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UK Coaching Marketing and Communications Team
Developing Mindsets Self-care and development

Resilience-Building Toolkit

Blake Richardson provides simple strategies to help you strengthen your emotional resilience

Whoever said the secret to happiness is helping others should have qualified this statement with the following proviso: on the condition that you remember to put your own interests first.

Giving may be a gift that gives back but you will be in a far better position to help and support others if you prioritise your own happiness and well-being.

Coaches can sometimes lose sight of that fact, devoting so much time and energy to other people that their own mental health and emotional well-being is prone to suffer.

And if you are unhappy, irritable or emotionally drained, how can you give the people you coach your best self?

For intrinsically motivated people like sports coaches, it is imperative they learn strategies to regulate their emotions as a means of recharging and replenishing their well of resilience

Resilience is important as it is the mind’s defence mechanism against adversity. But being resilient doesn’t just help you cope well with setbacks, it is important too for maintaining good health and well-being

The hormones dopamine, serotonin, oxytocin and endorphins play an important role in developing resilience.

Learning strategies to control our thoughts and actions can help trigger the release of these ‘happy hormones’, which then impact positively on our emotions and mood, thereby helping to fill our resilience tank.

Unfortunately, human brains are wired to think negatively, and to change this default setting and transform the way we feel, we must work hard to modify our lifestyle and alter our accustomed behaviour patterns.

And here are a few techniques for doing just that.


Tell your phone to buzz off!

We all experience emotional fatigue, and technology is the major culprit. We have become accustomed to constant stimulation, and it’s frazzling our minds and eroding our levels of resilience.

The pace of 21st century life is relentless enough without being mentally plugged in to our smartphone and tablet 24/7, unable to escape from the vicious cycle of breaking news, social media, inane games and the compulsion to react to emails out of office hours. Your brain can’t switch off if your phone is always switched on. You need to escape its addictive pull. 

So, make a pact with your family to renegotiate the terms and conditions of use you have with your phones. In fact, draw up new wellbeing-friendly contracts for all your devices; such as disabling your notifications and alerts for your various messaging apps and turning off your phone at least two hours before you go to bed. And keep it off overnight – or at least recharge it downstairs while your brain recharges itself upstairs.

“Yes, but I use it as an alarm clock.” Here’s an idea: buy an alarm clock!

To help it become a habit that sticks, give your resolutions a name. Have a regular ‘Do Not Disturb Day’, a ‘Digital Detox’ month. Disconnecting from the digital world will help you sleep better, recharge more deeply and reconnect to your creativity.

Learn to say ‘no’ occasionally

Coaching can be as all-consuming and addictive as technology. Before you know it, you have committed to an ever-increasing number of roles and responsibilities that take up an inordinate amount of your time. As we’ve already touched on, coaches tend to be intrinsically motivated people who don’t like saying no to anybody or anything. Over a period of weeks, months and years, that attitude can take a heavy toll. 

So, next time you are asked to help, for example, with the annual supermarket bag-pack club fundraiser, politely decline. If you have built a good relationship with your team’s parents, don’t worry, they won’t tell you to pack your bags!

And then, instead, go out for Sunday lunch; go for a relaxing walk; have a relaxing bath; read a good book; spend some quality time with friends or family; or engage in some other form of activity that will activate the flow of those essential resilience-replenishing happiness hormones. 

Learn to compartmentalise coaching tasks

As important as it is to know when to switch off your phone, it is just as crucial to know when you should switch off, removing yourself from all coaching distractions and successfully separating your professional and private life in order to strike the right work-life balance.

Block time on your calendar to manage your weekly coaching duties and administrative tasks. Having a set routine for designated tasks on designated days (session planning, e-mails to parents, team feedback or personalised support) will help you relax, enjoy your down time and allow your mind to let go of the stresses of the day. It will also help you give your full attention to your to-do list when you do get down to business, allowing you to get more done.

Studies suggest it takes an average of 23 minutes to refocus on your original task after an interruption, so being deliberate with your time will guard against the constant distractions of e-mails, random texts and the obsession of replying to posts on Facebook and WhatsApp Groups.


Start a Gratitude Diary

Writing a list of things you feel grateful for, and explaining why, is another sure-fire way to get those hormones circulating around your bloodstream.

When we think about good things, good things happen. This attitude of gratitude helps to top up our resilience reservoir. 

Use this simple four-step framework: Search it, notice it, celebrate it, savour it. 

If you remember from the opening paragraphs, thoughts have a direct impact on our emotions and behaviours; hence, savouring positive emotions elevates our mood and kick-starts a positive chain reaction leading to tangible positive effects on our physical health and psychological wellbeing.

Spend several minutes every day jotting down things you are thankful for. It could be people, places or events from that day or a nostalgic moment from your past. Perhaps a photograph, conversation or television programme has jogged a happy memory, or your thoughts focus on a coaching incident or nature-related sensory experience from which you derived pleasure or amusement. 

Over time this routine of reflection, and crucially, the act of writing it down – which is key to leaving an indelible impression, as action speaks louder than thoughts – helps to carve new neural pathways that reinforce positive thinking. 

It can be done any time of day: in the morning before work to put a spring in your step, or before bedtime to help you get a deeper night’s sleep, with the result that you wake up more refreshed.

Surround yourself with positive people

We all know fully paid-up members of the ‘glass half empty’ brigade. If you surround yourself with emotional drains on a regular basis, they will sap your energy and chip away at your resilience. 

Seek out, where possible, people with a realistic sense of optimism, who are upbeat and have a positive outlook on life. Positivity is contagious, and such people will help to bring the best out of you so you are in the right frame of mind to bring the best out of others and spread a bit of happiness.

Much is made of our frenetic lifestyles and our culture of perfectionism, which breeds dissatisfaction and anguish. And it has already been noted that negative emotions are an inseparable part of the human condition, meaning anxieties and worries have a habit of sticking to us like shadows. Surrounding ourselves with people who add fun and energy into our lives rather than doom-mongers who suck happiness out of situations allows us to lighten that daily load – and serves as another example of how, by taking decisive action, our thoughts and feelings will naturally start to align with our new positive behaviour.

Building Resilience Series

Resilience & Well-being

We explain what resilience is and why learning emotional agility is important to those working in the coaching sector

Part One

Self-Care Strategies

Transferable techniques that can be used to develop resilience in yourself and in the people you work with 

Part Two

Finding Your Stretch Zone

Understanding the difference between healthy stretch and unhealthy strain

Part Three

Next Steps

More suggestions you can incorporate into your coaching that will contribute positively to developing people’s resilience

In Practice

Top 10 Qualities You Need to be a Coach

Golden nuggets of advice that will help you build a toolkit of essential skills and behaviours so you can tackle any coaching challenge

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UK Coaching Marketing and Communications Team