Resilience – what is it?

Welcome to resilience, a place to enjoy a laugh, find inspiration, and foster resilience. Each page resources you to weather the Covid Crisis and come through stronger, smarter and joyful. We’re here to help and we will come through this together.

Resilience – what is it?

Resilience is the ability to bounce back from hard times. It’s something that we learn to do. Resilience is choosing to focus on what is good even when life is bent out of shape. Our brain is wired to allow us to choose our focus. What we focus our attention on creates our thoughts and feelings. When we focus on things that are out of our control, we feel angry or frustrated or helpless. We can’t control what’s happening around us, but we can choose to focus on what’s good.

Tools for focusing on the good:

Ask yourself: what are 5 things I’m grateful for right now? The little things we take for granted, if noticed, create positive feelings and lift our mood. You can expand this tool by keeping a gratitude list or even a gratitude notebook. When your thoughts are pulling you down, choose to focus on what is good. Your mood will soon lift.

A trip down memory lane:

When we focus our attention on happy memories, we produce positive endorphins (body chemicals) that can help to lift our mood. Now is a great time to dig out digital photos or (dinosaur age) albums of times we’ve been happy and joyful. To take this tool still further, imagine yourself in the photo. Focus on the memory, including tiny details – what did the sun feel like on your skin? Who was with you? What did you hear/see/notice? This tool helps us to feel connected to a positive past, and to feel connected to the family and friends we remember.

Change = anxiety, worry and stress.

Feeling stressed and anxious, finding you worry a lot, is natural in the midst of a world-wide crisis. Even though everyone responds differently to stress, everyone does indeed respond. Different responses are the reason some of us think we are weird, unusual or defective when we react the way we do in a crisis. Comparing ourselves to others is unhelpful, and leads to us (usually) feeling worse. Most of us struggle with change and the world around us is definitely changing. Many of us are frustrated and don’t want to or don’t know how to adjust to the new rules that confine us, caution us and restrict our usual freedoms. While we know this will pass, and life will once again be good, feeling controlled creates a sense of helplessness and even panic.

Here is a tool to help:

Acceptance does not change the situation, but it takes the fight and worry out of life. Acceptance lowers stress and stops the sensations of worry and panic affecting you. The Serenity Prayer has helped many people over many generations to focus attention on accepting what needs to be accepted.

Text Box: O God and heavenly Father, grant to us the serenity of mind to accept that which cannot be changed; courage to change that which can be changed, and wisdom to know the one from the other.
R. Niebuhr

Confused by change or accepting of uncertainty?

Many of us find it hard to tolerate uncertainty; unpredictability and the unknown are seen as circumstances to be avoided AT ALL COSTS. This attitude causes us to worry and adds stress to our lives. We justify worry as a way of preparing for the worst. Worrying makes us think that we can find a way to control things and reduce uncertainty. Really? Think back over times you have felt worried. How many times did the worst happen? Right now, is worry likely to solve the current situation, or does it simply make life harder?

Biology is not our friend when we worry because we pump adrenaline and cortisol into the body. These biochemicals are meant to prepare us to take action, but when the threat is internal (in our head and due to worry) the body prepares itself to fight a threat which is not real (or at least cannot be attacked by a body primed for fight or flight). Our muscles feel tense, our breath comes quickly and we shallow breathe. Dry mouth and rapid heartbeat is common. There are some things we can do to reduce the biochemical cascade and calm the body.

  1. Challenge the worry about uncertainty; is it possible to be certain about everything in life?
  2. Check your thinking: do you tend to predict bad outcomes in times of uncertainty? This is called catastrophizing, and definitely pumps more adrenaline into your body.
  3. Practice being non-judgmental of your thoughts, approach with kind curiosity, noticing how the thought affects your body. Curiosity turns off the fight/flight system.
  4. Let the thought go, taking a deep breath and blowing it gently out, letting the thought go with the breath.
  5. Do something kind for yourself – or for someone else. Or buy yourself a bottle of bubble liquid and a wand, and practice blowing away the worrying thoughts.
Text Box: Don’t worry – be happy
What did you enjoy as a child? 
Be playful, do things that brought you joy as a child