Building resilience in times of adversity

How are you doing today?

Feeling overwhelmed, lost or uncertain? Anxious about work, family, yourself? Unsettled or saddened by recent events and how long they might last?

You’re not alone.

But the good news is that, even in times of adversity, there’s much that we can do to build our reserves of resilience: our ability to cope with change, stress and challenge.

Here are 3 ways to build resilience in these extraordinary times:

  • STOP
    The best way to start building resilience is to stop, pause, and breathe. Take some time to notice and acknowledge how you’re feeling physically and emotionally. Give yourself permission to feel it all. Setting aside just 5 minutes each day to grab a pen and write down what’s on your mind can help you to notice patterns in your thoughts and feelings and give you a regular opportunity for noticing and processing any feelings of worry or anxiety. So what’s the voice inside your head saying to you? What are you feeling in mind and in body? And what do you need to hear? This last question can provide you with some positive affirmations to help you when the negative thoughts pop into your head.
  • TAKE BACK CONTROL
    When the world around us feels out of control, it’s easy for us to feel the same way. Other people’s words, choices, ideas, actions, thoughts and beliefs are flooding our lives at the moment over social media and the news – and they can be overwhelming. But they are not within our control. And it can be liberating to let them go. Instead, choose to focus on you and what you can control – your words, choices, ideas, actions, thoughts, and beliefs. What can you choose to start doing? What can you choose to stop doing? What can you to choose to continue doing?
  • MAKE TIME FOR WHAT YOU NEED
    Now, more than ever, we need to make time for self-care. This is not about spa visits and holidays (neither of which are a possibility for us at the moment anyway) but about making time for anything that tops up our reserves of resilience.

It starts with the basics – sleep, diet, exercise and time outside. If you’re finding it hard to sleep at the moment, remember that even a few minutes of rest and relaxation can help. Do your best to eat well based on whatever you can get hold of. Make the most of the plethora of exercise classes that are now online. And even if you’re self-isolating, crack open a window, breathe in some fresh air and listen to the birdsong.

What else makes you feel good? Music, dancing, colour, time outside, reading, connecting with friends and family (and now enjoying a chat and a cuppa over WhatsApp, FaceTime or Zoom) – these are a few of my favourite things. What’s on your list?

Last but not least, make time to practise gratitude. Every week in my Facebook Group, Resilient Women, we make time to focus on the positives and share what we’re grateful for – and in times of adversity, it can help us to remember the simple things that are most important to us. Start or end your day by noting down 3 things you’re grateful for; or start a jar of gratitude into which you can put the little things that you’re noticing – a great cup of coffee, the sun shining, a good catch-up with a friend. They can all help to shift our mindset towards the positive.

Pam Cottman is a coach and resilience trainer. https://pamcottman.com

A former Assistant Headteacher, Pam spent 14 years working with students, staff, parents and governors to support the development of young people and her teams. She now runs her own business, supporting individuals, schools and organisations to reach their potential by building resilience: a clear understanding of values and self-awareness; a growth mindset; confidence in mind and body; and the self-care tools to cope with change, challenge and stress.

Pam is also a resilience coach at Transition Peak. Transition Peak is an online career coaching and training portal that provides immediate practical support for staff who are passing through redundancy and retirement.

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