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Welcome to the Health Defence Blog - a blog about health, wellness and a healthier you. Brought to you by the Health Defence team at Chest Heart & Stroke Scotland, you'll find up-to-date information on a range of topics from what's in your food to the latest advice on e-cigarettes!

Dave Bertin

Guest blogger: Dave Bertin - CHSS Voices Scotland Lead

August 20, 2018

The concept of resilience has gained attention recently. Sadly because it seems that more people are often feeling stressed and worn out. When we are worn out, we are less able to cope with what life throws at us, so building resilience is one approach we can use. This month’s guest blogger, CHSS Voices Scotland Lead, Dave Bertin, explains what resilience is and steps you can take to become more resilient.

What is resilience?

Resilience is the ability to deal with the emotional demands of life – without feeling overwhelmed by them. It doesn’t mean we become immune to them – simply that we can handle them. Part of the skill of resilience is the ability to accept that work and life will throw things at us, put obstacles in front of us and that, sometimes, people around us will not do what we hope they would.

If we approach life as a smooth and predictable pathway then any issue or challenge that arises will derail and upset us. Whereas if we can foresee and prepare (to some extent) for these challenges, we can be ready with our package of skills and approaches to see us through to the other side.

It is not about being negative and always expecting bad news. It is about knowing that, from time to time, stuff happens, and being ready for it!

How to become more resilient?

  • Having support around you. Someone (ideally more than one) who you can talk to, share your worries and fears with, and who helps you to see things clearly. Hopefully you may have this already but if not then think about someone that could do this. It is not always someone you are friendly with, it is about a person who can listen without judging you – maybe even someone you only ever speak to on the phone or via email.
  • Pacing and balance. Having a good balance of things we have to do versus things we want to do! In other words – not all work but pleasure and fun. If work (be it paid work or just life) is filling all your waking life then you need to get breaks from that, add in your time for people and things that matter to you. Remember if you don’t look after yourself then you can’t look after others.
  • Learning to press the “pause” button. Notice when you are tense, stressed or feeling low. Stop and take a breath and look at what is causing this. Ask: what am I thinking? What am I reacting to? Pull back, reflect and consider if your reaction is helpful. Take five minutes out.
  • Identifying the triggers that can unsettle you. This could be a particular person, a recurring situation at work or home, types of meetings/social events or even times of day or times associated with your health. Once these are identified then you can develop a particular way of dealing with them or, if no other option, avoiding them.
  • Find ways to relax. Mindfulness (read more about mindfulness here), relaxation training, yoga, walking, exercise, reading, gardening, dancing, laughing, singing……. Whatever works for you.

Expecting the unexpected!

Sometimes we may think that those around us seem to sail through life without effort – dealing with challenges easily. That may be the case for a few but most people have just learnt ways to deal with these challenges. It is just a part of being human. Remember it is never too late to learn new habits and ditch the unhelpful ones! Expecting the unexpected is the first step to improving your resilience.

Next time we will explore the complimentary concept of emotional intelligence! Nothing to do with how many exams you passed at school – much more important!

Image credit: flyparade

***Disclaimer: always seek medical advice before starting a new diet, exercise regime or medication. The information in these articles is not a substitute for professional advice from a GP, registered dietitian or other health practitioner.

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