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Six more months of lockdown? Tips for staying resilient during Covid and beyond – Episode #9

This week we have seen some more national changes in the UK in response to the Covid-19 pandemic and so we thought it would be a good time to do an episode about resilience and being adaptable to change.

What Covid-19 particularly has shown us, is that in life, we have to be ready for anything, ready to adapt and accept that there are things out of our control

So we’ve gathered some tips for building resilience and coping with change.

So first of all, what is resilience?

Resilience is all about our own ability to deal with situations – Particularly those which cause us stress or anxiety.

On a day to day basis, we face challenges that the world / life throws at us. However as human beings we are provided with one powerful asset and that is….choice.

You may not be in control of a situation, BUT, you are in control with a choice about how you react to that situation.

When adversity strikes, whether it be loss of your job, an illness, or when you take a big hit that really knocks you off your feet for a while, how fast you get up again depends on a number of things, such as: 

  • how good your support network is; 
  • how solid your self-esteem is; 
  • the extent to which you believe that you can control your own destiny and; 
  • your experiences at overcoming adversity in the past.

Sometimes, you hear resilience referred to as our ability to ‘bounce-back’ or the term “bouncebackability”

The big thing to remember here, is that resilience has to be practiced, it has to be developed over time – and there are lots of ways you can do this.

It can be difficult to retrain your brain to allow you to be more resilient, but you have to put the effort in to really see the benefits. It’s like physical exercise, you have to keep working at it and putting the effort in if you want to improve – it’s the same with your mental health and building resilience.

There are lots of ways you can start to build resilience. Some are smaller, more general changes, others take a bit more work.  The suggestions below are changes that you can make to your lifestyle that might just help you feel more able to cope with pressure and stressful situations.

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Try to seek balance.

We all find from time to time that one particular part of lives can take over everything. Things like our work or taking care of your children, can take up almost all of our time and energy. 

If you find this is happening for you, try to focus some of your energy on other parts of your life, like family, friends or hobbies. It’s not easy, but this can help spread your focus, ease some of the pressures and make everything feel lighter.

Interests and hobbies

Finding an activity that’s completely different from the things causing you stress. This can be a really helpful way to find a way to have a break from everyday pressures.

Find time friends.

When you’ve got a lot on your plate, this might seem hard, but it can help you feel more positive. It doesn’t have to be a difficult conversation – just casually chatting to friends about the things you find difficult can help you keep things in perspective. And you can do the same for them. Laughing and smiling are also known to produce hormones that help you to relax.

Get active.

Taking steps to look after your physical health can help you to look after your mental health and reduce feelings of stress. Even making small changes such as going for a regular walk outside may help.

A change of scenery

Going outside, going to a café for a break – even if it’s just for a short time can really refresh you.

Get enough sleep.

Getting enough sleep can help you feel more able to deal with difficult situations. Stress can often make it difficult to sleep, so be aware of that and take steps to get a better sleep.

Find relaxation techniques.

If you know that a particular activity helps you feel more relaxed, make sure you set aside time to do it.

We love mindfulness and meditation exercises, they are not for everyone but we really enjoy them and there’s lots of them on YouTube or on various fitness apps that can be really helpful. They don’t have to take you a long time either, there are lots that are only 5 – 10 mins to make it easier for you to be able to find time to do it.

Healthy eating.

When you’re stressed and really busy, it can be tempting to skip meals or grab a takeaway or just eat too much of the wrong kind of food. But remember, what you eat, and when you eat, can make a big difference to how well you feel and so it’s important to be aware of this.

Be kinder to yourself.

Learning to be kinder to yourself in general can help you control the amount of pressure you feel in different situations. This is another reminder of your control over how you react to things – take a step back and think about being kinder to yourself – what would you say to a friend or loved one who was going through a similar challenge?

Reward your achievements.

Even small things like finishing a piece of work or making a decision. You could for a walk, treat yourself to food you enjoy, read a book, or simply tell yourself “well done”.

Be proactive.

It’s helpful to acknowledge and accept your emotions during hard times. Ask yourself “What can I do about a problem in my life?” If the problems seem too big to tackle, break them down into manageable pieces. Using some of the other techniques, take each bit at a time and reward yourself at milestones along the way.

Be more assertive.

If people are making unreasonable or unrealistic demands of you, explain to them how you feel and say no. 

Try to resolve conflicts.

Although this can sometimes be hard, one of the most powerful things you can do is to be proactive and speak to the person you feel the conflict with. Whether that be someone at work or a family member, talk to them about problems in your relationship – this can help you find ways to move forward.

Set a goal and move towards it.

Develop some realistic goals and then create small milestones that move you towards it. Make sure you’re doing something regularly, even if it seems like a small thing to keep you going. Rather than focusing on that bigger end goal, ask yourself, “What’s one thing I know I can accomplish today that helps me move in the direction I want to go?”

Embrace healthy thoughts.

Keep things in perspective. How you think can play a significant part in how you feel, and how resilient you are when faced with challenges. 

Try to identify areas of irrational thinking.

Some people have a tendency to catastrophize difficulties or assume the world is out to get you – and if you feel like this, it is really important to try and adopt a more balanced and realistic thinking pattern. 

For instance, if you feel overwhelmed by something in particular, remind yourself that what happened to you isn’t how everything will go in your future, you’re not helpless and you have a choice. 

Like we said before, you may not be able to change a highly stressful situation, but you can change how you interpret and respond to it.

Seeking help

Getting help when you need it is crucial in building your resilience. For lots of people, using their own resources and the kinds of tips we’ve talked about here might be enough for building their resilience. But at times, you might feel stuck but there is plenty of help out there – don’t be afraid to seek it out.

The important thing is to remember you’re not alone on the journey. There’s always someone or somewhere to turn to.

Some helpful places to start

https://www.headspace.com/mindfulness

https://www.bbcgoodfood.com/howto/guide/balanced-diet

https://www.mentalhealth.org.uk/publications/how-sleep-better

https://www.nhs.uk/conditions/stress-anxiety-depression/mental-health-helplines/

https://www.mind.org.uk/information-support/guides-to-support-and-services/seeking-help-for-a-mental-health-problem/where-to-start/

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