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Building resilience

Resilience is the ability to adapt to challenging circumstances without it taking too large an impact on our mental well-being. It has been shown that there are recognised steps that we can all take that can boost our ability to deal with pressure and reduce the adverse impact of stress on our lives.

Simple changes can make a big difference when it comes to building resilience:

Be assertive

Calmly, clearly and politely let people know if you believe they are being unreasonable or exerting undue pressure on you. Say no to things, if you feel overwhelmed. Be assertive in your approach and seek additional support if necessary.

Resolve conflict, if you can. Although extremely difficult, facing up to issues can help everyone find ways to move forward.

It isn’t always the case, but there should be a supportive structure at work. Your line manager, human resources (HR) department, union representatives, or employee assistance schemes – should be there for you. Stress is not a sign of weakness.

Additional resources can be found here:

At university or college, there should be support available from student services, your tutors, or the student union.

Close family and friends can often offer great non-judgemental love and support.

Relaxation techniques can be helpful

Take time out for yourself and do some of the things that promote a feeling of relaxation and well-being.

Some people find a country walk, exercise, having a bath, listening to music and a wealth of other things work well for them to help restore their mental health.

Identify what works for you and schedule time in your diary to make it happen.

Learn a new skill, hobby or take up a specific interest

When people feel stressed, they often feel exhausted and don’t want to make the effort to socialise or do new things. Pushing yourself to try something new or to pursue a hobby you enjoy can be extremely therapeutic and can also be a good way to meet new people.

Reconnect with friends

More than just on Facebook, pick up the phone, or meet them for a walk or cup of tea. Spending time with other people usually makes people feel better. However, if you are feeling a little vulnerable, select the friends you meet with carefully. Some friends can be needy and a drain on your energy, it is not those that you need at the moment, spend time instead with people that boost your mood. Chatting to friends about the things you are struggling with can help give a sense of perspective – and it works both ways too! It has been proven that laughing and smiling is contagious and releases hormones that help you feel better too.

Look carefully at your work, life, family balance and make yourself more me time!

It is easy to lose your identity in the business of life when working, or as a spouse, partner, parent or child. Try and establish your own identity and carve time out for yourself.  Sometimes it feels impossible and selfish to try and take time for yourself. However, it is critical and everyone will benefit in the long-term.

Be kind to yourself and don’t stress about being stressed!

Forgive yourself if you feel you have made a mistake, or don’t live up to your own high expectations. Try to remember that nobody’s perfect and putting additional pressure on yourself doesn’t help.

Do things that give you a sense of achievement

Set yourself small, achievable goals and celebrate your achievements.

Work smarter not harder

Without procrastinating, try and establish what things can wait, or someone else can do. This will take some of the pressure off of you. The saying is that if you want something done, you should ask a busy person! However, everyone has their limits and when the busy person says no, other people step up – or things simply might not happen!

Ensure you are caring for your physical health too

Our mental and physical health are often inextricably linked. If we begin to feel run down, we often feel more lethargic and less able to do things and this takes its health on our mental well-being too.

Sleep to build resilience

Sleep enables the body and mind to rest and heal. Getting enough sleep is critical. It is often a vicious circle – stress can often make it difficult to sleep, but lack of sleep makes it harder for you to cope with stress.

Exercise to build resilience

Whatever your capabilities, it is vital to be active. Being physically active boosts our physical and mental health. Start with small lifestyle changes, even a short walk or some gentle gardening can begin to boost your mood.

Eat healthily

When busy or stressed, it is tempting to skip meals or crave sweet, starchy food. There is a proven link between having a healthy diet and physical and mental well-being.

Get away

Take a break or holiday. Time away from your normal routine can help you relax and feel refreshed. Even spending a day in a different place can help you feel more able to face stress.

Finally, remember you don’t have to cope with it alone – a problem shared is often a problem put into perspective.

Mind have helpful resources https://www.mind.org.uk/information-support/types-of-mental-health-problems/stress/developing-resilience/#collapsef06cf

Emma Hammett

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