Lockdown lows: building our resilience

By Fiona Martin

16 October 2020

7 minute read

two people standing outside with masks on

Keen on building your resilience? We’ve got some tips. Credit: Unsplash.

Earlier this year we talked about building resilience. Our mental health and wellbeing specialist, Fiona Martin, provided us with some practical ways to start. But how do we stay resilient when we feel depleted?

She explains the role of resilience and provides some practical tips for building our resilience muscle.

Over to Fiona.

We’ve been running on adrenalin for a while now, particularly in Victoria, and we are depleted. It’s hard for some of us to remember what it feels like to go out for a coffee with mates. We are tired. Many of us have not had a proper break and time out of the workplace to focus on ourselves, our families, or to explore new places.

Mental health experts advocate holistic wellbeing as a way of improving our lives. Good wellbeing helps us stay resilient, build social support and self-efficacy, and helps us cope with adversity. But what exactly is resilience?

Resilience is defined as the capacity to cope with change and continue to evolve in positive ways. It’s not always possible to prevent stressful, adverse or uncertain situations and 2020 has most certainly shown us all that. But you can strengthen your capacity to deal with these challenges.

Understanding the role of resilience

As much as resilience involves ‘bouncing back’ from difficult situations, it can also involve profound personal growth. While adverse events can certainly be painful and difficult, they don’t have to determine the outcome of your life.

There are many aspects of your life you can control, modify and grow with. That’s the role of resilience. Becoming more resilient not only helps you get through difficult circumstances, it also empowers you to grow and even improve your life along the way.

Being resilient doesn’t mean you won’t experience difficulty or distress in your life, but it may change the way you are able to deal with it. People who have suffered major adversity or trauma in their lives commonly experience emotional pain and stress. In fact, the road to resilience is likely to involve considerable emotional distress.

What makes up resilience?

While certain factors might make some individuals more resilient than others, resilience isn’t necessarily a personality trait that only some people possess. On the contrary, resilience involves behaviours, thoughts, and actions that anyone can learn and develop.

The ability to learn resilience is one reason research has shown that it’s an ordinary not extraordinary trait. A good example of this is how many Australians responded positively to the recent bushfires.

But like building a muscle, increasing your resilience takes proper intention and time. Focusing on four core components can empower you to withstand and learn from difficult and traumatic experiences. The American Psychological Society notes these to be connection, wellness, healthy thinking and meaning.

Build your connections

Foster wellness

Find purpose

Embrace healthy thoughts

Sometimes we can find ourselves struggling to handle the challenges that come our way, especially when they seem to be never ending or protracted like COVID-19. Small steps towards building your resilience will help.

Available support services

The current situation can be challenging. There is support available:

Beyond Blue recognises and understands the feelings of anxiety, distress and concern many people may be experiencing in relation to self-isolating and coronavirus (COVID-19) and offers a range of wellbeing advice. The Department of Health’s Head to Health website provides links to trusted Australian online and phone supports, resources and treatment options.

Keen to share what works for you? Share your tip to build resilience below.