Bouncing back – how to build resilience in sports & life

Bouncing back – how to build resilience in sports & life

Resilience is the ability to adapt well to any challenges and stressors you may face in life. The more resilient you are, the more you will feel able to “bounce back” from difficult experiences. 

Endurance athletes can be impacted by setbacks in several ways. Injury, cancelled events underperforming to name just a few. Being able to deal with the challenges that get thrown up play a significant role in achieving your goals whether you’re an elite Ironman athlete, a first time Kathmandu Coast to Coast competitor, an avid gym-goer or a some-time weekend warrior.   

Vince Lombardi, the iconic American football coach and recognised as one of the greatest coaches of all time, once described resilience as “Not whether you get knocked down, it’s whether you get up.” 

Here are my top tips to help build your resilience: 


1. Know what you can control

Don’t confuse what you can control with what you can’t control. Some things are out of your hands – and it’s usually obvious what they are. By focusing on what you can control, you will naturally be able to navigate your way through a challenging situation with less stress and more resolve.  


2. Make connections

Supportive friends or family in your corner is huge when the going gets tough. Cultivate your network so you have help on hand through the hard times. The emotional and practical support they offer can make all the difference to your mental focus. Plus, having someone you trust to talk to can really help with keeping your ‘game face’ on.  


3. Live in the moment

Being mindful or in the present moment helps keep your mind focused with your head in the game. Ruminating over the past or worrying about the future is not only exhausting and unhelpful, it’s also the easiest way to sabotage your routine and compromise your performance.  


4. Embrace failure

Often the greatest lessons in life are learned through failure or things not going your way. If you make a mistake, turn it into a positive and learn something from it. And don’t be too hard on yourself – everybody makes mistakes. 


5. Accept change

Life is fluid and changing all the time. Some changes are bigger than others or completely unexpected. Accepting change is inevitable and being adaptable is one of the most important factors in developing and being resilient. 


6. Be grateful

Sometimes it’s easy to lose sight of the big picture. But instead of focusing on what you don’t have, think about all the things you do have and maybe take for granted. Writing down the things you’re grateful for can help you see the big picture. It’s also the surest way to change your mindset from negative to positive which is critical for performing at your best.  


7. Look after yourself

When you’re under pressure or stressed out it’s critical that you don’t forget about your own needs. Remember to eat healthy food, exercise and get enough rest. If you look after yourself, you will feel more prepared and better equipped to face adversity. 


8. Be optimistic

It’s important to keep a positive outlook during challenging times. Having hope and a belief that things will be OK can help you get through setbacks and challenges. This doesn’t necessarily mean you need to look at life through rose-coloured glasses. It’s more a mindset to expect good things, but knowing that when challenges arise (as they will!) you are equipped with all you need to face them with confidence and success.  


Put it into practice  

Nothing in life is achieved or perfected without practice. What’s more, resilience is not a finite destination, but like a ‘mental muscle’ that needs to be worked on continually to build its potential. So, make a point of employing these simple tips as part of your everyday life. They will help you build resilience and adapt to any challenges and stressors you may face. The more resilient you are, the more you will feel able to “bounce back” and thrive. 

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