Today’s times of crisis have revealed our natural weakness for irrational and often pessimistic behaviors. We’ve also seen a global rise in depression, anxiety and other mental health issues. In such challenging times, what actions can we take to boost our wellbeing and build our resilience?
We brought together wellness experts Irene Forte and Bilal Hassan for a LinkedIn Live Masterclass: ‘Building resilience in challenging times’, to get to the heart of the wellness debate:
Renowned for her innovative approach to wellbeing and beauty, Irene Forte holds the position of Wellness Director for Rocco Forte Hotels. She is the founder and CEO of her eponymous skincare brand and a member of the Advisory Board of the Global Wellness Summit.
Based at the Les Roches Crans-Montana campus, Bilal is a Senior Lecturer and leads the Consultancy Project with MBA students. He also specializes in wellness and personal development as co-founder of SoHappy Institute Geneva.
1. Control your stress
Feeling stressed about an upcoming event or a situation you find yourself in is completely normal, and even healthy. But when this stress begins to consume you and make you think irrationally, it needs managing. Bilal explains how to catch and adapt yourself in this moment.
“The more we can control, the better chance we have of surviving, this is our monkey brain at work. We all have automatic decision making that is designed to help us in certain situations, it follows a routine. But if a situation is new, like covid, our brain doesn’t know what’s going to happen and it makes irrational, biased decisions.”
“In this situation when stress takes over, you have to draw on other previous stressful experiences to become self-aware: did being stressed change the event? No. What will help change the outcome is reflection on what you can do in that situation. During this pandemic, if there’s something that’s worrying you, understand what that is so you can begin to function normally and relax.”
2. Understand your emotions
“The key to making a bias-free decision is to be self-aware, and understand the emotions that are driving our actions”, Bilal says.
“During these kind of uncertain times and unpredictable times there’s a greater propensity for behavioural biases to cloud our judgement and impair our decision-making process”, adds Irene. “Self-awareness is really the ability to see yourself clearly and objectively, through reflection and introspection, helping you avoid certain behavioral biases and impulses”.
3. Nurture your pillars of self-care
True resilience isn’t the classic British ‘stiff upper lip’ or ‘keep calm and carry on’ mantra, it’s the elevation of each area of your life to its most-well. So that when a challenge comes, you have the support and energy, both internally and externally, to take it on.
“By self-care I mean taking an active role in protecting our own wellbeing and happiness”, Irene says. “It’s important to do this all the time, but particularly in periods of stress or difficult circumstances we should find time to eat well, go to the gym or meditate.
“For me, self-care covers social, physical, mental and spiritual:
Social – Social activities nurture and deepen the relationship you have with people in your life.
Physical – Physical is activities you do that improve your wellbeing physically and how much energy you have.
Mental – Mental is any activities that stimulate your mind or intellect, helping you be present and mindful.
Spiritual – Spiritual activities help you think bigger than yourself, improving your energy force and intrinsic motivation, bringing purpose.”
4. Get enough sleep
Diet and exercise are well-understood ways to improve your wellbeing, but in today’s always-on, time-poor world, sleep is just as crucial. As Irene explains.
“I think sleep is the most essential pillar for wellbeing to be honest. The World Health Organisation and the National Sleep Foundation say that you need 8 hours of sleep per night.
Irene’s top 5 tips for a good night’s sleep
- Go to bed and wake up at the same time of day, try and have a real routine.
- Try not to exercise right before bedtime and avoid stimulants like coffee or sugar 2 hours before bedtime.
- Avoid phones, tablets and laptops, really cut out that exposure to blue light before going to sleep.
- Avoid any non-essential medicines that delay or disrupt your sleep.
- Try and create a relaxing night-time ritual such as having a bath or doing a facial massage, writing a gratitude list or reading a book. Anything that supports your sleep.
5. Practice mindfulness
Once the domain of Buddhist Monks, mindfulness is now a multi-billion dollar industry, and its practice takes many forms, as Irene explains.
“Spiritual self-care covers meditation, mindfulness yoga, going to place of worship, being in nature and any situation that dedicates time for self-reflection”, she says. “You have to find what works for you.”
“In your day-to-day life, try and be present as much as possible. Think about where you are right now, what can you see, smell, hear and touch? Place your hand on your heart and feel it beating, take 5 deep breaths in through your nose and out though your mouth, all of these techniques will help ground you in the moment for effective mindfulness.”
“Remember, everything is interconnected, Bilal concludes. “Sleep, five minutes of meditation, having a walk, sharing a smile with a stranger, everything we do, think, say and how we act has a very powerful impact on our wellbeing and happiness.”
Irene’s recommended books and resources to support your resilience:
Why We Sleep, by Matthew Walker – Discusses the importance of sleep and shares stats to support it.
Gut, by Giulia Enders – All about the gut-brain axis effects, the balance of good and bad bacteria that’s vital mental health and wellbeing.
Terrence the teacher – A mindfulness coach with a number of apps that give you simple breathing exercises.