Resilience can be thought about as the level of our own ability and capacity to manage short and long term challenging events.
Resilience does not have to mean we feel capable, ready, or able to cope with difficult events all the time. In fact, during times of stress, crisis, and emotional and mental upheaval, our resilience levels can diminish, leaving us feeling vulnerable and less able to cope. The ongoing compromises and restrictions during lockdown can feel relentless, and this reduces our resilience reserves, mood, and overall feeling of wellbeing.
Human beings are able to cope with and survive a lot of challenges and adversity. The important thing to remember is that we all have a level of resilience all of the time, even if stress and crisis may have left it feeling diminished. We need to look after and nourish our resilience before, during, and after challenging events. By consciously developing our levels of resilience ahead of an event it can support us through, helping to maintain us, and can support us to rebuild after the event.
Right now many of us are felling like we’re in turbulent, concerning, and challenging situations, situations that are putting pressure on us and on our resilience. Some of us might be feeling like it’s too much, that we’re ill prepared, and losing hope. Even if challenged and unprepared for crisis we can take control to frame the situation more positively, engage our resilience reserves, and build on them by taking some simple steps:
Be ‘a cara’ to yourself
Practising being ‘a cara’, by being a friend to ourselves can help us to connect with self-compassion, meaning we go a little easier on ourselves and avoid the temptation to feed negative thoughts and beat ourselves up.
What I call my CARA Methodⓒ is a simple way to build and maintain our sense of resilience.
1. Consider how you are feeling. Take a moment to pause and reflect on how we are you feeling.
2. Acknowledge these feelings. Acknowledging difficult or surprising feelings isn’t always easy, but they don’t have to overwhelm you; these are your feelings and you have the opportunity to respond to them.
3. Recognise what you can and can’t do about the situation. Recognition is not giving in, it’s important to be aware of the opportunities and the limitations of the situation, and start forming a view of how you can take advantage of the opportunities to take positive steps forward.
4. Accept the limitations you are facing and then go after the opportunities to develop the steps you are going to take to improve how you are feeling.
These positive steps can be simple pleasures, and might include going for a walk, chatting with a friend, making memories baking treats with the kids, taking a moment to read, or making a cup of tea and sitting for a quiet moment to catch your breath.
Do things that nourish you
To help connect with and build resilience, make a list of the things that ‘nourish’ you. These might include a daily walk, talking to a friend, dancing, music, painting, yoga – the list is endless and it’s yours to create.
If some of those are not available to you right now, then keep it simple and focus on the things that are available to you. Commit to doing one thing a day that brings you nourishment.
A final thought..
Resilience is not the same as hardness, and does not mean we don’t feel pain, anxiety, or overwhelm when times get tough. Resilience means we have the ability to cope with and grow even stronger from our challenges. Simple practices, which I’ll share more on in the coming weeks, can help to build our resilience, and ultimately make change and crisis feel more manageable. Remember, we never lose our resilience, and we can always take active steps to nourish it and help it to grow.