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Gustav Restau - Independent Lifeplus Associate


Create a Resilience action plan with James Ellington

Reading Time: 5 minutes

What does it mean to be resilient?

No matter what life stage you’re at, it’s inevitable that we all come across the ups and downs of life. Resilience is the ability to deal and bounce back from those difficult events. It doesn’t mean that emotional upheaval or varying stress levels aren’t experienced, it’s the way you work through the emotional pain and suffering that makes all the difference.

Someone who regularly works on his resilience is Olympic athlete, James Ellington. After experiencing a terrible motorbike accident which saw him in a wheelchair, he experienced a knockback that not only threatened his career but his life too. Despite it all, he’s shown his resilience and determination by pushing himself back to elite level athletic competition.

With resilience, the most important thing to know is that it takes time to build up, it’s not something that you can do overnight and forget about it. It’s like completing a big sporting challenge – it takes time, mental focus and strength and a good support circle. While there may be some setbacks along the way, you’ll eventually look back at how far you’ve come and there’s no better feeling.

So with this in mind, we’re sharing a number of tips to improve your resilience and we’re encouraging you to build your personal resilience action along with James Ellington.

Refuel and look after yourself

Taking care of yourself helps to keep your mind and body primed to deal with situations that require resilience. It’s all about listening to your body and directing your attention to your own needs and feelings. Focus on engaging in activities that you enjoy and find relaxing. This could be anything from exercising, taking part in mindful activities, reading, taking some me time. This is different for everyone.

James’ chosen action:

Priorities constantly change and it can be easy to forget to spend some time for yourself. I try doing something that makes me feel good every day, like exercising, exploring and catching up with family and friends. I also like to let my mind wander on topics I’m interested in to help keep me relaxed and stress-free.

What’s your action?: _________________________________________________________________________

Train your brain to see both the positives and negatives

The brain is quite complex and sometimes it’s a bit harder to spot the positives over the negatives. But why? Our brain saves the happy chemicals (dopamine, serotonin and oxytocin) for opportunities to meet a survival need, and only releases them in short spurts which are quickly metabolised. This highlights the importance for us to take steps that stimulate our happy chemicals.

When you’re navigating your way to good feelings, your brain automatically alerts you to an obstacle on the path to meeting your needs. And once that obstacle has been overcome, it moves on to the next. In order to think more positively there’s a simple way to rewire this natural negativity. Create a positivity circuit by spending one minute looking for positives, three times a day for forty five days. This creates a positive habit in your brain. And while doing this, look out for external influences that may affect your positivity circuit, i.e. your support circle, having a work/life balance, etc.

James’ chosen action:

I aim to distance myself from negative energy or even any negative thoughts of my own and remind myself that I create my own outlook on things. With that being said, negativity in some form (criticism) is necessary to prevent complacency and recognising the significance of this helps to deal with it.

What’s your action?: _________________________________________________________________________

Stretch your mental muscle by continuously learning

We all understand that dedicating lots of exercise practises, with time, diet and patience will build muscle on our bodies, and without doing so, our muscles will weaken. It’s the same concept when we’re talking about our mental strength. Changing your thoughts is one aspect, but you also have to perform exercises to help manage your emotions in a positive way.

These exercises can be as simple or as complex as you want. Start off with one simple exercise and begin practicing it regularly – whether that’s trying something new like learning to play an instrument or completing a brain teaser or puzzle. Once you’ve done that, you can then begin adding new mental muscle building strategies into your daily routine to help you build your mental strength.

James’ chosen action:

I like to interact in thought-provoking conversations and with people that I’m not familiar with. This way, I’m out of my comfort zone of communication with family and friends, and get to hear different opinions on subjects and engage in insightful debates.

What’s your action?: _________________________________________________________________________

Staying social

Having a strong social network around you is important – whether that’s friends, family, or colleagues. Your social network acts as a protective factor during times of crisis. Simply talking about a situation with someone won’t necessarily get rid of any worries but it allows you to open up about your feelings, get support, receive positive feedback and come up with possible solutions to your problems.

This doesn’t always have to be in person either, technology today makes it so much easier to connect with people at any time from all around the world. While life can get busy and it’s easy to get caught up, dealing with situations alone, it’s key to schedule some time with others. It will do your mind the world of good.

James’ chosen action:

I always like to check in with my family and close friends, as I’m aware of the positive impact it has in dealing with any down times. Likewise, connecting with other athletes is important in helping to deal with tough situations, as they may have experienced similar feelings, they can really empathise and provide added motivation.

What’s your action?: _________________________________________________________________________

Establish goals

The most important thing to consider when establishing goals is to be realistic, and this applies even when a problem occurs. When you find yourself becoming overwhelmed by a situation, take a step back to simply assess what is before you. Brainstorm possible solutions, and then break them down into manageable steps.

Whilst it’s important to look at the bigger picture, creating smaller milestones can help you identify your progress, and it’s always important to recognise your achievements.

James’ chosen action:

I always have a main goal in mind but in order to achieve it, I certainly like to break it down into multiple milestones. This allows me to work realistically towards achieving my main aim without feeling unnecessary pressure, but feeling a sense of accomplishment every time I achieve success with a smaller milestone.

What’s your action?: _________________________________________________________________________

Reflect, Reset and Rebuild

We never know what challenges are ahead but using our resilience to actively progress forward in life is important – whether that’s physically, personally, professionally, emotionally and socially. As we think about our goals, it’s important we consider our learnings and let them shape our opportunities time and time again. Regardless of what stage in your life you’re at, there are three important steps which we recommend regularly doing in line with the tips above to support your resilience: Reflect Reset and Rebuild.

We hope you’ve enjoyed creating your personal resilience action plan. Follow us on social media to see James complete his actions and don’t forget to tag us in your activities!