Resilience and digging deep ...
The meaning of resilience has really come to the fore over the last few weeks with the Corona-virus. NHS and key workers are absolute champions of this quality selflessly facing such adversity. There have also been positive, heartfelt stories in the press of people surviving the virus against all odds.
‘Although the world is full of suffering, it is also full of the overcoming of it. ‘Helen Keller
So what does resilience actually mean? Dictionary definitions define resilience as:
‘the capacity to recover quickly from difficulties, toughness’ and ‘the ability … to spring back into shape, elasticity’.
It could be argued though that resilience is more than bouncing back… it could be argued that resilience is advancing despite adversity and not just returning to the status quo. This has certainly received a fair bit of attention in social media within the current climate. Some people who now find themselves with more time, perhaps having been furloughed, are embracing opportunities for personal development, taking up a new interest etc. Whilst others juggling numerous work and family commitments are happy just to survive!
I find myself with one foot in both camps – home schooling my two primary school children whilst absolutely determined to listen, learn and grow during these unprecedented times…even if just a little. Some days run pretty smoothly although I wouldn’t say like a well-oiled engine! Others are tough.
Whatever your ‘take’ on the current global pandemic and whatever your personal circumstance, we all need strategies to help us to get through this and move forward.
So what can we do to further bolster our resilience?
Sleep – Getting enough Zzz during this challenging time is oh so important. I have to profess that last week I over-indulged in a late Netflix series, which had a bit of a knock on to my morning routine. The challenge is to ensure that occasional late nights don’t become the new norm. This week, we’ve brought everything forward a little and I definitely feel more ‘on it’. Sleep provides your brain with the downtime to process information from the day… to relax, recharge and refresh. It is fundamental to your overall wellbeing, concentration, learning and productivity.
Exercise – We’ve been so fortunate with this gorgeous weather and it has been uplifting. We’ve had some fantastic walks and trips to the park and my daughter has even learnt to ride her bike this week telling me that I’m a distraction and mastering this new skill in about 5 minutes. She even told me she was ‘doing it already’ –the power of visualisation! I’m also planning some outdoor time just for me where I can be more present and mindful of my surroundings. Bird song is such a pleasure at this time of year. The kids have been roaring with laughter doing their Joe Wickes with Dad and what a positive way to start the day. Exercise increases oxygen to the brain and boosts our immune system. It improves mood and sleep, reduces stress and anxiety and builds our resilience.
Nutrition – It’s so tempting to reward ourselves with treats … perhaps like me you’re still nibbling the last few bits of your Easter Egg... Anyhow whatever your ‘thing’ don’t forget to drink plenty of water and eat food that your body and mind will thank you for. Diet can increase your energy levels so you’re ready to take on the challenges of the day.
Gratitude – It has been so lovely to see people reflecting on the highlights of their day over recent weeks. Gratitude is such a powerful force and impacts positively on our mental wellbeing boosting our mood and cultivating our awareness of the good things even when they find hard to find. Some people keep gratitude journals or lists and others simply take a moment to reflect on their day. I love to talk with the kids at our ‘I’m happy’s’ at breakfast time setting the tone for the day.
Tenancity – If we wake up every morning with realistic optimism just how impactful is that? We can resonate with this experience and I’m sure those times also when just getting up and out was challenging. Persistance and sheer determination, like that demonstrated by my daughter the day she learnt to ride her bike, is how we rise to challenges and learn. It’s not about failures and success but learning and mastery.
Breathing, meditation & mindfulness – There is well founded concern being voiced by charities, such as MIND and the Mental Health Foundation about the already apparent knock on that isolation is having on anxiety levels and mental wellbeing. Breathing, mediation and mindfulness are positive ways of calming our thoughts and anchoring us in the present. The 7/11 breathing technique where we breathe in to the count of 7 though your nose and out to the count of 11 through your mouth is one my favourites.
Control & composure – The simple fact is that there are some things that we can control and some things we can’t. We can’t control the traffic. We can’t control the weather. What we can do though is choose our behaviours, thoughts and actions. We can choose to use our time productively in the car listening to a podcast or calling ahead to let someone know we are held up. If it rains, we can choose to put our on wellies on and jump in muddy puddles or perhaps we might opt to watch a film instead. Responding rather than reacting to external stimuli and so regulating our emotions leaves us with a sense of acceptance and calm.
Purpose – What is your purpose or WHY? What is your vision? What are your values (those things you hold dear to you)? Knowing what is important to you can help you to make informed choices about how you invest your time and energy. Covid-19 will undoubtedly act as a trigger for some prompting them to review and reflect on where they are now and what they want for the future… an opportunity to reset. Having a vision, purpose, values and goals is motivating and gives us a reason to get out of bed in the morning.
Inner power – What are your inner powers? How can you use these strengths right now? Your power is more sustainable than your position or status, which is external and prone to environmental change. Being resourceful and drawing on this and experiences of where we have done something similar in the past will help us to problem solve and adapt.
Self compassion - Be mindful of how you are feeling and reserve judgement. Accept yourself for who you are and be kind. You are not alone.
Interdependence – We may not be able to meet with family and friends but there are opportunities for ‘virtual connection’. It has been so fantastic to see, hear and partake in G&T, Fizz, Quizz and Birthday Parties … We are also witnessing communities pulling together to support those at risk of hunger and loneliness. We are demonstrating strength, humanity and compassion recognising that we are stronger with such support networks and relationships.
A couple of quotes have really struck a chord with me:
‘It’s your reaction to adversity, not adversity itself that determines how your life’s story will develop.’ Dieter F. Uchtdorf
‘The oak fought the wind and was broken, the willow bent when it must and survived.’ Robert Jordan
Resilience isn’t something we are born with or without. It’s not a personality trait but a skill we sharpen up other time. This skill is fundamental to our whole life journey and not just when we hit a bump in the road.
Stay well and do reach out to me if you would like to take advantage of my FREE 30 minute telephone/Zoom/Skype/What’s App consultations. You might just appreciate a friendly chat over a brew or perhaps you’d like to find out more about how coaching can help you. Whatever your motivation, my virtual door is very much open.
With gratitude, Oriel x