This blog, written by our HWBI Ninja Lou, focuses on how we can boost our resilience and attend to our health and wellbeing. She also draws attention to team resilience ….. we are more likely to be resilient together after all.
Psychologists define resilience as the process of adapting well in the face of adversity, trauma, tragedy, threats or significant sources of stress. As much as it involves “bouncing back” from difficult experiences it can also involve personal growth. “Becoming more resilient not only helps us to get through difficult circumstances it also empowers you to grow and even improve your life along the way” (American Psychological Association).
There are many definitions of Resilience. I recently watched a webinar by the Association of Executive Coaching in partnership with Resilience Engine. They talked about resilience as our adaptability and a measure of resilience as our capacity for change. Robertson and Cooper describe resilience as a combination of personal characteristics and skills “The characteristics which are associated with higher levels of resilience are inherent in our personalities, however, resilience skills can be used to help us adapt our natural style and tendencies”. So, resilience skills can be learned and developed.
So how can we measure our resilience?
There are some really useful tools freely available to help you to measure and understand your resilience. They typically explore 5 common themes including:
The Resilience Engine offers their Resilience Check – In tool which provides you with your resilience level in relation to their Resilience Dynamic and some top resilience enablers. The Resilience Dynamic details 3 levels of Resilience: Breakdown, Break-Even and Breakthrough.
Robertsoncooper offers their i-resilience tool which provides you with a detailed report which covers their 4 key components of resilience which are: Confidence, Purposefulness, Adaptability and Social Support. Tools and resources focussed on these four areas for building resilience are available on the i-resilience portal.
So how can we build our resilience?
The College of Wellbeing offers great tools and tips:
The boat and water mapping tool is a simple and effective tool for mapping factors that influence our resilience. By identifying the negative and positive influences on our resilience we can develop ways to reduce the negative and strengthen the positive.
The SSRI toolkit offers a framework for identifying the tools that we already have available to build our resilience. It is based on the concept that the choices we make and actions we take can have a natural anti-depressant effect. SSRI in this model stands for :
- Strategies i.e. practical things we can do i.e. meditation or attention to diet and exercise
- Strengths i.e. what you can draw upon internally in yourself i.e. courage and determination
- Resources i.e. where can you seek external support i.e. friends and support groups
- Insights i.e. can you look at things differently to help you move forward? i
Everyday Health offers an Everyday Health Assessment which provides you with a resilience score and 9 attributes that can help you develop to become your most resilient self which has been adapted from Dr Sood’s model of resilience. The attributes include internal factors i.e. skills we have or have learned and can better develop such as self-control and self-confidence and external factors such as personal relationship, purpose and meaning and communities and social support.
There are also some really useful guides for building resilience in the era of COVID 19.
An article in Psychology today suggests that acceptance (Hayes et al 2011), self-compassion (Neff 2015) and gratitude (Wood et al 2010) are approaches that can help face challenging times. The author suggests:
- Be open – accept thoughts and feelings instead or of trying to suppress or change them “this doesn’t mean resignation to these thoughts and feelings but recognising that we have those experiences and seeing them for what they are (a thought is just that while a feeling is just that)”
- Be aware – being fully present in the moment instead of being caught up in our thoughts and feelings. One way to help with this is to take time and focus on breathing while noticing one thing with each sense
- Be engaged and active – take time to consider what’s important and take action to bring what’s important closer to you
- Be self-compassionate – be kind to yourself as opposed to judging ourselves “ask yourself what a caring friend or family member might say” next time you find yourself saying critical things to yourself
- Practice gratitude – trying out approaches to gratitude such as journaling about things that you are grateful for can serve as a beacon of hope.
A more recent article from June in Science Direct discusses the urgent need for a focus on resilience during the coronavirus pandemic as “resilience is pivotal to cope with stress and vital to stay in balance”. The authors emphasise that stress and anxiety are normal reactions to the pandemic and stress reactions may include changes in concentration, irritability, anxiety, insomnia, reduced productivity and interpersonal conflict. In addition to the threat of the virus, the quarantine measures increase the stress-related symptoms. To help adapt to the mental health effects they refer to several useful pieces of advice from the resilience literature including:
- Promoting social connectedness as loneliness and social isolation is what makes the crisis different compared to many others
- Planning routine day to day activities and promoting self-care
- Increased attention to exercise and nutrition
- Regular media breaks
- Help people feel in control (one of the findings in stress and resilience research is that the higher the controllability of a stress situation is, the better individuals cope with the situation) for example measures people can take to reduce risk of infection and minimise the spread of disease.
Finally AOD who are experts in team based working have collated some really great resources around team working and resilience.
Over the past 12 weeks, I have found myself consciously and unconsciously adopting some of these practices, however reading about them to write this blog has been a useful reminder of how I can take back some control over my reaction to the multitude of emotions I have experienced and continue to feel during the pandemic. I hope that you find some of this useful too.
Note the photo I have used for this blog is a photo I took early January of a Hellebore in my garden. It summed up to me how resilient they must be to be able to produce these gorgeous flowers through winter!
HWBInspiration co-founders, Su & Claire, are grateful to our Associate HWBI Ninjas for sharing their knowledge, skill and insights.