How to Build Resilience

resilience - boatWe live in a busy, information-laden world and often face many, competing demands on our energy and time. How do we build resilience in the face of these pressures? Or, as someone I know eloquently puts it, how do we develop ‘bouncebackability’?

Resilience enables us to cope with pressures and challenges, reduce anxiety and stress, and improve overall performance.  There are a number of ways we can develop our resilience, which I will be sharing with you over the next few weeks. Today, I’d like to share one simple approach that you can use straight away.

Imagine you are in a rowing boat on a lake. You are rowing along, just enjoying yourself.

The next thing you know, you’ve hit a rock which you didn’t see under the surface of the water.  Crash!

Now, if you’d rowed on the lake the previous week, you’d have been fine.  It had rained a lot, and the level of water in the lake was much higher. You would have glided right over the rock. As it is, the rock has caused some damage to your boat and you have to row quickly for the shore.

I wonder what it is that pushes your water level down, so your resilience is lower and you deal less well with challenges and pressure?

For me, it tends to be lack of sleep, working too late, committing to too many things at once, and conflict.

Now think about what it is that pushes your water level up – the things that strengthen your resilience and coping mechanisms.

This might include eating healthily, exercise, being with friends or family, keeping up your hobbies and interests, having enough rest, and so on.

The trick then is to identify ways in which you can reduce the impact of the downward pressure, and maximise the upward pressure – the ways in which you can build your resilience.

Have a go now, with something you currently are challenged by and find difficult to cope with:

The Water Level Approach

1. What is the particular challenge you are facing?

2. What are the factors that have a negative impact on your ability to deal with this challenge?

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resilience rowing boat

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3. What are the factors that could have a positive impact on your ability to deal with this challenge?

4. Next, consider if there are any downward pressures that you can remove or reduce.

5. Are there any upward forces that you can give more attention to or use more?

6. Now choose one downward pressure and one upwards force that you will act on straight away, to strengthen your resilience.

Let me know how you get on – and what difference it makes to you!

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