Resilience- What tools can I add to my toolbox?

Resilience- What tools can I add to my toolbox?


Resilience, our ability to ‘bounce back’ from adversity. This topic is at the forefront at the moment given the times. People are feeling the unsurmountable pressure  to carry on with their ‘normal’ lives in very ‘unnatural’ ways. So, we thought we would pop a few ideas together to support the growth of resilience. But lets also remember, it’s understandable to be experiencing low mood, low motivation and general life fatigue at the moment.

Did you have lots of ‘tools’ in your resilience toolbox prior to lockdown? This is the experience of many people, similarly, people had just started to improve their health and wellbeing with extra activities, exercise classes and increasing social connections and now it has all stopped. Whilst many of the online alternatives don’t feel the same, there are things we can do in and out of lockdown to enhance our wellbeing. We will be sharing resources and exercises throughout the rest of the month to support you.


Mindfulness is the practice of bringing our awareness to what we are experiencing in the present, both internally and externally, without judgment (Kornfield, 2009).

It has been linked to resilience as being mindful aims to broaden and build inner resources strengthening ‘bounce back ability’ (Fredrickson, 2001).

Research has suggested that working on becoming more mindful breeds resilience, Bajaj and Pande (2016) conducted a study which found that people with higher levels of mindfulness had greater resilience and therefore increased their life satisfaction. This research supported the use of mindfulness training as a way to build resilience and enhance personality characteristics such as optimism and patience. Something we may all need a bit more of at the moment!

There has been a move towards mindfulness-based resilience training in workplaces as it has been found that using mindfulness at work can increase psychological flexibility within a workplace setting (Joyce et al, 2018). Research suggests that training such as this, which cultivates resilience through mindfulness exercises, may assist in preventing psychological distress and burnout in the workplace (Harker, 2016)


Self-compassion is the ability to treat yourself with the same care and kindness as you would a good friend. (Lilley, 2019). Self-compassion is especially important within the workplace, a place where performance and targets are at the forefront. ‘Being kinder to yourself’ has been linked to developing emotional resilience, with research showing that people who score high on self-compassion; cope better with adversities, take more personal initiative and responsibility, are less fearful of making mistakes, a more emotionally intelligent as well as take better care of themselves physically and emotionally. (Buth, Mullarkey and Lathren, 2018).

Mindset Change / Cognitive Restructuring

A mindset is defined as a core belief system that filters our perceptions of what is true and acts as an inner compass to shape our choices of response to those perceptions (Dweck, 2006). The type of mindset that is adopted by an individual can affect how individuals react to challenges and their resilience in life. Dweck (2006) states that moving from a fixed mindset to a growth mind set allows individuals to view challenges as a learning opportunity, a growth opportunity and unsurprisingly leads to individuals feeling more resilient.

“Changing your mindset is not the only way to cultivate resilience and well-being. But it comes as close to guaranteed as anything I’ve ever come across”.

Research has suggested that a growth mindset can be promoted / developed to create more resilience. Encouraging a growth mindset in students  leads them to being more likely to achieve their goals whilst also increasing their resilience to challenges (Yeager and Dweck, 2012).

Cognitive restructuring was developed by Ellis in the mid-50s and is a way to challenge unhappy and disturbing automatic beliefs to reframe them in a more positive light. Cognitive restructuring is often used as part of Cognitive Behaviour Therapy, as it works to build resilience by creating a change in the way individuals view negative situations. Other therapies such as wellbeing therapy have used cognitive restructuring in the aim to increase resilience. (Fava and Tomba, 2009).


Resilience Enhancing Imagery is a cognitive-imaginal technique which aims to help tackle situations that lower resilience and increase stress (Palmer, 2013). This technique involves picturing resilient outcomes to challenges, encouraging them to associate the resilient coping methods with their current problems. This technique increases the resilience of individuals who are overwhelmed by a series of events.

Guided Imagery is another form of relaxation technique that involves bringing your body into a more relaxed state to build resilience over time (Smith, 1990). Guided imagery involves using positive thoughts and images to replace thoughts of anxiety and anger in difficult situations, this is a way to stimulate the brain and create a calm and peaceful physical state. Guided imagery has found to be effective in increasing resilience as well as improving how individuals deal with stress (Jenkins, 2012).

