5 Great ways to strengthen your resilience
"Calm seas never made a skilled sailor" (Old English Proverb)
Resilience can be defined as the ability to bounce back from adversity. It's not about having a trouble free life or never having any difficulties to overcome. Indeed it could be argued that it would be impossible to develop resilience without ever encountering any problems. Developing and strengthening our resilience is important because without it, we may wilt and collapse when we come under pressure. But with resilience we can continue to grow and prosper, even when all the conditions are against us.
1. Looking after yourself
The best time to prepare for difficulties is not when they are upon you but when life is good and relatively calm. And the best form of preparation is to look after yourself properly: Eating a healthy diet, getting plenty of exercise and a good night's sleep, and finding the best ways for you, as an individual, to relax and unwind. For some it might be creative activities, for others playing sport, for others yoga or meditation, and for others again a long walk by the sea or in the countryside. There is no right or wrong way to relax. What is important is to find out what works for you and to practice it regularly, so that you can quickly use that activity to de-stress whenever required.
2. Need a friend? Be a friend!
Faced with difficult times, it is important to have friends and family members that you can turn to for comfort, support and a listening ear. But who can you turn to if you have not nurtured your relationships in happier times? It is important never to be so busy with work, hobbies or other activities that you don't set aside time to be with those who mean the most to you - not just supporting them when they are in need, but enjoying their company and sharing fun and enjoyable times with them. Building strong family and social networks, helping others to be more resilient, is one of the most important ways of strengthening your own resilience.
3. Embrace change
Life's greatest challenges - the times when we most need to be resilient - are generally a time of significant change (such as following an accident, redundancy, divorce or the death of a loved one). It is almost certain to be difficult to get through such times. But it is much more difficult if we have already built up an aversion to change - all change - which is something that we all have a tendency to do as we get older. However, this attitude of resistance to change is not inevitable. Viewing growth and change as a natural part of a healthy and fulfilling life; and embracing change as it comes along (such as new working practices, music, technology and culture) will not only make life more rewarding on a daily basis, it will better prepare us for the times when the change we are facing is truly challenging.
4. Remember: Stress is not a disorder
There is a relatively new phrase that has become part of our everyday language: Post Traumatic Stress Disorder or PTSD. It describes a concerning condition in which the stress caused by a tragic event lingers for a long time (even years) afterwards. It is a very real and distressing condition that is well named. However, by linking the two words "Stress" and "Disorder" together it has had the unfortunate consequence of suggesting to many people that stress is itself a disorder. It isn't. When something bad happens to you or someone close to you, you are designed to feel stressed - overflowing with emotions such as sadness, anxiety and possibly anger. You would not be human if you didn't feel bad, but in all probability you will feel better after a while. In fact, you might be surprised to learn that post-traumatic growth - coming back from a setback stronger than you were before - is actually a lot more common than PTSD. Just like high winds encourage plants and trees to grow strong roots and flexible stems, so in the majority of cases, we too are made stronger by the experiences we live through.
5. Develop a growth mindset
Not only does life constantly change around you (Point 3) but you too can and will change, throughout your life. You can change your beliefs. You can change your job, your actions and your activities. You can change your friends and your social circle. You can change where you live and where you visit. It's your life and you are in charge of it! Knowing this to be true and acting on that basis is called having a growth mindset. However, some people, unfortunately come to falsely believe that they can't change themselves at all and this is called having a fixed mindset. They will use phrases such as "it's just the way I am" or "I can't control my emotions" or "I can't resist temptation". But none of these expressions are ever true! Having a growth mindset, knowing that whatever happens to you in your life, you can adjust, make changes, and grow through it is the central characteristic of resilience. Know and believe that now and you will be able to get through anything!!
How Coaching Can Help
Ultimately I believe that the purpose of life is to be happy and fulfilled. But sometimes things go wrong, and bad or difficult things happen at some point in every life. Coaching can not only help to prepare us for that inevitability, it can be extremely effective in helping us to move on from traumatic events, and to re-start or re-build our lives. More than anything, coaching is about hope, optimism and the empowering benefits of change.
Life Coach Directory is not responsible for the articles published by members. The views expressed are those of the member who wrote the article.
About Paul Hemphill
Paul Hemphill is a leadership and well-being coach who specialises in bringing a positive psychology approach to his coaching. Over the last five years he has helped literally hundreds of clients to restart their lives, develop new levels of confidence, change careers, improve their work/life balance, or become better leaders and managers.