What are the benefits of resilience, and how can we develop it?

What are the benefits of resilience, and how can we develop it?

Being resilient means that we trust ourselves to deal with challenges and have hope that things will work out in the end. It does not mean that we do not feel frustrated, disappointed, or upset. 

It means that even when setbacks occur, or we make mistakes, we can tolerate the discomfort these cause by acknowledging our feelings and taking time to reflect and restore our energy. 

We can develop our resilience just like any other skill. We can practise tolerating self-doubt and focus on what we have learned from past challenges. It will boost our confidence to deal with setbacks.  

Here are strategies to develop resilience:

Focus on what you can control: be present and notice what is happening. Then identify within your control and think about what you can do right now to move forwards.

Learning to trust ourselves boosts our confidence to experiment with possible solutions even if we do not know how things will work out. It is the skill that helps us grow and adapt to new situations.

Maintain a healthy routine: Identify your priorities and create a structure for your day to help plan your work and when you can take breaks away from screens. Also, allow time to go outdoors for a walk or exercise to boost your motivation and improve concentration. It is essential to take care of ourselves to maintain our resilience. 

Take time to pay attention: noticing how we feel and acknowledging when feeling uncomfortable and distressed. Being kind and understanding – we are human and can make mistakes.

Then, we can start to explore what we can do to manage the situation.

Practise gratitude: It helps to redirect our attention to what we value and find meaningful. It helps to manage our emotions and be hopeful that things can change for the better.

Connect with others: When facing difficult situations, sometimes we hold back and do not talk to others about our concerns. Perhaps we fear they might not understand and feel alone. We can speak with a trusted family member or friend. They can act as sounding boards and can provide a different perspective.

Keep active: Doing some exercise every day is essential to maintain our physical and mental health. It helps to manage our emotions, energy and to maintain balance.

For more information check this blog post and this one. 

References:

David, S. (2016) Emotional agility. Get unstuck, embrace change and thrive in work and life. London: Penguin Books.

Gilbert, P. (2010) The compassionate mind. London: Constable & Robinson, Ltd.

Neff, K. (2011) Self-compassion. Stop beating yourself up and leave insecurity behind. New York: HarperCollins Publishers.

Restoring balance and building confidence

Restoring balance and building confidence

We hear that we need to be confident to do well in this world. But how do we know when we are confident? We can recognise this feeling when we feel good because we achieved something important to us, something that was difficult and took effort.

Confidence is the degree to which we believe our actions will achieve a positive outcome. It is believing that we are capable and can persevere with our efforts. It is dynamic, and it fluctuates depending on what is happening in our day and how we react to events (Harris, 2010).

However, life brings challenges and sometimes these can trigger a range of emotions that can affect how confident we feel to face events. When facing uncertainty, unfamiliar situations, or worrying about possible negative consequences, we may feel our confidence decreases as we are unsure how to respond to the situation. We may doubt our ability to do it well.

Sometimes, we may react by distracting ourselves from the challenge to avoid uncomfortable feelings. Sometimes, we may experience fear and wonder what to do to protect ourselves.

It is normal to feel vulnerable, and we may tend to avoid distressing thoughts and feelings, but suppressing them will only make it more stressful. Instead, it is best to acknowledge our feelings with curiosity and without judgment.

We all have these experiences from time to time (Harris, 2010). When dealing with a challenging situation, rather than judging ourselves because we are finding it so hard or questioning our ability, it is best to pay attention to step back to gain perspective.

As we give ourselves a bit of space and time to understand what is happening, we can get in touch with what matters. David (2017) describes it as listening to our courage that can manifest in a whisper that tells us that we are capable even when we have doubts or feel fear. When we are honest with ourselves and have the courage to feel our feelings with compassion, we can restore balance and a sense of confidence in our ability to deal with the challenge.  

Tips to boost confidence:

Being authentic: It is good to reconnect with our values to remind ourselves of what is meaningful, what matters to us. We are more likely to experience a sense of inner balance when we are in harmony with our beliefs, and our behaviour is consistent (Joseph, 2016).

Developing emotional agility: Adopting a flexible and understanding attitude enable us to tolerate discomfort and manage our feelings. It also allows us to deal with uncertainty and adjust when change happens (David, 2017).

Developing self-compassion: It is normal to have questions, self-doubt, and feel vulnerable at times. As we develop our self-awareness, we can manage our reactions in constructive ways.

Remembering that we are human beings – we get tired can be upset or frustrated. It is helpful to keep an open mind and check our assumptions. It will allow us to gain perspective and explore options to deal with challenges. As we practice applying these strategies, we can strengthen our sense of self-efficacy, boost our confidence and strengthen our belief in our ability to deal with challenges.

For more information check this blog post and this one

References:

David, S. (2016) Emotional agility. Get unstuck, embrace change, and thrive in work and
             life.
 Great Britain: Penguin Life.

Gilbert, P. & Choden, (2013) Mindful compassion. Using the power of mindfulness and
            compassion to transform our lives.
 Great Britain: Robinson

Harris, R. (2011) The confidence gap. From fear to freedom. London: Constable & Robinson,
             Ltd.

Finishing university – keeping well while looking for a job

Most of you will know your results by now or will soon hear about them.  Congratulations to all on your efforts and perseverance during your time at university. And for those of you who are completing your degree – congratulations on your achievement. 

Finishing university is a significant milestone to achieve. As much as you look forward to your next step, it also means saying goodbye to your life as a student and saying goodbye to friends. As you review your time at university, you may experience mixed emotions as it is the end of what has become a familiar environment and routine. 

Managing the transition phase – when ending something and starting something new –  requires trusting our capacity to deal with the uncertainty of new situations. We need to prepare to meet new people and establish new relationships, and whenever going through change, it is essential to develop new routines that support our health and wellbeing (Bridges, 2004).

