My tips on being more resilient

I haven’t been well recently. I was floored by a virus for the best part of a week and it’s left me with a cough you’d expect from a 20-a-day B&H smoker.

I had a few sobs here and there; rasping little pity parties for one, but really looked after myself. I slept, took tablets, drank lots of water and rested.

Anyway. It came and went. In many ways I appreciated how well I am when firing on all cylinders.

Back at work I’’ve recently benefited from a day’s insightful and inspiring training on the subject of resilience with author and coach Claire Chidley.

It provoked me into thinking more about personal resilience.

If you are reading this you have probably experienced setbacks, adversity or trauma. We all have. But here you are. Hooray! You are, by virtue of that, a resilient person.

But there are times when it’s goddamn hard because life is tough, often unfair and filled with shit storms.

Resilience is something you need to develop and work at every day to deal with these things and not let the bad stuff dim your shimmering light.

I want to share my tips with you on how to do that. I cannot promise you won’t catch the odd virus, but check them out.

Recognise the triggers that cause you to nose-dive.

It can be a range of things: alcohol, an overloaded work-plan or giving too much of yourself to people who offer little in return as examples. You may notice common situations generate physical responses: raised heart rate, an adrenaline rush or rising panic.

When under stress, the body releases cortisol. Elevated levels can lead to increased risks of depression, mental illness, raised blood pressure, weight gain and a lower immune function. This is bad news. Your body is struggling to cope. Listen to it because once you recognise the cause you can…

Take responsibility.

Don’t hang around expecting someone else to rescue you. They won’t. Passivity will leave you stuck in a whirligig of bitterness, frustration and regret. Say ‘what can I do about this?’ Rather than ‘when will this end for me?’

By playing an active role in making changes you’ll see yourself as a fighter not a victim. Bit by problem-solving bit, piece by confidence-boosting piece, you’ll build a life worth remembering.

Make quality connections.

Surround yourself with people who have your best interests in heart and vice versa. Bonding with others who like, understand and care for you in the same way as you do them is a formidable force for resilience and will provide energy for getting through the difficulties being faced. In the jungle monkeys spend hours grooming each other which reinforces the joy of companionship, social structure and troop. Hold your ‘groomies’ close.

Find your G-spot.

I’m talking gratitude, people!  Your G-spot is the place (or places) that makes you feel thankful. Perhaps it’s hobbies, seeing friends, cuddling a pet, switching off your phone alerts or going to a favourite café. It can be a blend of these too. One of mine? Roaming from tor to tor on Dartmoor like a native pony + great food in a beautiful Devon pub + laughing like a drain = G-spot hit. Take two minutes to appreciate what does it for you – and keep doing it because it’ll power up your resilience.

Accept help and don’t be afraid to ask for it.

By and large humans are caring, compassionate creatures who want to lend a hand. Remember our grooming monkeys? That. You scratch my back and I’ll scratch yours.

It’s OK to be on your own…

The thought of being on my own sent me into a blind panic. Like a drowning person I would reach for whatever flotsam and jetsam happened to be bobbing past (usually a bottle of booze or an unsuitable man) but it didn’t save me. Far from it – I was left feeling all at sea.

My salvation was to stop flailing, cast aside the detritus and swim. I swam for my life. I nurtured a more positive view of myself. I learned to ride the waves on my own rather than rely on useless marine debris that threatened to pull me down.

But know that you are not alone…

Times of stress leave us feeling isolated but we don’t have to cope unaided. The world is full of help – family, friends, work colleagues, specialist organisations, your GP, charities.

If you sat down and thought about it I bet you’ll see you’ve come through some pretty tough times. It’s easy to forget that. Whatever your situation, celebrate your strength and keep going. You’re doing a brilliant job.

All my love

Em x

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I'm a writer, journalist and communications officer based in the South West of England. I write about wellbeing, the outdoors and life in a rural playground.

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