How to Build Resilience During Isolation

By Dr Phil Clarke

Hopefully, you have started to come to terms with the current situation during the past couple of weeks and started to make use of the tips from my last two articles: Looking After Your Mental Health And Wellbeing In Lockdown and How To View Isolation And Lockdown As An Opportunity.

Something that is integral to dealing with the current level of uncertainty is resilience. When it comes to resilience there is a myth that you either have it or you don’t. In fact, resilience is something you develop over time by problem-solving and learning from experience how to manage difficult situations.

Here are five tips on resilience based on leading research.

  1. Recognition of who you need for your social support

The importance of staying connected when we are in isolation is vital, as I have pointed out in my last two articles. It is great to connect to people, but you need to recognise WHO in your social support group can provide the different types of support you need. By recognising this you will be able to focus on who can help with specific needs. For example, who is your ‘go to’ person for emotional support? Is it your partner, a close relative or your best friend? So, for this task, who in your current network is your ‘go to’ for the following:

  • Emotional support
  • General wellbeing and esteem
  • Information
  • Motivational support
  • Tangible/ physical support
  1.  Being proactive for the future

I have said before that this situation has allowed us to have more time to try new things – if we want to. It also gives us the chance to plan for personal development. For many of us we have focused on work, but now we have time to really think about life outside work. You can look at the different paths that will help you to achieve a happy, well-balanced life and the methods you will need to get there, such as delegation, relaxation and time management. You can also put plans in place for how you can upskill in areas of development in a professional capacity.

  1. Choices rather than sacrifices 

We are all making sacrifices to stay safe and to keep others safe. Be aware of the different sources of motivation (internal and external) and the implications these can have on the decisions we are making. Are you taking risks for an external reward, when this isn’t the smart decision to make? We always have a choice in every decision we make, so consider the options you have available to make the most of the situation, rather than focusing on everything you are potentially missing out on or sacrificing in the current situation. The power is in the choice!

  1. The environment is key 

So, one of the biggest factors in developing resilience is the environment we set up for ourselves. This relates to point 1. How can we support others to be more resilient? Think about your colleagues, associates, relatives and friends. When do we challenge people and when do we support them? When we consider challenge, this relates to having high expectations of others, while support refers to being a voice of support for others to develop their skills and personal qualities. So, it’s important to consider how much challenge and support you have available to you and the key people in your life. By supporting others, we can get a lot of energy and satisfaction back in return.

  1. Adaptability

Resilience is not being positive when faced with adversity – it is maintaining performance during adversity when we are faced with negative thoughts and responses etc. When you start to think negatively, ask yourself: “Is there another way to look at this situation?” So instead of just trying to be positive, recognise that there is always a different way to look at the situation.  As I said in point 3 – you always have a choice.

DR Phil Clarke

Dr Phil Clarke is the Sport Psychology Lead at the Derbyshire Institute of Sport and Lecturer in Sport, Exercise and Performance Psychology at the University of Derby Online Learning. Through this website and our social media channels, he will be sharing his thoughts on a range of topics as we travel through the current crisis together. 

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