How to Build Resilience

This week, I planned to share a recent interview, but I thought some of you may benefit from a discussion of resilience. With the current uncertainty and forced changes in our lives as a result of COVID-19, many of us have to face new challenges and increased stress. Countries in Europe, including Czech Republic, are encouraging social isolation to reduce the spread of the disease. You may find yourself more isolated than usual.

I typically work from home so I’m used to a lot of quiet and physical isolation. I’m an introvert and like the quiet, but I also wish for noise, activity, and the presence of other people at times. Typically, when I get the urge, I can go to work in a cafe for a few hours. Now, with COVID-19 fears, I’m purely working from home.

We can navigate change most successfully when we’ve developed some resilience. According to the American Psychological Association:

Psychologists define resilience as the process of adapting well in the face of adversity, trauma, tragedy, threats or significant sources of stress — such as family and relationship problems, serious health problems, or workplace and financial stressors.

Resilience is especially important when the change brings uncertainty, fear, discomfort. It helps us experience personal growth during times of stress and difficult change. Lets look at the four times of resilience that you can build even now, to help you through the current COVID-19 pandemic. Most of what I share with you today is based on Jane McGonigal’s book, SuperBetter.

Four Resiliences

The four resiliences are:

  • Physical resilience – can move your body and use your brain as you need to
  • Mental resilience – can face challenges that come up
  • Emotional resilience – can deal with difficult situations
  • Social resilience – can connect with others and have your social needs met

Even when you’re staying home or spending time alone, it’s possible to build your resilience. My goal today is to provide you with activities that you can do to develop each resilience. I suggest that you cycle through the suggestions during your breaks each day. You may want to spend more time on activities to build the resilience you think you’re most lacking, but it’s a good idea to work on all four types of resilience. We improve whatever skills we practice.

Physical Resilience

Physical resilience is possibly the easiest resilience for you to build. You can do it all by yourself, improving your brain, heart and lungs with movement. I find that the more I sit, the more my body protests with aches and pains. Since I started working from home, I’ve built movement breaks into my day. I still don’t move as much as I’d like, but I find that the more I move during the day, the better my body feels.

The goal here is to move your body in different ways for endurance, flexibility, balance and resistance training, and to rewire your brain. Examples of endurance activities include jumping jacks, in-outs, burpees, mountain climbers. For flexibility, do some stretching and twists. Balance activities usually involve you using one leg at a time. Resistance training is the most difficult; it works best if you have some dumbbells or resistance bands. But even without them, you can do a variety of bodyweight exercises. To get you started there are links to websites for each type of exercise in the show notes. My favorite way to work out at home is to find a video to follow on YouTube. I usually follow several Zumba videos each day. There are also lots of apps and websites that you can use to find exercises or workouts.

To rewire your brain, practice mindfulness and meditation. It can be a few minutes of deep breaths while you feel the sensations in your body, sitting quietly, doing breath work meditating. It can be a few minutes or hours each day.

Whether you’re doing something good for your brain or body, it’s good to also drink some water. Many of us don’t drink enough water every day, and it helps with many of our body’s functions. Even at home, it can help you drink more water if you keep a water bottle beside you.

Links for Free Workouts

I’ve included a number of links to websites where you can get free workouts. Some of the links are to YouTube channels. There are apps you can use on iOS and Android as well as on the web. Some of them require an account while others don’t.

Apps for Meditation

Mental Resilience

To build mental resilience, tackle a tiny challenge or learn something new. Perhaps you’re already taking on challenges from listening to Changes BIG and small, or you’re learning new things at school or work. Here are some other quick activities that you can do at any time to build mental resilience:

  • Snap 50 times
  • Count backwards from 100 by 7 or 9, etc.
  • Solve a riddle
  • Use your non-dominant hand to complete a task

Emotional Resilience

Positive emotions make it easier to face problems that come up. It turns out that there is good reason for you to watch cat videos! There are two excellent ways of building emotional resilience on your own. One of them is to watch animal videos and photos, which build feelings of love. The second is to look through a window for 30s with curiosity and attention.

Social Resilience

Social resilience is the most difficult resilience to build during social isolation. You can connect with others through touch or gratitude. A 6-second handshake or hug would be great but since touch is out during social isolation, you can develop social resilience by sending someone a note expressing gratitude. You can also say out loud or write down the things for which you are grateful. This helps us see how we are connected and supported by other people.

Apps for Practicing Gratitude

So if you’re feeling a bit holed up at home during this COVID-19 pandemic, take some time to work on each of the four types of resilience. You may want to check out this general app Bliss for some exercises to build resilience.

The Challenge

The challenge is to do something to build you resilience every day. The good news is that Jane McGonigal has a website, SuperBetter that provides you with tasks to do each day. It’s free to create ad account and start using the site. You can use it on your iOS device, Android or the web.

My todos on SuperBetter for March 17

SuperBetter is an online app that helps you build resilience. It provides power-ups (quick actions to help you feel better) and quests (small steps toward a goal) to help you build your resilience. You can even create your own. Each time you do a task, you get points towards one of the four types of resilience. It gamifies the process of building resilience to build the positive emotions that motivate us and helps grow. Check if out and share your experience with me and with others.

Be well and stay safe. I’ll be back next week with an interview.


Bonus: Jane McGonigal’s TED Talk


Books

  • SuperBetter: The Power of Living Gamefully by Jane McGonigal

Credits