Flexible Thinking

Flexible thinking is the ability to see things from different perspectives and find alternative approaches to the challenges that people face. Flexible thinking has been linked to resilience as it has been seen as an important aspect in individuals becoming ‘unstuck’ and effectively dealing with challenges, especially within the workplace (WRAW, 2019).

Metzl (2009) found that flexible and creative thinking was a significant predictor in life satisfaction, higher levels of resilience and higher levels of wellbeing. The study suggested that flexible thinking plays a crucial role of increasing resilience after stressful life events. Further research has suggested that by adopting more flexible thinking within the workplace, it can increase your resilience and can begin to shape work outcomes (McEwen, 2011).

Being clear on your values

Individuals use their personal values as a way to look at situations and form thoughts of what that means for the individual. Le Fevre (2017) found that by understanding your most important values it can buffer psychological stress, stating that being aware of your values stops the brain producing overwhelming amounts of cortisol therefore allowing you to think clearly. McEwan (2011) suggests that by embracing our values we are able to think clearly which is an important part of resilience as it gives us the capacity to manage situations.

Creswell et al (2005) conducted a study which found that individuals who were clear about their values made better decisions. They also had reduced being a stress levels.

Acceptance and commitment therapy use values as tools to help individuals live their lives in accordance to the values which are most important to them. This focus on values has found that acceptance and commitment therapy can contribute to building greater resilience, improve optimism and lower depression scores.

We will be sharing our resources surrounding these evidenced based approaches throughout July and we hope they can support you and workplaces’ wellbeing during this time.

Amy & Samantha

The importance of social connection

The importance of social connection

“Relationships are themselves a crucial part of psychological wealth, without which you cannot be truly rich”

Ed Diener & Robert Biswas-Diener


We are social beings. We rely upon our emotional connection with others in order to survive. Emotions are seemingly contagious for that very reason, to enable us to transfer any feelings of imminent threat to our companions so we can ‘get the hell out of there’ or ‘get ready for a fight’.

As humans, we are more than just emotional transferers, we are story tellers, we are listeners. We are responsible, not only for our own happiness, but the happiness of others. Again, the happiness of others lead to social bonds which enables survival. We need social bonds throughout our lifespan, to thrive and without these social bonds, we can feel negative and painful emotions. Similarly, we are understandably distressed when we experience conflict with others or where bonds are broken. Loneliness, or a temporarily loss of connection can be a precipitating factor for depression or anxiety, not to mention perpetuating any mental ill health a person may already be experiencing.

Even with our innate drive to connect, we appear to be losing some of the key skills that we need to enhance this connection. We are growingly becoming emotional disconnected. Disconnected, due to not being present, by being distracted, by not actively listening or by not showing empathy and compassion. The use of technology perpetuates this, where we may be remotely connected but that primitive emotional bond is not shared. We are often, simply cognitively connecting.

“Connection is why we’re here. It’s what gives us purpose and meaning to our lives”

Brené Brown.


The Action for Happiness movement identifies that relationships are one of the key factors for happiness. They describe connections are important for belonging, growth and meaning. We also know social integration has many other physical health benefits. We are more likely to have reduced stress levels and stronger immune systems if we have good social bonds.


How do we strengthen our bonds?

Social connection


  • Listen

Put down your phone, look away from your computer, reduce distractions and be present. Listening effectively means showing genuine interest in what that person has to say and giving someone your full attention.

            Tips for good listening

  1. Find a place to talk away from distractions
  2. Use good eye contact
  3. Summarise what the person says, this emphasises how well you have listened.
  4. Show empathy (if appropriate)
  5. Be aware of your body, be open, don’t fold your arms, sit slightly to the side or walk side by side.
  6. Ask open questions
  7. Be aware of your judgements and don’t verbalise them.
  • Give positive feedback

Not only is it important to support our friends and family during times of hardship, it is equally important to be enthusiastic when they achieve or experience good news.

