How to build resilience and adaptability for the 'new normal'

2 years ago   •   3 min read

By Sarah Lewis

Lockdown looks set to be easing, but that doesn’t mean we are back to normal. We need to think about a new normal, which involves living with the reality of coronavirus, both personally and in our businesses. Navigating it will take resilience and adaptability, writes psychologist Sarah Lewis

What helps us be more resilient and adaptable?

Resilience is about having the resources to cope with unexpected, difficult or adverse situations. If we are aware of all the resources we have at a particular moment, we will be able to deploy them more efficiently, and by doing so, foster our resilience and our ability to bounce-back from adversity.

Being adaptable means being able to quickly and appropriately change our behaviour when circumstances change. For example, at present people are having to find different ways to manage their work, possibly while also having to manage their children’s education. For both resilience and adaptability, being resourceful is key.

In order to discover your resourcefulness and boost our resilience and adaptability, we all have the following personal resources we can call on:

It’s important to recognise our own strengths to boost our confidence and recover more quickly from setbacks. We are likely to solve a problem in a more efficient way if the solution is linked to at least one of our strengths. 

Our Strengths

Strengths are the attributes that are at the heart of our best self. They are the things that seem easy for us to do. For instance, some people are naturally empathetic, others inherently strategically minded. Some people are good at logical analysis, whereas others are great at developing artistic skills. 

It’s important to recognise our own strengths to boost our confidence and recover more quickly from setbacks. We are likely to solve a problem in a more efficient way if the solution is linked to at least one of our strengths. 

Our previous experiences

When we are  facing stress or anxiety while managing a problem, it can be really helpful to remember other times when went through a tricky situation or when we turned a situation around by applying strategically our knowledge, skills and experience. 

Once we have brought these experiences to mind, we can transform them into tactics, ideas or potential conversations, that will really make a difference. This process of building solutions on the understanding that resources from the past can help us in the present and in the future is called ‘Appreciative Inquiry’.

You might find interesting: How to lead when you do not have all the answers 

Our HERO abilities

Our HERO abilities consist on our states of hopefulness, optimism, resilience and confidence. This characteristics can help us when we are facing a changes or new challenges. Resilience by being part of the HERO abilities, can help us to boost our sense of hope, optimism and confidence when facing unexpected situations. 

Organisational resilience

We can also count on social skills to assist us to develop our resilience and adaptability. Our social networks extend our resourcefulness by being able to contact people that find easy the things that we find hard. They can be a source of inspiration, uplift, practical advice, useful contacts and many other resources that help us personally and professionally. It is important to exchange our strengths across our network. 

The social capital of an organisation reflects its connectedness. It’s about how easily information flows around the organisation and how much trust there is. Both of these, make it much easier for organisations to be resilient and to adapt quickly. 

A few quick tips for boosting your resilience and adaptability in the new normal

  • Follow safety instructions, but more importantly, understand the principles and apply them in different situations so you can be active in keeping yourself safe
  • Manage your energy and look after yourself. Having to suddenly adapt our behaviour means we cannot run on habitual lines, so it takes more energy even if you seem to be achieving less. Go easy on yourself, adjust your expectations and standards
  • Re-prioritise, and then do it again when things change again. It’s very easy to assume the priorities stay the same even as the situation changes. They don’t. So take the time to think about what the highest priorities are now, in this situation within these constraints, with these resources.
  • Redefine your goals so you can succeed in the new situation. This is very important.
  • Create and recreate structure for yourself. Structure really helps because it reduces decision-making, which is taxing. So keep evolving new structures to your day or your life as things change. 

As we tentatively ease lockdown, the enthusiasm of people to return to previous places of work will depend, to some extent, on the extent to which they trust the organisation to look after them. 

If you are interested in learning more about resilience and adaptability during this lockdown, we are running 4 two-hour live virtual development workshops or you can also access a video interview of two psychologists talking about resilience both generally and at work.


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