Growing Resilience Like a Muscle

Posted by: NHS Horizons - Posted on:

Originally published by Kathryn Perera – 5th March 2018

In the School for Change Agents, our working definition of “resilience” is the ability of an individual to adjust to adversity, maintain equilibrium, retain some sense of control over their environment and continue to move on in a positive way. We teach that resilience acts “like a muscle”. It’s something we grow, and something we can strengthen over time through experience.

At NHS Horizons, resilience is the topic that we get asked about most. In the past week alone, here are some of the things people have told me:

  • I thought working in the NHS would give me a feeling of mission and purpose. Now I’m here, I feel so lonely.
  • It’s like nobody understands what I’m trying to do. Or nobody cares.
  • How do I keep going when everyone seems to be knocking me down?

All three statements share a sense of being overwhelmed. Even the idea of ‘building my resilience’ can feel large and too abstract to action. Yet, like physical exercise, the key may be taking small steps – little and often.

I came across this short video recently on the power of short improvisation sessions to build participants’ resilience to anxiety. I love the simplicity of the messages, which I think apply more widely than this one example:

  • Re-frame your fears and challenge by contemplating it head-on.
  • Change one small thing in your weekly routine.
  • Make it social.
  • Be open to where it may take you – if you give it time.

But I especially love it as an example of people sharing a challenge and – through the process of supporting each other – finding a collective resilience that they could not have achieved alone. It’s a classic example of the power of moving from ‘me’ to ‘we’ – which is the central theme of our next School module.

Learn more about why you need a “Spectrum of Allies” from my colleague Leigh Kendall.

Module 4 of The School for Change Agents – From Me to We: Mobilising and Organising will launch on Thursday 8 March at 3pm (UK time). Everyone is welcome!

If you suffer from anxiety the last thing you probably want to do is perform on stage. Even more scary would be to perform on stage without a script. But the people behind this class in Canada think improv might be just what you need.…