Exercising your resilience

by May 29, 2020

“It’s not the strongest of the species that survive, nor the most intelligent, but the ones more resilient and responsive to change…”
– Darwin

The three attributes being compared in this quote are strength, intelligence and resilience – with resilience being the key to survival. The good news is we all have resilience and it can be learned and developed.

I wrote about my resilience over the years, in my first post for this blog, A Story About Resilience and Adaptability from a Former International Student.

With working from home (WFH) already at two months, I have continued to use self-care strategies to maintain my resilience, one of which is constantly recognising and being grateful for the good things in my life. For me, one of the moments worth recognising was when I noticed how mental wellbeing is at the forefront (or simply included) in a lot of online discussions, sharing tips and advice during this pandemic. I found this to be encouraging – that so many were highlighting the fact that looking after yourself during the COVID-19 climate included looking after your mental health.

At the beginning of WFH, my team and I were in the middle of adapting a pre-existing employability program to an online format. Because of the short two week deadline, it was some of the hardest, fastest and smartest work I have ever done in my career. It was exciting but also challenging. It really made me reflect and appreciate the active and conscious effort I took in my self-care to ensure I didn’t get unwell or totally exhaust myself.

Associate Professor Sydney Ey, Ph.D. at Department of Psychiatry at Oregon Health & Science University, developed a Resilience Building Plan Worksheet which I used to reflect on during that time:

  1. Recognize Your Signs of Stress: shoulder ache, tension headaches and easily frustrated.
  2. Focus on Building Physical Hardiness: kept to 20-minutes exercise in the mornings and monitored sleep hours.
  3. Strengthen the Relaxation Response – Calm Body and Calm Mind: guided sleep meditation.
  4. Identify and Use Your Strengths: focused on objective and adapting the plan as needed.
  5. Increase Positive Emotions on a Daily Basis: acknowledged achievements for the day, checked-in with the team as a whole and with each individual and watched short comedy shows for a laugh.
  6. Engage in Meaningful Activities: gardening, cooking nice meals and watching documentaries
  7. Counter Unhelpful Thinking: acknowledged, identified and countered cognitive distortions daily.
  8. Create a Caring Community: keeping up with family and friends with regular calls or texts.

Overall, it was my learning how to accept the reality of WFH that moves me forward. Rather than dwelling on what could have been – face-to-face work, interacting directly with the people we want to impact – I try to tell myself, “OK, that happened. What’s next?” By incorporating this forward thinking attitude, I can utilise my resilience to continue meeting my goals. (Check out Stephen Covey’s Circle of Concern and Circle of Influence for more insight).

I attribute this attitude to helping me counter unhelpful thinking and increasing positive emotions, especially during these ‘times of uncertainty’ (I’ve put that in quotes because don’t we always live in a time of uncertainty?!)

“Doubt is not a pleasant condition, but certainty is an absurd one” 
– Voltaire

Featured image courtesy of Unsplash

By Esita Sogotubu

By Esita Sogotubu

Employability Manager

Esita Sogotubu is an experienced career development practitioner with 10 years of service at UTS Careers. She has worked in hospitality and was a newspaper reporter in another life. As an Employability Manager she is a great believer of self-awareness being key to personal and professional development and success. Her work in the Career Programs Team has included the Accomplish Award and Univative. She has a particular interest and passion for international students, as she was one herself.