The 4 Keys to building Resilience: Key #4 – Looking after yourself

In my introduction to “The 4 Keys to building Resilience”, I mentioned that the keys were as follows:

  • Key #1: Thinking – It’s all about mindset
  • Key #2: Doing – Get moving and set some goals
  • Key #3: Connecting with others and with our higher self
  • Key #4: Renewing – Looking after yourself

So, let’s take a closer look at the final key to building resilience, Key #4 – Looking after yourself.

With the COVID-19 pandemic, it is more important than ever to keep ourselves physically, mentally, emotionally and spiritually fit. It appears that those most vulnerable and hardest hit by the virus are people with underlying medical conditions such as respiratory or cardio-vascular issues. It also appears that people who are fit and have built up their immune systems are recovering faster from COVID-19.

Looking after yourself entails, amongst other things:

  1. Maintaining your self-esteem
  2. Managing your wellbeing
  3. Resisting peer pressure
  4. Knowing when to ask for help

1.  Maintaining your self-esteem

 To build your self-esteem, it is not enough to just think that you are worthy and deserving – you need to act accordingly. For this reason, Nathaniel Branden, author of one of the best books about self-esteem (The Six Pillars of Self-Esteem) talks about the six practices that help build our self-esteem:

The practice of:

  • living consciously – being self-aware and aware of others.
  • self-acceptance – accepting ourselves without judgement and without comparing ourselves with others.
  • self-responsibility – focusing on what we can control, influence or change not on what we can’t.
  • self-assertiveness – sticking to our values and resisting the temptation to do things just to please others or fit in with others.
  • living purposely – having and pursuing goals that are aligned with our values.
  • personal integrity – being real and living in alignment with our authentic selves.

People with high self-esteem:

  • are motivated by who they are not what they are. They are not motivated by power and position.
  • are satisfied with their own efforts and accomplishments. They are not threatened by other people’s success.
  • readily give and accept praise. They are not insecure about themselves nor envious of others.
  • value constructive feedback.
  • do not seek approval from others in order to feel OK about themselves.

     How do you build your self-esteem?

  1. Make a list of the things you are good at. If you find it hard to do this, ask a family member or friend to help you. Read this list every time you feel discouraged.
  2. Look for opportunities to practice the things that you do well.
  3. Watch your self-talk and turn “I can’t” into “I can” or “I can give it a try” or “I’ll give it my best”.
  4. Try your best. Remember that no one achieved anything without effort. Think of a time you put in a big effort and it was worth it. How did you feel?
  5. Avoid negative people or people that are jealous or envious of you. Spend more time with people who love you.
  6. Do things for others. When you do kind things, you feel better about yourself.

A great way to build your resilience when faced with a challenge or a tough obstacle is to make a list of 3 or 4 similar issues you have faced in the past.

Then ask yourself how you managed to solve the problem.

Finally ask yourself how you felt when you did.

2.  Managing your wellbeing

 Managing your wellbeing is about getting balance in your life between work, your family, your friends, your sporting activities, your hobbies, eating healthily, getting enough sleep etc. Spending too much time on one or two things at the expense of others can cause us to feel out of control or even anxious about the things we are neglecting.

A good exercise is to stop every now and then and examine where your time and energy is going, what’s working for you and what is not. You can do this by rating each area on a scale of 1 to 10, 1 being “I’m spending very little time and energy” and 10 being “I’m spending a lot of time and energy”. Then decide which areas you would like to put more energy into and set some goals to achieve this. You may even want to do a balance wheel that helps to give you a visual picture of your current state of balance:

How does YOUR balance wheel look and what would you like to change?

Set some goals and make some affirmations to accelerate your progress.

Check out this link:

Meditation is another great practice. Meditation entails using techniques such as deep breathing or focusing your mind on a particular object, thought or activity, to achieve a mentally clear and emotionally calm state. It has both physical and mental health benefits and can help manage the symptoms of many health conditions including:  anxiety, depression, heart disease, high blood pressure, pain, and sleep problems.

Some excellent meditation Apps are:

  • Calm
  • Rthm
  • Headspace
  • Happify
  • Buddhify

3.  Resisting peer pressure

 Giving in to peer pressure is OK if we are put under pressure by others to do what’s right. It is not OK when our peers put pressure on us to do what is wrong. Making decisions on your own is hard enough, but when other people get involved and put pressure on us to go along with things to “be cool” or be accepted, its often difficult to resist. Why? Because we want to be liked, or because others may make fun of us if we don’t go along with them, or because it may be good to try something new that everyone is doing irrespective of whether it is good to be doing it.

During this COVID-19 pandemic, it is important to accept that everyone will have their own way of coping and to respect without judgement how people are feeling. Some will be fearful and ultra-cautious. Others will be complacent and appear brazen or reckless. Don’t judge others but by the same token don’t be apologetic for the way you are thinking, feeling and acting. This is an unprecedented crisis.

So, how do you resist peer pressure?

Paying attention to your own feelings and beliefs about what is right and wrong can help you know the right thing to do. Inner strength and self-confidence can help you stand firm, walk away, and resist doing something when you know better.

It can really help to have at least one other peer, or friend, who is willing to say “no” too. This takes a lot of the power out of peer pressure and makes it much easier to resist. It’s great to have friends with values similar to yours who will back you up when you don’t want to do something. Even if you’re faced with peer pressure while you’re alone, there are still things you can do. You can simply stay away from peers who pressure you to do things you know is wrong for you. You can tell them “no” and walk away. Better yet, find other friends and colleagues who share your values.

If you continue to face peer pressure and you’re finding it difficult to handle, talk to someone you trust. Don’t feel guilty if you’ve made a mistake or two. Talking to a family member, colleague or friend can help you feel much better and prepare you for the next time you face peer pressure.

4.  Knowing when to ask for help

We all go through tough times and sometimes can’t solve problems by ourselves. It is courageous to ask for help if you need it. There is always someone who can help you…


In conclusion

It is appropriate to be concerned about others right now – our children, our elderly parents, our siblings, our friends, our colleagues, our valiant health care workers. What we must guard against is the risk of not looking after ourselves.

When we are given the safety briefing on a flight, we are told that in the event that the cabin pressure drops, oxygen masks will drop from above us and we should first help ourselves before attending to others. When faced with challenges or adversity, we need to be up for the challenge.

Please look after yourselves during these challenging times. Get out there and take a nice long walk preferably on your own. Put on some headphones and listen to beautiful music whilst you are walking. Or simply practice mindfulness whilst you are walking. A great exercise is experiencing your walk fully through your senses whilst you are walking – observe what your eyes are seeing; smell what your nose is smelling; listen to what what your ears are hearing; feel what your body is feeling and repeat the process so that you become fully aware of the walking experience rather than tossing around your worries and concerns.

I hope that the 4 Keys to Building Resilience has been helpful during these challenging times.

I would like to encourage you with the thought that we are amazingly resilient. However, please don’t wait until you are in crisis to access your resilience. Build strong reserves in anticipation of life’s challenges and obstacles so that you can face these with a greater degree of composure. And follow your dreams with hope and confidence and turn your dreams into reality.

You now have the 4 Keys. Use them to unblock your obstacles and to unlock your potential.

Stay safe, stay well and stay on the path towards the fulfilment of your dreams and aspirations.

May we all get through these difficult times with renewed energy, strength and wisdom.

Alex Paizes
Leadership Development Specialist

Alex is a highly experienced leadership development facilitator and coach based in Perth.