14 June 2021
A year ago and a few months into the pandemic, I became particularly interested in how to develop my resilience. That is why I decided to work on developing my resilience as a part of the Edinburgh Award. Despite the pandemic posing an unprecedented challenge, developing resilience is useful for all kinds of situations, and especially when dealing with stress.
Being resilient does not mean going through stressful situations without any difficulties; it is about having tools and strategies to manage challenging situations and being able to bounce back quickly.
Identifying Stressors Has Been Crucial
When planning concrete ways to develop my resilience, I decided to evaluate situations I found stressful in the past and what actions improved or contrarily worsened the time which was stressful for me. I learned about the adverse effects of stress on our health. I decided to commit to limiting stress, because it was often preventable, not worth it, and for the rest of times when you are not in control of the cause, it is good to be prepared as much as possible.
Building resilience is ongoing work and results can fluctuate over the years. It is connected to our well-being which often relies on multiple factors. I decided to focus on three of these factors:
- Mental health
Inspired by various readings and online sessions, I have been learning to approach my goals more as long-term and consistent efforts, which means proactively working on my resilience through commitment to particular habits. This way I think about each day as a small but important step on my path towards resilience. As with many things in our lives, there are no short-cuts in building resilience and so far I am convinced resilience needs to be maintained during our whole life.
Here are a few ways that helped me with developing my resilience.
- Proactively plan concrete time-slots during my week for exercise (gym, tennis, bike, or walk) and put them into my Google calendar. It was important for me to not treat this time as a secondary to my deadlines and work.
- Set a minimum time every week to commit to visting the gym.
- I started to enjoy the benefits of the consistent exercise routine and naturally I started to increase the number of times I went to the gym. It became a positive experience rather than being frustrated for not being able to manage the sometimes unrealistic goals set at the start.
This one will mean different things to everyone: this could be spending more time with your friends and family, meditation, being selective with the content you consume, spending free time more intentionally, or hobbies.
- I like to read all kinds of news briefings every morning. However, I realised that sometimes there is a lot of negative information first thing in the morning, which I had to admit to myself, affected my mood. I decided to limit my consumption of news, especially in the mornings, so I can focus on my goals first.
- I commit to meditation practice and same with physical exercise, I notice the positive effects it has on my mind, so I am starting to look forward to meditation every day.
- Starting even with one minute of meditation is better than nothing. Be mindful to set realistic goals for yourself.
- I am trying to spend more time on hobbies which are not based on looking at screens.
- I now use Google calendar more consistently and developed systems for all different kinds of tasks, and also fun events to put in. I love paper notebooks, however, the Google calendar helped me to plan in the long-term and reduce worrying about leaving my paper notebook at home.
- Using Google calendar also shows me how much time I really need for tasks and how much time is left for other things, as I sometimes underestimate the time it takes to complete some tasks.
- This may sound obvious, but setting pre-deadlines for assignments can save you lots of unnecessary stress.
I noticed a change in my resilience, even though I still had a few stressful moments during the last two semesters. However, keeping up with the above activities has been helping me to get through these times easier, and be more on the observer’s side as opposed to being fully immersed in the stress.
Here are a few resources that helped me to learn more about resilience and wellbeing:
- Coursera — The Science of Well-being from Yale University
- Headspace App for meditation
- How to Build a Healthy Brain by Kimberley Wilson
- Atomic Habits by James Clear
- Thrive by Arianna Huffington
Dominika Chrastilova is studying for the MSc in International Human Resource Management