Tag Archives: mentalhealth

Resilience Alphabet – Q is for Questions and Quote

On this weekend, when many will celebrate Easter, I wonder what questions are bubbling around for you. As we continue to think about personal resilience, I would encourage you to adopt the sentiment of this Quote. We have so many questions bombarding us at this time, fuelled perhaps by the media, or by our own concerns about our health and the safety of those we love, the security of our work, cancelled holidays, questions of faith, questions about the well-being of our children, and so the list goes on.

Quotes that work for me become something I return to, and ponder, and reflect on, and think about from different perspectives. During a particularly difficult period of time for me, I used the following quote as a touchstone: “All will be well, and all manner of things will be well.” (Julian of Norwich). It is a statement of belief, beyond the circumstances of life. I frequently remind myself of these words in times of uncertainty or challenge around the big topics of life.

Right now there are many things that remain unsolved in our hearts. The invitation in the quote above to “Live in the Question” rather than to seek to resolve all the uncertainties of this time is wise advice.

If I have a tip for today in terms of your personal resilience, go and find a quote from your faith or life’s philosophy that resonates for you right now and put it up in your kitchen or somewhere you will see as you pass through the day. And at least for the holiday weekend, go and simply live in the midst of all the questions you may have right now, there will be time for answers on another day. This too will pass… and as always Stay Safe.

Resilience Alphabet – P is for Pause and Praise

All over the country last night, as has become a national habit, people were clapping for those who are seeking to look after us in many ways during this time. As in all times of crisis, there are many hidden heroes and in your own way you may be one of them, quietly getting on with something important, and something that needs to be done.

Today in terms of personal resilience I want to encourage you to Pause for a different reason: to take the time to consider how you have fared over the last three weeks; to recognise those things you have done that have strengthened your resilience and to recommit to making some of them a daily habit. In times of high stress, we need to practise habits of high self-care, as there are so many possibilities for having our energy and resources zapped! So pause and form a new commitment to what you know enables you to take a break from all that is happening.

And turning to the second word, I wonder how readily you give praise, and how readily you receive praise. Today’s mission is to find or better still create opportunities to say thank you to the many people who are making your life brighter during these times when we are all adjusting to new ways of living our life. Maybe you can even set yourself a target of 5 or 10 people you want to acknowledge and thank for how they are making a difference to you during this time.

So as you Pause and set good habits for your self-care, and seek opportunities to praise and thank people for a jobs large and small, be kind to your too and as always Stay Safe.

Resilience Alphabet – O is for Openness

If I had been asked to write an article called “A week in the life of an Executive Coach” a few weeks ago, I imagine it would have been very different to the one I would write if I were to focus on the last three weeks. The scale of the challenges clients are facing, the speed of change, and the need to make critical decisions with wide-ranging consequences have never been experienced by most of us in our lifetime.

Some of you will know that I am accredited in Conversational Intelligence®, the work of Judith Glaser, which looks amongst other things at how we build trust as human beings through the openness and transparency of our conversations. That work has never been more relevant than it is today.

In terms of personal resilience one of the best things we can do right now from a well-being point of view is be open about (1) how we are today, (2) what we are feeling, and (3) what our hopes and plans are for going forward. This degree of openness comes more naturally to some than others. Some will immediately go into thoughts when we ask them how they are feeling. The answer to the feeling question is best described in one word. If we spent just a fraction of the time we spend on media input on being open with each other and ourselves we would release some of the personal pressure we are all feeling.

In my work with clients I often say of difficult thoughts and feelings that “it is better out than in”, that is, it is better to be expressed. Whether that is releasing these thoughts and feelings through talking it out, writing it out, exercising it out or whatever. Letting the steam out a little at a time is way more helpful than holding it in until it explodes.

It is not brave to ignore the elephant of fear and threat that is in the room. Courage is acknowledging it and working together to navigate the current situation in spite of it. Take care today to ensure that as you listen to the feelings of others, you are open about what you feel too. Be open, and as always stay safe.

Resilience Alphabet – N is for ‘No’

There is a well known saying “If you need something done, ask a busy person.” The last few weeks have created an interesting phenomenon in the workplace, and perhaps elsewhere. Some people are working 16 hour days and have done so for the last 16 or so days in order to give us our best chance of a good health outcome from COVID-19 aka known as staying alive. At the same time others are feeling stir crazy because of the guidance to stay at home, work from home, have the kids at home, and only exercise once a day.

One of the keys to personal resilience right now is the ability to know when to say No! That takes me to a question I haven’t answered in these posts. “What’s so important about personal resilience?”. Our bodies are designed to respond to crisis. What they are not designed for is to deal with high levels of stress over a prolonged period of time. At the very least we’re looking at being in this state for a few months rather than a few weeks.

A long time ago I was asked a question: “What is your ‘Yes’ worth if you don’t say ‘No’?” It is, and always has been, important to say ‘No’ to some things in order to say ‘Yes’ to what’s important. If we fail to make this distinction, we will simply arrive at overload, particularly in times of high stress.


This morning I said ‘No’ to something I would ordinarily have said a resounding ‘Yes’ to. In terms of personal resilience, what may you need to say ‘no’ to at this time, in order to ensure you have time and energy for the ‘Yes’ that only you can provide. Take time to re-evaluate your current priorities this morning, and when you say ‘no’ know that it is for a more impactful ‘yes’.

Resilience Alphabet – M is for Move

I wonder how well you have been taking care of your own resilience over the last couple of weeks amidst all the pressures you may be facing, particularly if you are on the front line of dealing with COVID-19. Some simple measures can help you to counter all of the negative messaging and fears of the current situations, and I’m sure we all have our own tried and tested ways of supporting ourselves in difficult times.

