‘Resilience’ can feel like an off-putting word, a mud-streaked…climbing-Everest-before-breakfast kind of a word, but to bounce back from Covid, physically, emotionally and economically, it’s something we all need right now.
In order to find resilience strategies which really work, I’ve scoured not just the psychological and therapeutic research, but also a range of extreme life contexts: what it takes to survive a month long run of heckling at the Edinburgh Fringe for example; how to pick yourself up when you’ve crashed out of the Olympics after 4 years’ gruelling work; how to connect compassionately on a Samaritans call at 3 a.m. The good news is, it transpires that resilience is something we can all access.
Here are three powerful, actionable tips:
- Follow the science. When we’re feeling stressed, choosing to do some deep breathing, or to say ‘thank you’ to our anxiety can be the very last thing we feel like doing. The research behind strategies such as these is, however, compelling. Experiment, give the wealth of science-backed tips a go –don’t be put off by your initial preconceptions. Whether it’s wild swimming or ‘meditation for fidgety sceptics’ or watching videos of kittens falling off sofas, find out what works for you.
- Create helpful habits. We actually know a lot of the things we ‘should’ do to build resilience, (eg exercise, adopt a growth mindset, practice gratitude) we just don’t make them a habit. Reassuringly, habit-creation is a learnable skill. For example, planning ‘automatic triggers’ for habits, rewarding yourself for starting action, co-opting an accountability buddy are all highly effective techniques. In the workplace this might mean creating habitual forums. As individuals it might mean making that daily walk or that reflection practice a completely routine part of our diaries.
- Get connected. I find it frustrating that natural selection is often characterised as a battle of winner and loser, survival of the fittest and nastiest. In truth we thrive because we are a social species. It’s our ability to co-operate. We are stronger together. The whole is greater than the sum of its parts. A mentor once encouraged me to access my ‘five a day of nutritious people’ – people who help me feel valued, who help me learn and grow. That’s proved an immensely powerful strategy.
In summary: 2020 opened our eyes to how crucial resilience is. Let’s use 2021 to build and maintain our resilience … safe in the knowledge we don’t have to resort to using ice axes and crampons…
Harriet Beveridge, Executive Coach and Motivational Speaker