Q:What is resilience? A: it’s a term for how well we can respond and adapt to adversity, whether that’s a major event or a tough day at work. This isn’t about putting our fingers in our ears, loudly repeating “La la la” and hoping the nasty thing will just magically disappear. On the contrary, resilience is about squarely facing the situation and deploying our resources to deal with it. Resilience is a skill and like any skill, we can develop it with practice. Now is a good time to start; don’t wait for misfortune to strike. As we seldom know what adversity lies ahead, it’s useful to make building our resilience an ongoing habit. Here are 5 ways to get started.
1. Set realistic goals
Us humans need something to aim for, a sense of purpose, some answers to those ‘why?’ questions. Setting goals, no matter how small, can help us focus on what’s important. It could be to run a 5k, or to finish the working day at a certain time, or to read a book to expand your knowledge on a topic. See my 5 essential goal-setting tips.
2. Dust off distorted thinking
This can show up in many ways; our minds wander off the path of reality. We can jump to false conclusions. Here are a few that often show up:
- Automatically assuming the worst (“they won’t believe me”)
- ‘black-and-white’ thinking (eliminating shades of grey, which is where possibilities can often be found)
- ‘Overgeneralisation’ where we extrapolate one difficult conversation with a colleague to ‘they always say….’ and ‘they never…’.
Find out more about cognitive distortions here, via Positive Psychology.
3. Nurture yourself
In the same way that it makes sense to save some money for a rainy day, it makes sense to nurture ourselves, so we have some resources we can draw on to get through adversity. Here are four ways to do this:
- Have a tech break – turn off notifications. Even better, turn off devices for a while.
- Listen to music that soothes and inspires you.
- Walk in green spaces (if you’d rather walk with a dog but it’s not practical for you to own one, check out Borrow My Doggy).
- Get active in a way that works for you – going for a run, doing a yoga class, swimming or cycling.
4. Build helpful habits
When we adopt helpful habits, what might once have seemed too demanding becomes automatic. Here are some helpful habits to start:
- Develop the habit of noticing when good stuff happens; a kind gesture, a positive stroke from a friend, something that made you smile.
- Keep a journal of your thoughts and feelings – writing them down can help us process them (with an actual pen and paper – typing can feel too much like work).
- Calm your mind with mindfulness meditation.
- Download a monthly calendar from Action For Happiness for daily ideas.
5. Build your support network
Support can come in many forms – people, places and resources:
- Join a supportive group in your professional area.
- Find out if your employer provides an employee assistance scheme.
- Talk with friends and family or ask a colleague for advice.
- Find out more about research on social support via Verywell Mind.
You may find this post useful: ‘How well do you handle setbacks?’
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