Our invaluable Resilience workshops have proved increasingly popular with Elevate clients over the past 18 months, so we’d like to share with you some of our top tips for ways to bring resilience to your day to day life (and first off, what does resilience even mean?!)
Elevate founder and positive psychologist Lucy Faulks explains that resilience doesn’t mean keeping on going and keeping on going like a Duracell Bunny; ‘It’s our ability to overcome adversities, to bounce back from set backs (not ignore them) and grow in the face of them (not step over them!). To learn about ourselves and to use those insights moving forward. It’s about recognising the things that help us to negate stress and ensuring that we’re doing more of those things every day – making sure our tanks are full so to speak, so we have more energy and resources and can more easily bounce back when we do face adversity.’ she goes on to say ‘and adversity could be something as small as not getting your own way, to something as huge as a relationship break down’.
So how can we be more resilient day to day? Lucy shares 8 of her top tips:
1. Include mindfulness in your day – this doesn’t need to be spending hours meditating. Mindfulness simply means being in the present moment. So it could be spending your lunch break focusing on the food you’re eating, rather than being distracted by your phone or emails, or instead of browsing Instagram on your way to work, observing the things and people on your journey, tuning into your present experience – using our breath is the most simple and accessible way to do this. By becoming more aware and more mindful, we can start to better recognise the helpful and less helpful thoughts that arise in our minds thousands of times a day and respond in a more controlled manner rather than respond on autopilot.
2. Practice optimism – we know that optimists live up to 15 years longer than pessimists and are much better equipped to deal with difficult situations that crop up in every day life. A great way to practice optimism is to write down three things at the end of each day that have gone well (it could be as simple as a nice comment from your boss or a hug you shared with your partner).
3. Start to notice when you’re having negative thoughts and write them down. By allowing ourselves to become taken over by negative thought processes, be it rage, self-criticism, guilt, blame or mind-reading, we react rather than respond to difficult situations. These negative thoughts then drive negative emotions and as a result, negative behaviours. If we’re able to take a step back and recognise the thought – realise that we are not our thoughts, then we can better cope with the situation. But this takes practice! And the first step is simply starting to recognise when these thoughts pop into our head and labelling them.
4. Cultivate a growth mindset – this is a mindset that thrives on challenge and sees failure not as a disaster but as a springboard for growth and to develop our existing abilities. One of the key traits of someone with a growth mindset is that they are open to criticism and see it as a way to improve. So the next time you receive any criticism ask yourself, ‘how can I view this as a chance to develop?’
5. Utilise your support network – it may sound obvious but people with a good network of people around them who they feel they can speak to are much more resilient. We often think of our support network simply as family and friends but it can also include colleagues, ex-colleagues, spiritual or community groups, or perhaps old friends who you may not’ve been in contact with for a while. It can help to write down everyone in your support network and remind yourself of all of the people you can lean on when needed.
6. Recognise your stress symptoms – some people comfort eat or turn to alcohol, some people will retreat and shut themselves away from everyone, or some people will become snappy or irritable. It’s important to start to recognise your own personal symptoms of stress so that you can start to address the causes of the stress before it spirals. Think about the physical and behavioural signs you spot in yourself when you’re particular stressed – what are some of the early signs that you’re feeling stressed?
7. Assess what you can and can’t control – this is essential for staying resilient. If your train is delayed and you’re late for work ask yourself ‘is there anything I can do about this?’ the answer is ‘yes I could’ve got up earlier and got an earlier train to ensure I was at work on time’ but if you’ve already done this and all of your trains are delayed then it’s out of your hands. And by getting worked up over this you won’t be benefiting anyone. Is it in your control if a client at the last minute changes their mind about a piece of work? Potentially if you’ve not made managed their expectations about the piece of work, but if you’ve done everything in your control to do this then by accepting that this is not something you could’ve controlled it will make you surprisingly feel calmer and better able to deal with the situation.
8. Acknowledge your strengths – By learning to recognise what you’re good at you can start to utilise these qualities in harder times. For example, if you’re a great communicator, you can trust that you’ll be able to express yourself and share your difficulties, if you’re really creative, ask yourself how you can use this to your benefit yourself when things get tricky?
As humans we will forever face adversities – big and small – so spending a little time each day, investing in a tool box full of skills and practices unique to us and built on our own self-awareness, strengths, insights and resources, will prove invaluable to our long term happiness and resilience.