You are likely to be thinking about your next steps. Perhaps you already are planning to apply for jobs, or you may be taking time to consider your options. Not everyone is sure of what they would like to do after university, and particularly now, there is so much uncertainty due to the pandemic.

You may be wondering what will happen next, and you may be hoping that a good job opportunity or the option for further study in your chosen field become a reality. It is stimulating to explore options and expand your wings in a new environment. 

Managing the transition to life after university

Acknowledge feelings:
It is normal to feel mixed feelings as you say goodbye to friends and the lifestyle you created while at university. It is a time of anticipation, wondering about how things will unfold and a bit of apprehension as you move into unfamiliar territory. 

As human beings, we do not like change as it brings uncertainty, and many would like to have some idea of what to expect to plan. So, if we are not sure, we can keep this in mind to remind us that what we are feeling is part of the transition process. 

Reflecting on your experiences and giving space to thoughts and feelings will help to deal with setbacks. A helpful strategy is to look at all the variety of different ideas that may come to mind. 

Keep an open mind:  Imagine the road ahead that goes around a curve, like a path through a garden. At the starting point, we are not sure where the road will take us, but we have a general sense of direction. 

We can start walking, trusting our ability to manage the obstacles and new situations we encounter on our way along the path. Then, as we get around the corner, we will be able to see beyond. We can gather new information from our observations and experience to decide the next steps. 

Create a structure to your day: During your degree, you developed a lifestyle as a student that became familiar. As you move to a new situation, you are finding out what you are interested in and exploring what activities you would like to do, so it may take a bit of time to work out how best to spend your time. It can be a bit unsettling. 

It is essential to create a structure for the day to manage your energy level and have a sense of purpose. For example, you may decide to write job applications or take a course online to learn new skills. Once you identify what you want to do, you can develop a plan and have some goals that will help to focus your mind and efforts.  

Thinking about what works best for you: Explore what interests you, the type of activities  you would like to do in a job. Perhaps you like being outdoors, being in contact with people, or maybe you prefer to be in a quiet space and do research, or maybe you like to work using technology or media, etc. It is helpful to reflect on the things that you enjoyed when you were in school and during your degree.

Identify what motivates you: Although you may not know yet what you would like to do or are unsure about what type of work you would like to apply for, keep in mind that as you work on your applications, go to interviews, spend time learning new skills so that when opportunities appear you are prepared. 

It is helpful to reflect and make notes of things that you care about. For example, what things matter most to you? What kind of things inspire you, that you know you can put the effort in for the long term? 

The workplace is changing, and we need to be willing and interested in life long learning to be prepared to deal with changes.   

Learn from setbacks: The job application process can be challenging, particularly when receiving rejection letters or no responses. It is understandable to feel disappointed, frustrated or concerned about the chances of having a positive response soon. 

Acknowledging our disappointment and frustration helps to reduce tension. Reframe the situation and keep in mind that it does not mean that you do not have an opportunity if nothing is coming up yet. Often, it is because there are many applying for similar jobs.  

Avoid comparisons: Everyone is on a different path, have different preferences and different circumstances. So, when your friends or other students say they have a job, it does not mean that you are falling behind.

Many factors are influencing the job application process. Maintain your focus on what you are learning and what you can do next to make progress. 

It is essential to redefine the word success and focus instead on what matters to you. You can think about it as “I’m learning something, I’m achieving something. I’m moving forward and making progress. I’m going in the direction of the things that are interesting matter most to me.”

Look after yourself: Acknowledging that we are humans and need time to recover energy and create mental space to think. Take time away from screens and spend time reflecting on what matters to you.  Self-care is essential for our wellbeing, so maintain healthy habits to restore your energy as it is vital to be well, be creative and problem-solve effectively. 

Become your best friend. Learning to support your effort can make a significant difference to your motivation and health. It reduces stress, and it helps to manage worry thoughts.

Seek support: Get more information to expand your resources, as well as discuss ideas and options. 

Whenever possible, contact the organisations to get feedback to learn what you can do differently next time. Contact the  Careers service to discuss your applications or prepare for an interview. You can also access online resources to support you through the application process.

Connect with others and discuss your ideas to get a different perspective. Also, spend time with people you trust and provide support to manage this stage. Keep in mind this is a journey and every step is a learning opportunity. 
All the best for the future. 

Reference:

Bridges, W. (2004) Transitions. Making sense of life´s changes. Massachusetts: Da Capo Press.

Be well and do well: Benefits of self-care

Be well and do well: Benefits of self-care

At this time of term most are busy managing a demanding workload. It is a good time to remind ourselves of the benefit of looking after ourselves so that we can do well and keep well.

This week is University Mental Health day (4.3.21), and the university has organised activities to celebrate this event. The purpose is to raise awareness of the challenges of mental health problems, increase our understanding, and remind ourselves of the importance of maintaining healthy habits to feel well and do well.  You can also check Student Services blog for links to resources. 
Read more

Unmotivated? Find out how to renew your enthusiasm

Unmotivated? Find out how to renew your enthusiasm

Are you noticing that you do not feel motivated to sit down and start or continue your studies? Are your assignments accumulating? Are you feeling frustrated and concerned about deadlines?

It is not uncommon in the middle of the academic year to feel less motivated. It can be frustrating and worrying to notice deadlines approaching fast, and although you want to do well academically, it is hard to persevere with the work.
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Being resilient in an uncertain world

Being resilient in an uncertain world

At this time of coronavirus, when there are so many changes and uncertainty, we may notice that we can quickly feel irritated or frustrated.

For example, when we make plans and things change, and as a result, we may miss out on something important to us. When this happens, it is helpful to acknowledge that we do not have control over some events and the changes that come with them. 

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