5 ways to boost your resilience

Mar 18, 2020

When it comes to mental wellbeing, you often hear the term resilience. But what is it and why is it important?

Resilience is your ability to cope with change and adversity. By strengthening your resilience, you’re better able to maintain your mental wellbeing through all of life's ups and downs.

Being resilient doesn’t mean that you won't ever feel overwhelmed, under pressure or stressed. But it does mean that your behaviours, habits and emotional health allow you to handle that pressure more effectively, reducing its negative impact on your overall wellbeing.

The good news is that resilience is something we can all learn. We’re all capable of establishing new behaviours and habits that promote resilience and empower us to remain calm, confident, healthy and effective in the face of new challenges.

Here are 5 ways to boost your resilience:

1. Find a new perspective

As humans, we have a natural negative bias, which means we tend to assume the worst about every new situation. This was a useful natural survival instinct thousands of years ago when dangers and predators lurked around every corner. Nowadays however it can mean we’re more likely to feel anxious or stressed about new situations and makes it difficult to see or make the most of new opportunities.

The next time you find yourself dwelling on the negatives, ask yourself the following questions:

  • Is there another way of looking at this situation?
  • Do I need more information?
  • How will I benefit from the way I am thinking/feeling/behaving?

You might find that when you allow for a more positive interpretation of events, things naturally feel a little easier.

2. Get the rest your body needs

Without sufficient sleep, we find it more difficult to challenge our natural negative bias. We’re also more likely to make poor decisions, be irritable and struggle with poor concentration. It’s not hard to see why a good night’s sleep is crucial for a more calm, considered and resilient approach.

But it's not just sleeping that matters. It’s important to take regular breaks throughout the day. These brief pauses allow your brain space for more creative thinking, help you retain and process information and improve your focus. This clarity and productivity helps you to feel in control and reduces stress.

As little as 5 minutes away from your computer or phone every 90 minutes or so will make a big difference to how you feel.

3. Fuel your brain and your body

What we eat and drink can have a big impact on our resilience levels. Simple things like staying hydrated, reducing your caffeine intake and eating three balanced meals each day can help. But it’s also important to pay attention to changes in your blood sugar levels, which can affect your mood and your energy levels.

Eating slow-release carbohydrates such as oats, brown rice and quinoa help to stabilise your blood sugar levels, meaning you’ll avoid the energy slump, loss of focus and irritability that often accompanies fast food and snack fuelled sugar crashes.

Top tip: Dark leafy green vegetables, nuts and seeds contain high levels of magnesium, which helps to regulate the production of the stress hormone cortisol and assists with the release of GABA, a calming neurotransmitter.

4. Celebrate your success

Noting down your achievements or things that have gone well and made you happy has several benefits for your emotional health. Reflecting on our successes improves self-confidence and helps us to feel positive about ourselves.

Writing down your achievements can also serve as a tangible reminder of your personal strengths whenever you feel insecure about a new situation.

5. Practice mindfulness

The underlying principle of mindfulness is that we can simply observe and notice our thoughts and feelings without letting them impact our wellbeing. This focus on emotional regulation and self-control is essential for resilience. With regular practice, mindfulness can help you approach new and challenging situations with a sense of calm and clarity.

Article reproduced with the kind permission of CABA, the organisation providing lifelong support to ICAEW members, ACA students and their close family around the world.