It's been an interesting month. All sorts of things have happened which I did not anticipate, and it has offered the opportunity to reflect on the relationship between resilience and wellbeing.
I think of us each having a capacity to absorb things. Say its currently a one metre tall tub. If there is very little going on in life, we may be luxuriating way down in the bottom 10cm, leaving us 90cm of space to absorb more disruption, tension, busy-ness before we reach the edge of our resilience tub and begin to experience symptoms of stress and strain.
If there is a lot happening, our tub may be much fuller, say 70 or 80cm full. Then, it takes much less adversity to fill our capacity completely, and leave us stressed, anxious or low. The worst thing is, once this happens, it is more difficult to drain the tub, and get back to feeling balanced and relaxed with a nice empty tub and lots of space to move in.
The good news is, we do not have a fixed amount of resilience. How many times have you heard people say they did not think they would be able to cope with something they went on to deal with, but then came out the other end having grown and learned about themselves? Our resilience can stretch as life changes, we really can manage much more than we suspect.
So how do you grow your resilience? I believe it is a combination of things:
First, you look after yourself physically. You recognise you need to eat, hydrate, sleep and exercise, taking good care of your body.
Second, you look after yourself mentally, making sure you have down time, stimulation, social contact and time to play and learn.
Third, you flex your self-care as life changes. The more you are coping with, the more self-care you need.
Fourth, you challenge yourself. Use it or lose it. You give yourself opportunities to stretch and grow, times when you need your resilience, and from this build a confidence in yourself and your ability to cope.
Resilience is not a finite resource, it ebbs and flows. To thrive, you need to take account of this and take steps to put yourself in the best position you can so that you are ready when life gets tough.