Building Resilience in Uncertain Times

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Melanie White

Melanie White

Building resilience in uncertain times

When life becomes uncertain and challenging, it’s a perfect time to measure how resilient we truly are and to take steps to build our resilience.

When you know your level of resilience – your capacity – you can find the most appropriate tools to help you actively develop more resilience so that you can combat stress and live a more harmonious life.

What is resilience?

Resilience is our ability to advance despite adversity.

We are resilient when we can respond to stress in healthy ways and still achieve our goals, growing stronger in the process, and bouncing back from adversity.

If resilience were money, it would be a $50, 000 buffer in your bank account. In other words, resilience isn’t just something you get, it’s something that requires consistent investment.

When faced with stress, some people find themselves turning to food, alcohol, negative thoughts or other unhealthy pursuits which create a downward spiral and erode self-confidence, hope and resilience.

Professional health and wellness coaches are qualified to help people to find healthier ways of dealing with stress and processing emotions, so they can create an upward spiral that builds self-confidence and resilience.

That begs the question; what is it that you need to do in order to build resilience?

The Pillars of Resilience

Psychologists recognise five pillars of resilience that can help you to build an emotional buffer which allows you to thrive in any circumstance.

By actively developing habits in each of these five areas, you will start to build your physical, mental, and emotional resilience.

The pillars, and examples of activities or habits within each pillar, are:

  1. Self-awareness

This involves recognising how we think and respond to stress, and to the general circumstances of life.

  1. Mindfulness

This can be thoughts or activities that bring attention away from fear and negativity and into an appreciation of and gratitude for the present moment.

  1. Self-care

This is any activity that builds physical, mental and emotional wellbeing.

Examples include working out, walking in nature, processing emotions, reading, doing yoga, being outside in the sun, gardening, painting, studying something of interest, worship, spiritual practices, or playing a musical instrument.

  1. Positive relationships

Positive relationships are connections that offer reciprocal support, connection and belonging. They allow you to gain emotional support from others, mutual enjoyment of shared interests, working toward a common purpose or goal, and pleasurable interactions.

Humans are social beings and we have a fundamental need to connect and belong to a tribe in order to thrive. Connection (belonging, right tribe) is a key part of longevity, according to the Blue Zones Project.

  1. Purpose

Purpose involves having meaningful pursuits that answer the question – why am I here?

Purpose can be cultivated through activities such as helping others, being proactive and moving toward goals and anything that creates personal growth and discovery.

How do you get started?

Everyone has a different level of resilience, which could also be called your ‘current capacity.’

On that basis, different resilience-building tools may be more relevant for you than others.

People who are currently at a lower level of resilience (current capacity is low) might start with simpler and less demanding activities to build resilience.

For example, if you are highly stressed and not coping well, you might do well to start with:

  • some simple self-care activities like walking, sitting in the sun, engaging in a hobby and eating nutritious food
  • noticing your thoughts and reactions to stressful situations
  • listing the things that you can control
  • getting support from professionals (such as a coach) to talk through what’s going on and develop a toolkit to build resilience.

On the other hand, people who have some capacity might feel able to engage in other activities, such as:

  • more vigorous physical activity
  • identifying and using strengths
  • proactively connecting and supporting others
  • pursuing something meaningful and purposeful.

People with higher levels of resilience (high current capacity) may be focused on maintaining what they have and building it through supporting others. Examples include:

  • a more comprehensive self-care routine
  • being in flow
  • meaningful pursuits
  • collaboration or contribution to others/organisations

In summary, resilience is a buffer that promotes physical, mental and emotional wellbeing and there are a variety of ways to build resilience, that fall within 5 main pillars.

Everyone can do something to build resilience and gain a buffer that allows you to thrive despite uncertain circumstances.

To get started, be mindful of your current capacity and start where you are right now, with realistic and achievable activities that will build a solid foundation of resilience going forward.

You may like to seek the services of a Professional Coach or other qualified health professional.

References

Buettner, D. Power 9® Blue Zones Website, accessed 4.8.20 https://www.bluezones.com/2016/11/power-9/

Palmiter, Dr D et. al., 2012. Building Your Resilience. American Psychological Association website, accessed 4.8.20. https://www.apa.org/topics/resilience

Resilience. Bouncebackproject.org website accessed 4.8.20. https://www.bouncebackproject.org/resilience

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