  • Be interpersonally effectively

We all experience challenges and conflicts in our relationships, we need to raise them to move forward and grow. The ability to communicate effectively and manage conflict is a skill. A great tool which people always find helpful comes from the world of Dialectal Behaviour Therapy. DEARMAN provides a great framework where you can raise issues, whilst maintaining self-respect.

  • Show gratitude

Share how much you appreciate people. Thank them for the positive contributions they make to your life. A text, a letter or a simple gift to express your gratitude can be so powerful and it may encourage others to do the same. Even better, do it face to face!!

Example message…

“I just wanted to take the time to say…I appreciate you, thank you for everything you do, its means so much”

Take a look at action for happiness’ challenge to get people to show appreciation for others


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Get active in January, get active all year!

Get active in January, get active all year!

Let’s get active all year round!

Every year, I start out in January with the intention of being fitter, stronger and more flexible than the previous. And, secretly hoping that I will slide into the jeans I have kept on my ‘just in case of a severe virus’ pile.

How do I get on? Probably like the other 80% of people starting out their New Year with unachievable goals…not the best! To improve on this, I thought I would do a bit of research about how we can start building better habits in 2020. It feels like a good year to start. A new decade for greatness.

 Habits are very difficult to form, especially if we start out with a goal that is beyond our reach. If we were to aim to start January hoping to lose 15lb in 3 days or run a marathon by day 7 (when we are a complete novice), we would be pretty disappointed. Why? Because, as humans we tend to enjoy instant gratification, so whilst the long-term gain is great, we need to consider the smaller benefits in the interim to reduce the likelihood of giving up.


We can do this by considering exercise and its instant and long-term benefits. Research is not limited in highlighting the importance of exercise for our overall health and wellbeing and what I have been most interested in of late is the profound impact exercising can have on our mental and emotional fitness. Particularly, our happiness and general positivity. This can be seen instantly, therefore, if we are mindful of these small change’s we are more likely to continue with our goal.

Benefits of exercise

Short term benefits (post exercise)

Long term benefits

  •     Boosts mood (lots of happy hormones!)
  •     Increased flexibility
  •     Increases confidence & productivity
  •     Increased muscle tone
  •     Improves sleep
  •     Reduces likelihood of heart disease & type 2 diabetes.
  •     Improves concentration
  •     Increases chance of living longer
  • Boosts metabolism
  • Strengthens bones

Like every year (check out my last years blog), I am going to kick start January, joining the RED community-making sure I get active each day through a variety of activities. But this time, I’m going to make clear goals and monitor my progress so that I see those small changes. Plus, making sure they are achievable goals. Hoping that I can continue this way beyond the January challenge. I want exercising every day to be a habit. I’m not going to focus on an end result, I am going to take it one day at a time, sitting back and considering any benefits I have felt post workout that day. Considering the benefits already highlighted above, I am doing this by monitoring my sleep, mood and self-confidence (via some apps and psychometric assessments)

Research suggests that habits, on average are formed after 66 days (Lally et al, 2009), but what I am really interested in is if a person completes RED January, getting active each day, if they can go on and turn an active January into an active year.

Join me in my quest to complete RED January but also in making resolutions reality.

My next steps are to: –

  1. Sign up to RED at
  2. Download their calendar and make reasonable buildable steps, SMART goals if you like.
  3. Monitor changes (mood, sleep, self-confidence)
  4. Take each day as a step, don’t focus on the end goal, then hopefully achieve that ‘active year’.

Watch this space! I’ll be sharing my progress with the challenge.

Amy H


Wellness in Nottingham- Wellbeing showcase

Wellness in Nottingham- Wellbeing showcase


For immediate release: 12 SEPTEMBER 2019

Organised by a group of health and wellbeing professionals, the aim of the event is to showcase the wellbeing services available to local businesses and organisations in Nottingham.

The collaboration of this team of experts is intended to take the stress away from organisations when trying to navigate the wellbeing services available for their people.

To start this process of awareness raising, the Wellbeing in Nottingham event is being held at Jurys Inn Nottingham Hotel, Station Street, Nottingham on Monday 30 September 2019 from 10:00am to midday.

