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Building resilience

Eight months down the line of COVID-19 and we’re still being confronted with daily uncertainty. This isn’t changing any time soon as we flit from tier to tier, face different travel rules and regs and is it 2 metres or a foot or a footlong? The impact of uncertainty and stress is experienced throughout the body. When we perceive a threat, real or fake news, a biological response is set in motion. Our adrenal glands release cortisol which then fire glucose. The immune system is activated, increasing levels of inflammation. This affects the function of the brain, making us more sensitive to threats and less sensitive to rewards. This has always been the case, from 1920 to 2020, but in this year we had a global pandemic to fight. In practice, this now means that our immune system may be triggered by overhearing the clearing of a throat or by the on-going anonymisation of mask-clad faces.

I think we can all agree on one thing and that’s that there’s no going back to normal. Resilience is a skill that we had to draw upon to deal with the challenges of 2020 and it’s also the skill that’s going to carry us forward into 2021. Even the smallest positive alterations to habit can be hugely effective in building resilience and in the west the closing of a year and the beginning of a new one is an opportune time to start this.

Breathe deeper, foster connections old and new, meditate (even if it’s for only 2.5 minutes), move more, practice gratitude and importantly, observe how that voice inside your head talks to you - is it rude? Demeaning? Can you kill it with kindness? This is nothing new, nothing groundbreaking, but evidence-based, science-backed strategies to build resilience.

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