Covid-19 Series: How to be more resilient – Part 2
This is such a big topic, so resilience is coming to you in two stages. In this article we’ll look at practical strategies and actions for strengthening your resilience. You may first wish to rewind to Part 1 and see what resilience is!
With so many ways to strengthen our resilience, it can be helpful to sort the approaches into three pillars:
1. Holistic wellbeing
2. In the moment helping coping strategies
3. Knowing ourselves and shifting our patterns
When times get tough, sometimes the first activities we drop are those that can actually help us to thrive. Taking care of our wellbeing can help reduce the impact of stressful situations, and when it comes to resilience, holistic wellbeing is our sturdy foundation.
Research shows that a particular focus on our purposeful and social wellbeing is key.
For more on holistic wellbeing, take a look at everyday actions for thriving and the related wellbeing tips.
In the moment helpful coping strategies
What helps each of us re-discover a state of centred calm will be different, so I encourage you to start experimenting and find what helps you in various situations. The following are 10 evidence-based approaches for dealing with high stress and emotive experiences as they happen:
2. Name the dominant emotion(s) you’re experiencing
3. Move, go for a walk, get a change of scene, dance around your kitchen
4. Be self-compassionate, remind yourself:
“This is a moment of suffering, suffering is a part of life, may I be kind to myself.”
You can adapt the wording of phrase to suit your situation.
5. Give yourself some self-encouragement:
“I can handle this”
6. Make a list of what is in and what is out of your control, remind yourself:
“If what I try doesn’t work, I try something else.”
7. Grab paper and a pen - Free-write whatever comes to mind for 3-5 minutes
8. Find optimism, hope and even humour in the moment – what’s the funny side?
9. Gratitude, ask yourself:
“What’s one thing I’m grateful for in my life right now?”
10. Create a plan of action, this may involve asking for help
Knowing ourselves and shifting our patterns
This is where resilience work gets gritty and also incredibly rewarding.
When we raise our self-awareness and acceptance of our patterns (of thinking, feeling and behaving), we are presented with a choice around whether we want to stick with these patterns, or choose new ways of living & being.
Over time this choice increases our ‘internal locus of control’. An internal locus of control means that we attribute our successes to our own efforts and abilities rather than seeing our fate being determined largely by external forces. This in turn makes us more motivated to take actions aligned to our personal values… and more resilient.
So how can you get started with this?
There’s always the option to work with a professional coach or therapist – their job is to facilitate your exploration at this deeper level. This can be a pricey option, so the good news is we all have the ability to self-coach too.
Here are two exercises that relate specifically to resilience – grab your notebook and pen!
Exercise 1 - Learning from a challenging time
Bring to mind a challenging time or situation from the past.
Who and what helped you through?
What positive things have you learnt about yourself as result?
How has that helped you deal with subsequent challenges?
How could this help you now?
Exercise 2 - The 3 Ps After spending decades studying how people deal with setbacks and challenges, psychologists have found that the three P’s can stunt recovery: (1) personalisation—the belief that the problem is yourself fuelling self-criticism (2) permanence—the belief that the bad situation will last forever (3) pervasiveness—the belief that the bad situation will affect all areas of your life
Using an example of losing our job, this could sound like:
(1) I’m not a good enough person, there is something wrong with me
(2) I will never find another job as good as that one
(3) I’m failing as a parent
Instead, we can challenge ourselves to shift our thinking to be ‘impersonal, impermanent, and specific’ e.g.
(1) The company is struggling and my skill-set doesn’t fit with the current needs
(2) I will find another job which will stretch me in new ways
(3) This is a knock in my work life, but does not need to impact my other relationships and activities
In times of high stress and adversity, which of the 3Ps do you experience?
How could you shift your mindset to allow for greater resilience?
Finding life difficult? You’re #NotAlone.
Read here for where to access professional support.