What is Resilience?

I don’t know about you, but when I was growing up, no one told me that life would be easy.

And it certainly isn’t! Life is full of challenges both big and small, and every day we seem to come up with new challenges to deal with. 

It can feel never ending, can’t it?

Those challenges only seem to have gotten bigger and more frequent since Lockdown

We’ve all been affected by being in lockdown in one way or another. 

Life has been put on hold. 

You’re in lockdown and your life is on hold, your partner has been furloughed and you’re home schooling the kids. Every day feels like a mountain to climb. 

You can’t even “nip to the shops” easily anymore. Does this sound familiar to you?

You set off in your car like usual but then you have to join the queue to get in. You’re carefully observing the 2 metre social distancing rule but notice that others aren’t being so considerate.

What on earth are they doing!! Don’t they know we’re in the middle of a pandemic!

As you mutter under your breath, you feel your stress levels start to rise. This shopping is taking far too long, and you need to be at home soon for a parcel delivery. You can feel yourself getting tense as your hands grip the trolley handle harder. 

You’re in the queue to pay, finally, but an elderly lady is right at the front chatting to the checkout operator without a care in the world. 

Come on! Haven’t you got anything better to do with your time, for goodness’ sake!

You’ve made it. You’ve paid and you make your way back to your car to see that now there’s a queue for getting out of the car park. There’s been an accident further up the road and you can see the blue lights of the emergency services. Goodness knows how long this is going to take.

What about my parcel?!

The traffic starts to move forward and just as you’re about to leave, the traffic lights turn red. Then your other half calls to ask if you got the toilet paper. 

It wasn’t on the list! So no, I haven’t got the toilet paper!

By the time you get home you feel irritable, short tempered and worn out! So many things to think about, so many thoughts whirring round in the mind, so many thoughts! 

Your resilience can affect how stressful that shopping trip would be for you

Hopefully not every shopping trip turns out to be such a nightmare for you, but it certainly shows how easily those challenges can stack on top of each other and affect your mental health and stress levels.

Take a second to think about your resilience during a recent shopping trip, on a scale of 1 to 10 with 1 being low and 10 being high. 

Were you able to remain calm and collected or did you feel as tense, irritable and wound up as the scenario you’ve just visualised?

How resilient are you at the moment in general?

What is resilience?

OK, let’s take a step back and qualify what we mean by resilience:

It is your ability to bounce back quickly when something challenging or difficult happens.  

For me resilience is so important both for work and for home life to overcome the everyday challenges together with those bigger ones that we often have little control over. 

Coronavirus is a huge challenge with no work, no family, less money, no holidays, threat of illness and maybe even death. 

Life is challenging.

Why do we assume it would be any different? It’s life, not a novel with a happy ending, it’s what happens to each and every one of us and it will throw us off track.

How can you become more resilient?

There are lots of different aspects to being resilient and being able to bounce back quickly when we’re confronted by challenges. 

Here are my top tips to help you build and strengthen your resilience. 

1 – Practice being optimistic

We’re born with a negative bias, perceiving things as a “threat” can help us stay safe and alive but this can take over to the point that we only focus on the negative stuff around us. 

We tend to find what we focus on, so if you’re looking for the negative that’s what you’re going to find in your life! Being aware of this and training your brain to be more positive can make a huge difference. 

Take a few minutes each day to focus on what is good in your life right now and what you’re grateful for. Practising this skill will help you find more positivity in your life and being optimistic will get easier!

2 – Build a support network

Having a support network is important when you’re trying to navigate difficult times. 

We all need a listening ear from time to time but be mindful of the company you choose to keep. Research has shown that we become like the 5 people we spend the most time with, so choose wisely!

3 – Learn emotional control

Do you tend to react to things on the spur of the moment?

Most of our thoughts and reactions come directly from the subconscious, so we tend to operate on “autopilot” most of the time until something difficult or new comes along that your brain doesn’t know how to handle.

Being aware of how you react to these challenges and understanding if they’re helpful in dealing with them, or just a short-term coping mechanism that doesn’t really help in the long term (like getting angry). 

Training your brain to step back before you react and look at the whole picture can help you develop a more rational perspective. Mindfulness is particularly helpful at bringing us back to the present moment and away from those “what if” thoughts that anxiety from a difficult situation can create.

4 – Keep on top of your self-care

Do you look after yourself as well as you look after everyone else around you?

How well do you look after your mind? 

It’s arguably the most precious part of your body and controls what you do every day, how you think and feel, and yes, how resilient you are. 

Taking care of yourself is important for a healthy mind and that means watching what you eat and taking some exercise (so do go out and exercise during lockdown!)

Some pampering “me time” is important too, even if it’s just an hour spent alone curled up with a good book and your favourite snack.

When you’re resilient, that shopping trip can turn out very different

You’re in lockdown and your life is on hold, your partner has been furloughed and you’re home schooling the kids, challenging? Yes, but how great to spend some quality time with the family. 

You need to go shopping, so off you go in the car to your local supermarket and join the queue to get in. You start to do your shopping only to notice that people aren’t keeping to the 2 metre distancing.

I wonder why they’re not adhering to the rules, probably miles away, lost in thought, I can’t change what they do but I can make sure I keep my distance. 

You join the queue to pay for your shopping and remember you need to be home for midday as you’ve got a parcel being delivered, must get a move on. 

I’m sure my partner will hear the door; it will be fine. 

There is an elderly lady in front of you chatting away to the checkout operator without a care in the world, she probably lives alone and doesn’t see many people, it must be difficult living alone. You get through the checkout and make your way to your car only to see that there’s a queue to get out of the car park as there has been an accident a bit further up the road.

Thank goodness it’s not me in the ambulance and I can go home and not to the hospital.

The traffic goes and you start to move forwards towards the lights when they turn red as your other half rings you and asks if you’ve got the toilet roll. 

Oh, never mind, there’s nothing I can do about it and I’m not going to let it spoil my day.

By the time you get home you feel calm, relaxed and ready for a good old chat with your partner who took the parcel in. What a lovely morning.

We can’t change what happens to us, but we can change the way we react. 

If you would like to know more about how we can help you to build your resilience, drop me an email and let’s have a chat over a virtual coffee.