Resilience is probably THE word of 2020. It's on everyone's lips, and minds, and it's probably never been so important. As a society, we have not had to confront such fear, uncertainty, change, restriction, boredom, for many many decades - nothing of this significant has ever been asked of my generation. With COVID 19, we've been asked to make huge changes, with no idea of when things will 'get back to normal'. It took a long of extra mental and often physical strength - and resilience is the reason some people are able to give this extra push, and thrive.
Resilience is defined as the ability to react positively to stress and hardship.
But often, we don't think about resilience until it is too late. Until we are already in 'over our heads'. Especially now, in moments of great change, it makes sense to think about resilience proactively - that is, to always be paying some energy forward.
"Like building a muscle, increasing your resilience takes time and intentionality. Focusing on four core components—connection, wellness, healthy thinking, and meaning—can empower you to withstand and learn from difficult and traumatic experiences." -APA
So how can you increase resilience?
The American Psychology Association says it boils down to four components - connection, wellness, healthy thinking and meaning.
Health and wellness seem obvious right? If you're not healthy, you probably can't sustain longer periods of stress or hardship. What's perhaps less obvious, but really interesting is the idea that MEANING or PURPOSE is a necessary building block to resilience.
This obviously resonates with me. From my personal experience, I can definitely say that I when I feel I am working towards something, a goal, a mission, a higher purpose, the work is so much easier, it often doesn't even feel like work. The search for meaning is central to feelings of well-being, this question 'what is it all for?'. It's not just my experience, studies have found that "The existence of a moral compass or an internal belief system guiding values and ethics is commonly shared among resilient individuals."
I've spent the last months actively building my resilience, and feel ready to take on the world.
My Top Ten for Resilience Building
- Take care of your body. Your body is the temple for your soul. Feed it well, water it enough and make sure to give it sleep.
- Take care of your soul - care for your mind, your feelings, your emotional well-being. Set aside time for this every day and be diligent about it. It can be meditation, journalling, yoga, taking a bath - whatever feeds your soul.
- Move your body - regular movement and sports are proven mood lifters! It's not just about stretching your muscles, or staying in shape - it's chemical - exercise boosts mood, and overall health.
- Get in nature - we are ultimately come from nature, and with our fast-paced city life, can often forget it. Walk in a park, let your feet touch grass, look at the water.
- You are not an island - build and maintain friendships and community. Think about who is important to you and actively tend to these relationships. These people will be there for you, when you need them.
- Think on your why, your purpose - what are you passionate about? What makes your heart sing? What work would you do for no money? Can you align your actions to serve this purpose?
- Connect to something bigger - Ask : How can I serve? When we act in service of someone or something else, we can also connect to something bigger, which gives meaning and purpose.
- Create habits, structures, goals - sometimes when everything is crazy and uncertain (ie: when we need resilience) it's the small things that we can hold on to for security. Like - Wednesday is clean sheets day, or Monday evening is yoga class, or each day from 6.30-6.45 you will sit in meditation. I can so strongly recommend creating a morning routine, that it gets its own blog post.
- Reflection and gratitude - what things are going right? What small things are you grateful for? Be conscious of these things, and direct your thoughts to them - this will bring you in a positive state of mind and increase high frequency emotions.
- Future highs - think something you look forward to in the future, and make plans for achieving it.
The important part, is to start now. You never know when you will get more thrown at you, then you think you can handle. Build your resilience muscle, so you know what to do, when life gives you lemons.