Who won’t have at least a small blow out over Christmas? Too much food, not enough sleep, not enough exercise and not looking after ourselves well enough…Let’s see if we can get back on track…

This is the first in a series of posts on Resilience based around the 6 elements of Resilience as defined by Dr. Matthew Critchlow in his new psychometric RQi – Resilience Quotient Inventory, which I use in my Resilience Coaching work.

The model is shown below.

What is Resilience?

“Resilience is the process of negotiating, managing and adapting to significant sources of stress or trauma. Assets and resources within the individual and environment facilitate this capacity for adaption and ‘bouncing back’ in the face of adversity”

Windle at al (2011)

Managing physiology has 2 main elements; 1) Environmental factors and 2) Physical practices

Environmental factors that affect Resilience

Environmental factors that impact wellbeing include access to green space and the natural environment, along with exposure to daylight. Both of these are proven to reduce the risk of psychological stress.

Green space and the natural environment – the Japanese have a version of this called ‘forest bathing’ (taking time out to walk through the forest, breathe the air, and enjoy the beautiful scenery) and some employers have mandated that their workers take time to be in nature as they know that it enhances performance and lowers stress and subsequent sickness absence levels.  People with access to green space in urban areas report lower stress, better mental health, healthier cortisol levels and a reduced risk of cardo-vascular disease (Roe et al 2013)

Exposure to Daylight – natural light when we’re working significantly increases wellbeing. I once went on a training course (for which I had paid a significant amount of money!) and found it to be running in a London hotel basement with no natural light. It was a 7 day straight intensive and it started on a Saturday. By Wednesday I was going stir crazy and took the afternoon off, I simply couldn’t be in there a moment longer. Since then Cheung (2013) has shown that offices with at least one window to natural light means that people sleep better, have better sleep quality, show greater vitality and do more physical activity than those in a windowless office.

Physical practices that affect Resilience

Managing our own physiology is a critical part of resilience. Yoga, maintaining good posture and sleeping well are all known to be protective factors against stress. For those that are able to do it, cardio vascular workouts are also helpful.

Yoga and Resilience – the benefits of yoga have been anecdotally ‘known’ for centuries, and now there’s evidence based research to prove it. Decreased symptoms of depression were found by Pilkington et al (2005) Whilst Michalsen at al (2005) found rapid stress reduction following a 3-month yoga programme. Start gently with some Hatha or Neurogenic Yoga, build up to Iyengar Yoga and even Bikram if you can stand the heat. Your body will thank you for it.

Good posture and Resilience – Shapiro’s research in 2005 showed that good posture, mindfulness and non-sedentary working can all help to lower stress and enhance wellbeing. Getting up from your desk every 25 minutes can be really helpful, unsurprisingly there’s an app for it, so no excuses.

Cardiovascular workouts and Resilience – not everyone can manage cardio but people with good Cardio-Vascular (CV) fitness tend to cope much better with psychological stressors and are less prone to low mood, anxiety, depression and burnout. Warburton et al (2006) carried out a study that suggested that people with good CV fitness may experience less CV arousal in response to ‘stressful’ events.

Sleep and Resilience – sleep is vital to our wellbeing, not least our day to day functioning. According to Professor Vicki Culpin at Ashridge Business School (TedX Exeter) Lack of sleep has the following effects;

·      Reduction in learning ability

·      Poor memory

·      Poor decision making

·      Poor communication skills

·      Reduced physical health

·      Reduced mental health

Lack of sleep has the same effect as being ‘over the alcohol limit’ in 98 countries – I have lost count of the number of times I’ve driven whilst being tired. I remember once being stopped by the police whilst driving home late with my Mom fast asleep in the passenger seat. The Police Officer thought I was drunk because I had drifted over the white line a number of times. Thankfully he was understanding, and there’s nothing like a blue light and a siren to wake you up! That evening could have ended up very differently.

If that list isn’t enough to deter you it’s worth noting that a lack of sleep costs the UK economy £36bn per annum. One to mull over if you’re in HR or a wellbeing team.


If you want to look more closely at your own resilience or the resilience of your teams the RQi psychometric shows scores for stress and wellbeing and measures 4 specific elements

1.     Perceived levels of stress

2.     Subjective wellbeing

3.     Sickness absence levels

4.     Job performance


If you would like to explore your resilience with an evidence based Psychometric tool contact me at positivelyflourishing.co or through linked in. It could well enhance your quality of life.


About the author: Janette Kirk-Willis

‘We Are The Positive Psychology People’

The Positive Psychology People is co-founded and sponsored
by Lesley Lyle and Dan Collinson,
Directors of Positive Psychology Learning and authors of the
8-week online Happiness Course


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