Resilience is a buzzword in psychology. Put simply, it is the rubber-ball factor that allows you to bounce back from tough times and continue, stronger than ever. Some people are born with qualities such as optimism and a positive mindset that make them more innately resilient. But resilience can also be cultivated.
The long-term basics to maintain resilience are well recognised: sleep well, eat well and exercise enough. Mental musts include nurturing relationships, planning for challenges (rather than predicting disasters) and recognising that nothing is 100 per cent certain, so you need to be flexible.
Sometimes, however, we need quick, simple shifts and that’s where a new book called Micro-Resilience: Minor Shifts for Major Boosts in Focus, Drive and Energy (Piatkus Books, £12.99*) comes in. Husband-and-wife co-authors Bonnie St. John and Allen Haines have both needed resilience in their lives. Aged five, Bonnie had one leg amputated and then fought her way to become a US Paralympic skier. Allen was a top film-marketing executive who, after going through a divorce, decided to change his life.
Today, they work together as leadership consultants and executive trainers. Their clients had voiced the same problems for years: periodic burnout, lack of focus and low energy. Bonnie and Allen scoured research in neuroscience, psychology and physiology looking for answers. Instead, they found that small changes could make a big difference. That revelation informed their Micro-Resilience programme, which is explained in the book.
Micro-resilience is an easy and worthwhile read, with personal stories, research on how your brain works and lots of ‘bite-size but extremely powerful tweaks that work with you to restore your energy’. But I would not recommend it as a wind-down read at bedtime; my current pre-sleep favourite is Nigel: My Family And Other Dogs by Monty Don (Two Roads, £7.99*), a heart-warming and soothing memoir of living and gardening with Monty’s beloved golden retriever Nigel.
HOW TO BOOST MICRO-RESILIENCE
• Block out times when you are not to be disturbed, so you can complete jobs that require focus.
• Keep handy things that inspire joy (eg, photos, letters, objects) for when you need a lift.
• Simplify your wardrobe, house, workplace and general routine so that tasks need fewer decisions.
• Exercise on the days when you need your brain to be at its best. Research shows that exercise generates significant same-day improvement in thinking.
• Make important decisions when you feel clear-headed, eg, after a nutritious meal, exercise or a rest.
A friend who suffered from episodes of cold, numb or tingling hands and feet due to Raynaud’s syndrome says a Tibetan herbal medicine, Padma Circosan, has given significant relief. Raynaud’s is triggered by cold temperatures (sufferers should wear warm gloves and socks, especially during cold weather) and also by stress and anxiety. The condition occurs because blood vessels go into temporary spasm, which blocks blood flow. Padma Circosan has a UK Traditional Herbal Registration Certificate/£16.95 at victoriahealth.com.
Q. My friend’s 11-year-old daughter has coeliac disease. She is a keen cook and I would like to find a cookery book for her.
A. One per cent of people in the UK have this lifelong autoimmune disease caused by a reaction to gluten, a protein found in wheat, rye and barley. Symptoms include bloating, diarrhoea, nausea, wind, constipation, tiredness, sudden weight loss (in some cases), hair loss and anaemia.
Treatment is lifelong avoidance of gluten. Coeliac UK (coeliac.org.uk) has a useful gluten-free diet and lifestyle section on its website, with more than 800 recipes, including ones for children.
Michelle Berriedale-Johnson, editor of specialist website foodsmatter.com, recommends The Gluten-Free Cookbook for Kids by Adriana Rabinovich (Vermilion, £14.99*) and Wheat-Free, Gluten-Free Cookbook for Kids and Busy Adults by Connie Sarros (McGraw-Hill Contemporary, £13.99). Both offer simple recipes.