Resilience // Part II - Hands-on Steps to Strengthen your own Resilience
Updated: Jun 7, 2021
This is the second blogpost out of three in my series on RESILIENCE. See the first post “Resilience – Adapting well in the Face of Hardship” here
So, how can you actively train and strengthen your own resilience? As stated in the first post of this series, (psychological) resilience is a holistic concept, involving our individual actions, emotions and thoughts. I want to provide you with some simple, easy-to-integrate-in-your-daily-life steps. The method involves two steps (the Awareness- and the Action- or Energy-Step) and four dimensions: Meaning – Body – Emotions – Thoughts
1) First Step – Awareness
Allow bringing yourself to a quiet, relatively undisturbed space and ask yourself the following questions, one after another:
How is my current state in my four dimensions, Meaning – Body – Emotions – Thoughts, in this very moment? Assess what is there, without judging it or yourself. In which of these dimensions do you feel quite well, which dimensions leave potential for an improved well-being? That means, press the “PAUSE”-Button, especially when you feel nervousness/anxiety, or an overload of stress. Allow your feelings, thoughts etc. to be there, and check out the informational content they convey for you. But, try not to delve too long in this state – as soon as you get some clearer idea of your emotions, body state and thoughts in this very moment, go over to step two. For some people, it may help to physically provide themselves with an object that reminds them to take these short time-outs, may it be a talisman or a folded origami-figure with the four dimensions written on it.
2) Second Step – Action- or Energy-Level
Think about concrete actions you can do right now/in the next few hours to improve your dimensions where you don’t feel quite well yet. Some Examples: --> Body: Take a short walk in your lunch break. Breathe (consciously) ten times deeply in and out. --> Thoughts: One exercise is to change your perspective – If it’s, for instance, this criticism from your colleague in the team meeting that bothers you, ask yourself – ‘What would my best friend say about it?’ Or: ‘How would I evaluate this situation in six months?’ --> Feelings: A very helpful exercise is “Name it to tame it” - Really listen to your feelings and try to actually name what you feel: anger, frustration, tenseness, doubt, sadness, distraction, … --> Meaning: Ask yourself – What can I do right now (and/or in the near future), that my actions would be (more) aligned with my values/my sense of meaning? These exercises help you to get in better connection with yourself. We are often so busy, that we learn to oppress “unwanted” feelings or thoughts. In the long term, this can make it difficult to actually understand what they want to tell us, because we stopped to actually listen to ourselves. But, with these simple actions, you can step by step bring more positive emotions into your day-to-day life, which can help you to balance out stress.
To create and strengthen a more sustainable resilience, it is helpful to take a bit more quiet quality Me-Time and ask yourself, alongside with the five columns of the PERMA-model:
What needs to be in my life that I feel balanced & fulfilled? What is missing that would make me feel even better? Create yourself a plan on how you want to strengthen your five columns. Which exact measures/actions will you take to achieve the goals set up in your personal plan? It is important to set up goals that are SMART – specific, measurable, achievable, realistic and time-bound. Tell yourself for example: “I want to run twice a week for 20-30 min each.” – instead of: “I want to exercise more.” The more precise you set your goals, the better you can evaluate if you are actually accomplishing them, or whether they might be too unrealistic for you and need to be adapted in a second step. You can do this alone, or with the help of a good friend or a coach. In any way, it helps to share your effort with others, so they can friendly remind you of the goals you want to accomplish. And, never forget to celebrate your successes!