Posted on 26th July 2021 at 09:35
We all have those days when we feel like giving in, taking a break or finding a quiet space away from it all. We feel a bit burnt out, or we think we’ll never see the end of the current work project or the end of lock-down and a return to some pre-covid normality. We’ve all been there, and sometimes we feel we’ll never get to where we want to be.
Resilience is a natural, innate coping mechanism we are born with, however, we do need to nurture and develop it . We don’t think about it, but it is there in those times when we plough through a task or situation, adrenalin kicks in and we focus our minds to overcome the challenge in front of us. But sometimes, something unexpected happens and often it's the smallest thing, the proverbial “straw that broke the camel’s back” and suddenly we feel we can’t cope, or we’re just not able to see the wood for the trees and we just can’t deal with the current situation. If you’ve ever felt like that, you are not alone. Everyone experiences this feeling at some time in their lives. We are all different, and something that is easy for me to cope with, may be difficult for someone else and vice versa. We all have different thresholds for stress and different coping mechanisms and strategies. As individuals we all have things we feel we can easily do, or not do. Some people are afraid of heights or are reserved or shy in group settings, while others relish or thrive in these settings. We have or strengths and weaknesses, and there are scenarios that are a welcome challenge for us or just plain scare us. How we cope and react will be different.
So let’s take a look at some ways to build resilience, the coping mechanism that is often referred to as being “like a rubber ball”, that ability to “bounce back” or more importantly “bounce forward”. To bounce forward, is to acknowledge your ability to thrive and grow as you tackle the challenge, taking you to a forward “better position” than you were at before.
Resilience is about taking the first step forward even if it's a small step. It's about the journey and the steps along the way, measuring your progress through each step, seeing your achievements at each stage, rather than setting the measurement as the final step or end result.
Resilience means asking others for help. We all need family, friends and colleagues and to develop strong supportive relationships and connections. Friendships exist on many plains and is shown to reduce stress and increase an individual’s lifespan. Start by taking time to say “hello” to co-workers in the workplace. If you are working virtually, suggest a zoom or MS teams lunch or coffee break and build you’re social connections virtually until such time as you can meet face to face. Call a friend or meet for a coffee, it's about maintaining those social connections.
Be kind to yourself. Taking care of yourself is one of those topics that is front and centre with a lot of people right now. Taking exercise, getting a good amount of sleep and a balanced food intake are all really important. We often get little sleep during the week and think we can catch up at the weekend, but our bodies don’t operate like that. We need to get on average 8 hours a night for our bodies to regenerate after the day’s activities. Having a glass of wine or two before bed to relax us can result in poorer quality sleep, shorter sleep cycles and sleep disruption, so we feel more tired the following day. Eating late at night or taking too much caffeine also impacts on our overall sleep, health and wellbeing. Take breaks during the day, a proper lunchbreak away from the desk including a 15 minute walk if you can to refresh the mind and body. Shut down the computer, email on your phone and have a device free zone after the work day ends is good practice and allows our brains and bodies to relax. A short 10 minute relaxation or meditation before bed is another great way to destress at the end of the day.
Resilience is believing in yourself and changing the narrative we create for ourselves. Do I say “I’ll never be able to pass that exam”, or do I say “if I study for one hour a night for the next three weeks I’ll pass the exam”?. If I want to run rather than walk for exercise do I say “I’ll never manage to run for 30 minutes” or do I say “if I start by running for one minute in every ten minutes’ walk, in six weeks I’ll be able to run for thirty minutes straight”? It's all about changing the dialogue and outlining the steps to the end goal, taking it one step at a time rather than focusing on the end goal and believing we’ll never achieve it. Focus on achieving each milestone of the journey and acknowledge your achievement at each stage and you will not only build resilience but you’ll also have a much better chance of reaching the end goal.
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