Understanding how to build your resilience and what drains it

Resilience is our ability to adapt to change, our capacity for change.  It’s normal for resilience goes to go up and down but since the pandemic started, it’s taking a battering as there’s been so much uncertainty around us.

Something we can do in times like this is pay more attention to how we fill up our resilience tank – the reserves we have for when we have to adapt to change more. we’ve all been keeping going for months now, so our tanks are lower. This means that when something happens unexpectedly, we’re less resilient and don’t respond to the thing that takes us by surprise in a positive way.

How do you know when your resilience is drained? You feel stuck, tired, lacking in confidence, over reacting to things, repeating patterns of behaviour or actions that don’t resolve anything.

One thing you can do to boost your tank is work on what’s called your adaptive capacity. This is something people talk about in relation to high performance but it’s as relevant to home life as it is to work or sporting careers.

People with the highest resilience give 35% of their time to adaptive capacity in normal periods, according to research by the Jenny Campbell and the Resilience Engine. The reason they prioritise adaptive capacity is because it fills your resilience tank. And when you have high levels of resilience, you are able to grasp context to see things clearly for what they are. You feel refreshed physically emotionally spiritually, and you are able to pace yourself. In other words, able to live fully as your whole self.

35% of your time is a huge amount if you think about it – if you sleep for 7-8 hours, wake for 16-17 hours, it means investing 5 of those hours into building your resilience. I know that might seem madness right now with home schooling, working from home, lack of social interaction, financial worries and everything else.

But here are some things you can do. To help build your resilience it helps to focus on these 4 things:

  • being present int he moment – getting into a flow state which i’ll talk more about next week
  • building your energy levels – what makes you feel great, alive, refreshed
  • learning – this means you are growing and feel you are growing
  • and purpose – feeling that what you do has meaning

I know a lot of people are reevaluating right now and what once gave them meaning no longer feels it serves them. the pandemic has been a massive wake up call but it’s in the tiny moments of each day that we’re draining our resilience and ability to cope with change right now. It’s also in these tiny moments when we can rebuild ourselves.

Before you look after others, it’s so important to give yourself the time and energy you need to understand your needs, to become more self aware.

It can be helpful to make a list of what you are doing in those 4 areas – being present, building your energy, learning and living with purpose. And also to look at where you are getting in your way – if you’re not feeling refreshed, what could be causing that? Taking breaks, turning your phone off, going outside for exercise, spending time talking to loved ones, visioning how you want things to be in your life once you come out of lockdown, creating a mood board to bring that vision to life.

What are the barriers to resilience?

According to research from The Resilience Engine, there are also 3 barriers that cause bad stress and drain your resilience:

  • weak or no boundaries – and therefore feeling insecure
  • being busy busy busy – overestimating your capacity
  • do it yourselfers – not asking for help

If you feel you lack boundaries – it comes down to knowing what you need and asserting those needs within all kinds of relationships, whether personal or professional. It’s a hard one to admit, because weak boundaries come about when we have low self worth. When we journey to self acceptance and loving ourselves, to truly believe we are enough as Brene Brown puts it, then you can start to state what you really need to the world. This can be physical and emotional boundaries. There’s a lot of work goes into understanding those boundaries, but if you feel resentful or stressed, ask yourself did I make my boundaries clear.

If being busy busy busy resonates with you – this comes from feeling great when people need you, feeling good because you are a doer and you like to get stuff done. But you need balance – you need to be not just do. Busy busy busy people typically have more resilience than people with weak boundaries but they then commit to doing more and more. Sleep less, consume too much caffeine and sugar and then are unable to stop and rest. How many of you have worked really hard only to go on holiday or take a long weekend and become ill as soon as your body stops. Being busy all the time is bad for your immune system because it become over stimulated by the pressure. When you stop, it can finally stop and lets you get sick.

Think about what gives you energy, what takes it away and remember the 4 enablers of resilience – being present, feeding your energy, learning/growing, and living with purpose.

The last one is DIY – do it yourself. There’s been an increase in conversation about vulnerability and courage in recent years thanks to Brene Brown and her work with high performance leadership in Silicon Valley. In the world of high performance, leaders needed to be seen to know what they were doing. But with the research from Brene and others, we know the most successful people choose in each situation the are in how independent or dependent they need to be. You need to be able to cope with both and be aware of what a situation demands – to determine what you need most from it. Should ou go it alone or ask for help.

So in a nutshell – you need to be addressing two areas to build your resilience – look at what is draining your resilience – weak boundaries, busy busy busy or do it yourself. And on a daily basis build up your resilience by focusing on putting more in your reserve tank – being present, feeding your energy physically mentally emotionally and spiritually, learning and growing and living with purpose and meaning.

It’s so important we focus on our resilience especially right now because unless you build up your resilience, not matter what goals you set for yourself and dreams you want to fulfil, you will end up without the capacity for change and ability to adapt to change needed to make real progress in life.

Any questions, message me here.