Written by Christine Griffey, Shift Momentum

Have you always wondered how some people seem to cope with stress or sadness much better than others? They seem to just have more resilience.

Their sad times don’t overwhelm them and stress doesn’t seem to set them back? If you thought it was just the luck of the draw who can and who can’t deal with life’s bigger setbacks you’d be mistaken. There are actually simple things we can all do to build our own resilience.

The American Psychological Association (ASA) defines resilience as the process of adapting well in the face of adversity, trauma, tragedy, threats or significant sources of stress (family, relationship problems, health problems or workplace and financial stresses). As much as resilience involves bouncing back from these difficult experiences, it can also involve profound personal growth.

Life poses many challenges where we show signs of resilience but that we might not have associated with being resilient. Any challenge you’ve ever overcome, any problem you’ve managed to get through – no matter how big or small – takes some level of resilience.

This year of uncertainty and change means we need to be resilient, to accept the change that has maybe already happened or is coming and not dwell on the things that we cannot change and cannot control. Especially in business.

Covid-19 and the effects it has had on society and businesses is something that’s out of our control. We cannot change it, but we can disrupt it. We cannot resist what is and should focus on managing what we can control.

It’s certainly easier said than done – but it remains the fact that resilience isn’t a trait that people either do or don’t have, it involves behaviours, thoughts and actions and it can be learned by anyone.

The ASA outlines a framework of 10 great ways to build resilience:

1. It’s ok not to be ok

Having good, solid relationships is so important. Being honest, vulnerable and asking for and accepting help from others strengthens resilience. Being a business owner can be an extremely lonely place and if you do not have people in your immediate circle who understand and can offer the support that you may need at this time, then make sure you reach out to people that can.

Becoming part of a supportive network like the Shifties Community that’s filled with other like-minded business owners who know exactly what you are going through is a great way to get the support you need. Assisting others in their time of need can also be extremely beneficial to your own state of mind.

2. No crisis is unbeatable

Don’t resist what is. No one can change that highly stressful events happen – that’s not something we can control. What we can control is how we manage, interpret and respond to these events.

Remember any times where you’ve previously faced a challenge that you thought at the time was too difficult to overcome? Remind yourself how you overcame that and that you can do the same now. Try looking beyond the present to the future, focus on what you can control now to ensure the future is brighter. Create a plan of how you get to that brighter future and ensure anything you are doing moves you closer to that.

3. Change is part of living

While creating a plan to focus on you need to accept that, especially this year, that plan may need to change and adapt, and that’s ok. Some plans and goals may no longer be attainable, and accepting circumstances that cannot be changed can help you focus on circumstances you can alter.

Change doesn’t have to be a negative, accepting it as a part of life can help you use it to your advantage and see it as a positive. Change can lead to amazing things that you had never thought of or never thought possible before. Embrace it!

4. Small steps towards your goals

Creating a plan for the future and a plan for overcoming a challenging time is vital. But it’s also so valuable to develop some small realistic goals alongside the plan. Something you can do regularly, even if it seems like a small accomplishment it enables you to move towards your goals. Instead of focusing on tasks that seem unachievable ask yourself “what’s one thing I know I can accomplish today that helps me move in the direction I want to go?”

5. Take decisive action

Act on adverse situations as much as you can. Don’t bury your head in the sand and detach completely from problems and stresses hoping they go away – Take decisive action!

6. Opportunities for self-discovery

People often learn something about themselves and find they have grown in some way as a result of facing and overcoming a challenge. Many people report better relationships, a greater sense of strength even when feeling vulnerable, increased self worth and a heightened appreciation of life.

7. Nurture a positive view of yourself

Developing confidence in your ability to solve problems and trusting your instincts helps build resilience. Once you begin to see yourself as someone who can overcome difficulties it’s easier to be that person.

8. Keep things in perspective

Even when facing difficult situations it’s important to stop and use logic, consider the situation in a broader context and keep a long-term perspective. Avoid being impulsive and reactive without first putting the situation into perspective.

9. Maintain a hopeful outlook

An optimistic outlook enables you to expect that good things will happen. Try visualising what you want rather than worrying about what you fear. This change in mindset is a very simple but effective ‘trick’ you can use on yourself to keep your mind focused on the positives.

10. Take good care of yourself

Pay attention to your own needs and feelings. Engage in activities that you enjoy and find relaxing. Exercise regularly. Manage what noises and information you are allowing in, avoid negative people and media. Taking care of yourself helps to keep your mind and body primed and ready to deal with situations that require resilience.

Further reading:



Resilience: The Science of Mastering Life’s Greatest Challenges (Book by Dennis S. Charney and Steven M. Southwick)

Rising Strong (Book by Brené Brown)

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