The idea of showcasing the wealth of wellbeing services on your doorstep for organisations originated with Louise Hallam of Still Calm, who is leading this event.  “We all share a common desire for happy, healthy, satisfying lives for ourselves and others. The W.I.N. event offers hope, fun, information, experience, inspiration and peace for body and mind.”

Tickets are on sale now and can be purchased either through the Facebook page or direct via Eventbrite.


  • Based in Nottingham
  • Established in November 2017
  • Donna Smith specialises in 121 coaching, Transformation packages and her unique Burn Bright Programme.
  • Donna Smithhas a range of experience in Coaching, NLP (Neuro Linguistic Programming) Leadership & Management Development, MBTI certified practitioner, Talent Development, and workshop facilitation.
  • Donna Smith is a former quaPress Release – WIN Event -September 2019lified solicitor and HR professional



  • Founder of Blissful Balance and Positive Pants, Claire’s mission is for everyone to flourish despite the setbacks that mental health issues can bring.
  • Claire is a speaker, and holds workshops for businesses, schools and community groups, providing hands on tools and techniques, and a safe, nurturing space, for each individual to focus on positivity.
  • Claire uses techniques to help you and your team identify your ultimate goal and vision for your business and use creative processes to help you focus and make that dream become reality, whilst enhancing staff wellbeing at the same time.
  • Her vision is to have a network of wellbeing advocates in every workplace.




  • Founder of Still Calm, Louise helps experienced managers and business owners who are drowning in work get a life, by giving them the freedom and balance, to switch off and at least get a good nights sleep.
  • Supporting individuals and teams, Louise brings you and your business increased productivity, effectiveness and efficiency.
  • Having worked in a corporate environment for 20 years, she understands the pressures and demands that can overwhelm in the workplace. Aiming to bring back simpler ways of working and understanding how to get the full potential from every employee.



  • Amy is the director and principal trainer of AV WELLBEING LTD. She has 12 years experience in the healthcare sector, having worked in community and in patient settings.
  • She is trained in a variety of psychotherapeutic models and has delivered therapy to a number of clients with enduring mental health needs.
  • She has trained healthcare professionals in resilience tools and since setting up her own company in 2018 has delivered resilience and mental health training to corporate businesses.
  • She is a wellbeing consultant, supporting businesses to create pledges, update policies and risk assessments in relation to mental health and measure change of any training delivered.
  • She is very passionate about reducing stigma and supporting workplaces to understand, support and empower individuals with mental health needs.


For further information, contact:

Ronnie Harris, VJH Marketing

Tel: 07970 752660






After spending time building the business, I haven’t been posting many blogs (well zero actually) But, I have been planning them! Over the next twelve months I want to share knowledge and skills to promote better mental health and I thought where better to start than talking about something we do up to 23,000 times a day!


We breathe on average between 17,000-23,000 times a day.  This involuntary life sustaining function is controlled via the medulla in the brainstem. However, whilst it is involuntary and our amazing brains keep us ticking, we do have control over our breath. This is only a good thing, because the majority of us are breathing incorrectly, or at least ineffectively.

Stop and think about how you are breathing right now. Are you breathing into the top part of your lungs, rather than deep down into the largest part that expands the ribcage and raises the belly? This is very common. The result of this type of breathing is that we need many more breathes each day than if we were breathing deeply.  Other side effects of shallow breathing are shoulder and neck pain, increased cortisol (stress hormone) and often unbeknown to us, we are triggering our fight-flight-freeze response. Our body thinks we are in threat.

How can we manage this stress response? Not surprising, we need to breathe effectively.

But what is effective breathing?

Evidence tells us that breathing deeply into the belly, expanding the rib cage and engaging the diaphragm can promote better mental and physical health and the Vagus Nerve has a lot to do with it.


The ‘wandering’ parasympathetic nerve that runs around a large part of our body, deep into our gut can be triggered by effective breathing. This is known as our ‘rest and relax’ response. Historically, we thought that breathing into our belly getting enough oxygen was enough, and whilst it’s a pretty good start; if we want to enhance our physical and mental wellness, we want to enhance what is called our Vagal tone. We do this by extending our outbreath. Evidence tells us that having a longer outbreath activates our parasympathetic nervous system, engaging our Vagus nerve and having incredible health benefits. We can improve digestion, reduce our heart rate, increase our respiratory function and even reduce tingling in our extremities.


