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  • Kat Hounsell

Covid-19 Series: How to be more resilient – Part 1

This is such a big topic, so resilience is coming to you in two stages. In this article we’ll explore what resilience is and then look out for Part 2 containing practical strategies for strengthening your resilience.

The word resilience is often coupled with the phrase ‘bouncing back’, like a coiled spring returning to its original shape after being stretched. However, anyone who has faced any level of challenge or adversity will know first-hand that we can learn from these experiences, so it’s not just about bouncing back, but ‘bouncing bigger’.

In the field of Positive Psychology, the term Post Traumatic Growth is used to describe this phenomenon. It’s an idea that’s been discussed for many years – famously, Viktor Frankl, a Holocaust survivor and Psychiatrist, spoke about what happens when events shake our belief in the world and takeaway the sense that life is controllable…

“When we are no longer able to change a situation, we are challenged to change ourselves.” - Viktor Frankl

So, what is resilience?

Let’s start with what it’s not. It’s not about endurance, it’s not about toughing it out for as long as possible without a break or asking for help, and it’s certainly not about being immune to negative feelings. These unhelpful beliefs can actually stop us from building true resilience as they limit our emotional agility.

Ask Google and you’ll discover many more helpful definitions. One that resonates for me is the following from the Strozzi Leadership Institute:

“Resilience is the ability to holistically renew ourselves during and after oppressive or traumatic experiences. It is the ability to shift ourselves from an alert response to a calmed, cohesive state with a positive imagination for the future.”

Another question we might ask is, how resilient am I?

It’s only when we’re faced with obstacles, stress or threats that our resilience, or lack of it, shows itself. Reflecting on how we have reacted in recent months to the COVID-19 crisis will tell us about our current levels of resilience as individuals, as organisations, and as a wider industry and community.

As individuals, our life experiences up until now will play a hugely important role – each of us has developed mindsets, tools and tactics along life’s path that we put into action when times get tough. True resilience starts with awareness & acceptance of what’s working, and what’s not – ask yourself:

  • What are my current coping strategies?

  • Do they help me feel calm and have hope for the future?

  • Which are working for the current challenges I’m facing in life? Which are not?

Next time we’ll be exploring new mindset shifts and actions we can take to strengthen our resiliency. As a warm-up you can have a go at changing your inner narrative:

Step 1 - Think back over what’s happened to you between March up until now.

Step 2 - Choose an event that affected you personally and which you found particularly difficult or upsetting. Step 3 - Now look at that event through a new lens and challenge yourself to find 3 positives within it, write these down.

For more on resilience, Sheryl Sandberg and Adam Grant have released a free (long!) excerpt of their book ‘Option B’, take a look at:

Finding life difficult? You’re #NotAlone.

Read here for where to access professional support.


This article was originally written for The Drinks Trust as part of their COVID-19 updates. If you haven't heard of this wonderful charity then do pay their website a visit and see how you can support, or be supported, as a member of the drinks and hospitality industry.

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