Resilience: what does it really mean and how do you make it last

How do you define resilience? What qualities do you associate with resilience? Who comes to mind when you think of someone resilient? A lot of us might think of a military soldier, making it through a battlefield, or a tough athlete, pushing themselves to the limit.

It may disappoint you, but this idea of resilience is not scientifically correct and incomplete. Today, more than ever, it is important to understand how to build truly sustainable resilience that lasts and endures through any crisis.

Being resilient

If you ever had a chance to ask your body what it loves and needs most, you would definitely hear the word “homeostasis” or simply put: the steady balance of your physical internal processes like body temperature, intake of water, oxygen, minerals, etc.

Your body loves healthy, daily routines that help you maintain resilience, wellbeing, and vitality. You also need to maintain balance in terms of active and passive time, or “performance zone” and “recovery zone.” Otherwise, you risk depleting your physical and mental resources too fast.

These days, I spend a lot of time training teams online on ways to stay resilient and positive. Here are some of the strategies that I recommend for your body equilibrium and mind resilience:

1. Plan your external recovery time

We all know about the importance of disconnecting and resting outside of work hours. This is what is called external recovery time. The most effective way to start your external recovery time is to get active and move. Just 30 minutes of your favourite YouTube video workout, yoga session or even just a walk outside (making sure to adhere to social distancing rules) can do miracles for your body and brain.

Active exercise helps you release muscle tension, boost body vitality, enhance brain activity and health, as well as expelling toxins and creating optimal conditions for the growth of new brain cells and vessels. As a result, your memory and thinking skills improve, keeping burnout, stress, and anxiety away from your door.

After a great start to your external recovery period, you can treat yourself to a nice dinner and some detox time. You could catch up on that Netflix show you’ve been meaning to finish, read your favourite book, enjoy a chat with your loved ones or dive into a guided meditation session (Body Scan Meditation does miracles for your sleep).

2. Schedule your internal recovery breaks – get creative

What about internal recovery time? This is your recovery zone during working hours; short “rest & digest” breaks to help you rebuild your energy and maintain your body balance and resilience during the day.

I recommend planning 3-4 internal recovery breaks a day, each about 15-20 minutes long. A good idea would be setting reminders for small breaks during the day and maybe even having a theme/purpose for each of them. Get creative and have some fun with it. Recovery break number one could be your “fruit of the day” time, recovery break number two could be a balcony / garden moment for some fresh air and sun and recovery period number three might be an active stretching routine.

These breaks are crucial in making you feel well-balanced and recharged. You should treat these breaks as an indulgence, as a reward for doing your best in the performance zone.

3. Turn on your Experience Mode when outside

What do you do when you go outside – take a walk, a run or go shopping? Many of us choose to multi-task and call someone on the phone or listen to music. But this is such a waste of our precious time outside (as well as a detriment to your safety – watching where you are and keeping social distance).

So, when outdoors, I recommend switching off your phone and turning on your “Experience Mode”. By this, I mean enjoying your time outside – engaging your senses; walking, breathing, enjoying the sun and nature around you, listening to sounds you may not have noticed before, feeling the temperature and freshness of the air on your skin.

Just 10-15 minutes of walking / jogging in silence and observing, can transform your experience, almost making it into a walking meditation practice. Your mind will be able to recharge and you will discover a much more enjoyable and memorable way to be outside. Try it out and you never know, this may be your new favourite way of taking a break.

Make the most of your day

To sum up, resilience is a balance between working hard, then pausing, recovering and working hard again. I hope that I inspired you with a few strategies that you can implement into your daily routine. Feel free to share your best practices for staying resilient and positive in these challenging times.