel on top of things one day but then have a sudden dip and feel wobbly or overwhelmed the next.
Why are some people more adept at managing in this crisis that others? Just like a muscle in our body, resilience is something we can strengthen and improve and there’s no better time to be working out our resilience muscles than right now.
What do we mean by resilience?
It’s the ability to keep going in the face of adversity and manage our negative emotions effectively. It’s about being able to flex and adapt to life’s disruptions. We see it in nature all the time, the resilient tree that keeps growing despite its harsh conditions.
Our resilience builds as we face everyday challenges and learn how to overcome them as we go through life. In childhood we learn how to deal with knock backs, friendships, disappointments, and failures, as adults we face the challenges of redundancy, relationship breakdowns, business failures etc.
Some of us face more set backs and challenges than others and each experience helps us build our resilience muscles.
I love this model (below) from AIM leadership. Our resilience grows when we’re stretched outside of our comfort zone. We also need to be mindful of when the stretch is too far and we're approaching terrors edge!
In addition to the usual life experience that helps build our resilience, much research has been done over the years to identify key areas that can have a positive or negative impact on our personal resilience. The resilience wheel below (adapted from Beyond Coaching and Julie Hickton) shows these areas.
Perspective - How good are you at seeing things from another perspective?
Support /Connection – How effective are you at supporting yourself, being your own best friend? How connected are you to others? Able to ask for and offer support to others?
Optimism – Are you generally a glass half full or a glass half empty person? Optimistic people are more resilient.
Energy Management – How good are you at managing your own energy levels, and refueling when you need to?
Emotional Self Control – How effective are you at managing your emotions? Do you find yourself losing your temper and flying off the handle or perhaps being moody and withdrawn?
Humour – How often are you able to see the funny side of things, or use humour to defuse a situation?
Self-efficacy – How much control do you feel you have in your life, to make your own choices at work, or home?
Reflect on your own strengths in these areas and mark yourself on a scale of 1-10 in each of the sections.
So what can you do about it?
Here are some simple tips and techniques and in brackets one or two of the areas of resilience these can help with:
Take Deep Breaths (emotional self-control/energy management)
Acknowledge and name your emotions (emotional self-control)
Connect with nature – go for a walk (energy management/perspective)
Listen to music/ podcast (energy management/humour)
Do some physical exercise, get out of breath (energy management/emotional self-control)
Remember a time when you were resilience in the past, How can this help you now? (perspective)
What do others do? Can you try it for yourself? (perspective)
Connect with others, organise a phone or video call (support/connection/ humour)
Take time off to re-charge (energy management)
Hot bath or shower (energy management)
Start a gratitude journal – write 3 positive things that happen each day (perspective/optimism)
Be your own best friend (Support/ perspective)
Focus on what you can control not what you can’t (self-efficacy)
Practice meditation / mindfulness (perspective/emotional self-control)
Develop and keep to a routine (self-efficacy)
These are simple workout tips to help strengthen your resilience muscles, but like any new exercise regime, they need to be done regularly and consistently have an effect. It takes commitment and motivation to develop new routines and habits.
One simple way to check in with your emotions is this ‘Jelly Baby’ tree. Each day think about which Jelly baby best reflects how you’re feeling. This is also great to use with kids, family members and colleagues!
What simple change can you make today to start to strengthen your resilience muscles?
I’m running a free online resilience workshop on 26th May.
Book your place here.