A technique that you may or may not have heard of in relation to mindfulness, meditation and breathing is the 4-7-8 technique. This technique is an approved military technique and is backed up by a largely body of research as a way to improve sleep and reduce anxiety and depression. Dr Andrew Weil from Harvard is a leading advocate of the technique and states it is a ‘natural tranquilliser for the body’

How to breathe using the 4-7-8 technique

  • Exhale completely thorough your mouth, then place the tip of your tongue to the back of your top teeth
  • Inhale through your nose for 4 seconds, breathing deeply into your lungs expanding the ribcage and raising the belly.
  • Hold that breath for a count of 7
  • Exhale through your mouth slowly for the count of eight seconds expelling all of our breath.




I am so excited to have joined the Action for Happiness movement, co- facilitating an 8 week action for happiness group in Wollaton, Nottingham from 15th May 2019, as part of my aim to improve community wellbeing.


People who know me well, know that I am always banging on about how society and technology have grown way beyond the capabilities of our frontal lobe. With the constant pressures of society, work and family we may often find ourselves in ‘threat mode’ where we are constantly batting off more work, stressful life events and not to mention little people who can never keep a frigging sock on??!!! Being in threat mode, shuts down our ability to problem solve, think clearly, plan rationally and remember what we need to send our children to school in (I wish they would stick to uniform). This ‘shut down’ state is completely understandable when your body is avoiding threat, it’s trying to survive, it doesn’t care about the ‘Easter bonnet parade’ hat you need to make for tomorrow.

As we have seen most recently, mental ill health is a significant public health issue and with workplaces providing more and more mental health training I thought it would be good to support this with community initiatives. one happiness, wellbeing and positivity can come from community wellbeing and local cohesion. So, myself and my wonderful friend thought we would volunteer to run a local Action for happiness group.


The course will run on Wednesdays from 7-9pm on the following dates: 15th May, 22nd May, 5th June, 12th June, 19th June, 26th June, 3rd July and 10th July.

Exploring What Matters is a secular, science-based course for people who want to learn how to live happily and spread happiness to those around them.

It was created by the Action for Happiness charity to help people tune in to what really matters in life, connect with people around them and find small ways to start taking action.

On the course you will:

·      Meet with like-minded people to explore what really matters in life and find new ways of looking at things.

·      Enjoy expert videos, mindfulness exercises and a handbook full of resources to help you break big ideas into manageable chunks.

·      Take time each week to think of small actions you can take to create happiness for yourself and those around you.

People find it really valuable and often refer to what they learn on the course as life-changing.


Each week is based around a big question:

Week 1: What really matters in life?
We’ll explore whether a greater focus on happiness and wellbeing might be better for all of us.

Week 2: What actually makes us happy?
We’ll explore the role of outer circumstances and inner attitudes in our wellbeing.

Week 3: Can we find peace of mind?
We’ll explore some of the skills and practices that can help us in difficult times.

Week 4: How should we treat others?
We’ll explore how to treat others and how we can become more compassionate.

Week 5: What makes for great relationships?
We’ll explore how our relationship to others impacts our own happiness.

Week 6: Can we be happier at work?
We’ll explore what makes us happy at work and what can we do about it.

Week 7: Can we build happier communities?
We’ll explore how to create communities that are more caring, connected and happy.

Week 8: How can we create a happier world?
We’ll explore how to live in a way that contributes to a happier world, not just for ourselves but for others too.

— Click here for a sample of Week 1 to give you an idea of what it’s like —


This course is for anyone interested in exploring how to create happiness for themselves or others.

Maybe you’re someone who could do with some new approaches to try out in your own life.

Or maybe you’re passionate about creating happier communities and a happier world.

Either way, by coming together with others locally on this course you can find the inspiration and support you need find the actions that work for you.

Please note: this course is not group therapy, if you are experiencing severe challenges at the moment we recommend seeking alternative professional support.


It costs Action for Happiness about £90 per person to support each course so we ask all participants to give whatever they can to support themselves and others.

You can choose to either give the recommended donation of £90 or give more or less depending on your circumstances.