M is an easy letter to find words for when we think about personal resilience – I have still X to come! I’ve chosen move. It’s such a simple thing to do even when our movements are restricted in so many ways.  If you are working from home and largely focussed on a laptop just now you will know how easy it is to be stationary for long chunks of the day. Here are some things to think about.

1. Create a standing desk with the ironing table – anything that restricts its normal use is worthwhile! One of my clients added hat boxes to get the correct height.
2. Set a Sports watch (if you have one) or a timer on your phone to ring every 45 minutes and at the very least at that time go for a walk round you house.
3. Ensure that no matter how busy or distracted you are you use your one permitted slot of exercise every day
4. If you are really adventurous, join the hordes up and down the country who are exercising with Joe Wicks every morning at 9am
5. Find a pair of skipping ropes… or a rope of any kind in the garage
6. Dig out a ball – or three balls and learn to juggle
7. Find someone in your household to play Twister or the Cereal box game
8. Put on your favourite dance music and dance like a mad thing
9. Get out into the green gym if you have one
10. Start a Couch to 5K programme using your one exercise slot a day

I’ve had a frozen shoulder since January and I know how hard it is to move a part of your body that has decided it’s not co-operating. Overcoming out mental barriers are way much more difficult! So commit to doing one thing today on the list, or some other way of getting moving that will remind your body that it was made for moving. And as always, stay safe.

Resilience Alphabet – K is for Kind

If you have been following this Blog, you will know that one of the hashtags is #bekindtoyoutoo. So you will not be surprised that today we are thinking about kindness in all its forms. I’m reminded of a quote by the Dalai Lama: “Be kind whenever possible, it is always possible.”

We have heard in recent days of many acts of practical kindness by people of all ages, faiths, cultures and a range of other adjectives too many to mention. Our consciousness has been heightened about the vulnerability of certain groups of people; we have been mindful of the needs of our friends and families; we have perhaps found ways of supporting those who suddenly had a day job at home at the same time they are trying to adjust to the new role of ‘teacher’, ‘mentor’, and ‘nursery teacher’.

So today, the action is simple… Find a way today to be kind to someone else, and find a way today to be kind to you too! I had the delight yesterday of discovering a bag sitting on my door step. As I carefully opened it, being mindful that the exterior bag may be contaminated, I found a Note, a Card and a Gift. The note said – this has been sitting with your name on it since before COVID-19, so what’s inside will not need decontaminated! A beautiful gift – and a wonderful surprise, from someone passing by on an essential outing.


In the midst of all the acts of kindness you have done this week motivated by compassion, care, and a desire to help others, take time today to offer that same level of compassion and care to yourself. I wonder what difference that will make to your day: I know it will make a difference to your personal resilience.

Resilience Alphabet – H is for Hopefulness

This is the start of the second week of us thinking about Personal Resilience. How do you counter so much fear, anxiety and worry in the environment right now, to ensure your own well-being whilst keeping your head out of the sand?

Over the course of the last week I’ve had a lot of contact with individuals and teams of people and it is striking that some are working full out to give all of us the best chance of staying safe; some are prepared and waiting with increased capacity; some are self-isolating or home-working with or without children; and some are living alone. To some extent all of these people are dealing with the emerging challenge.

My curiosity is roused to wonder how much Hope and Hopefulness has played a part in your mental landscape this week. And if so, what is it you hope for? For me, Hope is, and always has been under-rated. As human beings we have the ability to future focus, and imaginations to allow us to experience the full range of thoughts and emotions of some imaginary place and time, and research confirms our future imaginings are as powerful as actually having the experience.

One of the best things you can do right now to protect and enhance your resilience is learn the art of Hopefulness. We do that by focussing and giving airtime to the hopes we have for future times, even in times of challenge and when we are worried about what is happening. It is not some kind of denial of what is: it is an expectation and a state of being that accepts what is whilst at the same time creates a positive mental space of future hopes, future activities and future plans.

Take some time today with a cup of tea or coffee, and pen and paper and just dream and hope and give your brain the chance to be filled with possibility and hopefulness. What steps are you taking at the moment to give yourself space to hope? Share your strategies in the comments below, and as always stay safe.

Resilience Alphabet – D is for Downtime

I spoke with a client last Monday morning who was onto her 14th Day in a row at work. I imagine given the role she has that if I were to speak to her tomorrow that number may well have gone up to 21. This post is dedicated to those like her for whom a day off right now would feel like an opportunity to get ahead of the wave for all of us had been missed.

At the same time, for many people staying safe means spending much more time at home, and potentially with much more time to do things we would only have dreamed of two weeks ago.
For me downtime is being engaged in an activity where I am so absorbed in what I am doing that normal thought is suspended. There is a lot of evidence to confirm that doing something that gets us into that state of flow has exponential benefits for our health, well-being, brain, emotional health, the list goes on. For me that can be getting lost in a book, playing piano, counted cross-stitch, being in the garden and getting my hands into earth! The paints have not come out yet… but they might!

If you know me well, you will know I am a planner! I have a white board in my kitchen right now that I’m populating with little things that I could do in a short period where I want to change focus from the ‘big stuff of life’ and engage in a period of downtime. I also have a personal list of things I have decided I will do every day to create a sense of routine during this period when normal routines have been suspended.

So I am encouraging you to sit down and write a list of the things that you know take you to that place of downtime – when you are completely absorbed and focussed on what you are doing. This is the opportunity to take a break from all that surrounds us in terms of visual and mental stimulus right now; to shut out the noise; to suspend fear and simply be absorbed in your own form of downtime. No matter how busy you are – be intentional about engaging in one of your downtime activities every day. The picture was taken in a walk in Angus earlier this year.

I invite you to share in the comments what you have done today that has helped you to have a mental holiday or a dose of downtime… and stay safe!