Hello PPMA friends

With the announcement of a second lockdown starting later this week, our Sparkle and Learn webinar last Friday was very timely. It was all about resilience and was delivered by the amazing Hazel Anderson Turner who is a Business Psychologist, Mindset Coach & Resilience Specialist.

Hazel has been leading a pool of coaches providing resilience coaching to an NHS Trust throughout 2020 and she has been reflecting on our understanding of resilience, particularly in times of crisis. In the webinar she shared these reflections about what she heard and learnt and how it relates to the approach she uses – Acceptance and Commitment Therapy. To support the webinar she has also written the blog post below – we hope that you find her advice very valuable, particularly right now. You can also see the webinar at the end of the post.


“2020 has tested our resilience in so many different ways. At times we have felt stronger than we thought we were and at others it has felt like all of our strategies weren’t working and it was all becoming too much.

It has been a privilege to spend this year providing resilience coaching within the NHS, enabling me to watch the year unfold from the perspective of so many different individuals. Every experience is different but in many ways the same. I feel as if my understanding of resilience has deepened and it feels important to share some of what I’ve learnt, hoping that it might help others.

1) Resilience is not about being strong, it’s about being flexible

If I could have gained a degree in ‘digging deep’ and ‘being strong’ I would have. It was my go-to way of facing challenges for most of my life. When I got to the point of having nothing left to dig into I discovered Acceptance and Commitment Therapy (ACT). Suddenly resilience wasn’t about being unbreakable, it was about being flexible. This is the approach that I bring to my coaching and it has been most transformational for many clients. In essence ACT combines mindfulness and values-based action, which has been fitting for a year that, for many of us, has made us pause and re-evaluate what is most important to us. The approach ACT takes says that we are not broken, just human, and that so much of what we experience is totally understandable given the evolution of our mind combined with our current context.

2) Trying to think clearly when we are in survival mode can feel like wading through treacle

For many of my clients it has felt like their threat detection system, their fight or flight mechanism, has been on overdrive. They have, at times, experienced emotional, cognitive and physical overwhelm and exhaustion, feeling like they are constantly in survival mode and unable to relax.

For the clients I worked with in this space the primary aim became signalling to the body a sense of safety, enabling the rest and recovery system to kick in. When I’m asked what type of activities help, I suggest things that we probably wouldn’t do when facing a threat, like focus on slowing our breathing, laughing, going for a walk, chatting to a friend or making a cup of tea.

When our system has broken free from the feeling of immediate danger we are able to see a little clearer and that’s when we can take a step back and focus on controlling what we can control.

3) Giving ourselves space to process and recover is fundamental for resilience

Many of my clients have experienced not just their own emotional weight but the weight of those around them. When so much of the focus is on listening to and supporting others it can be hard to find your own headspace and yet, recognising and prioritising your own need to process emotions and have time to do the activities that best support your recovery is vitally important.

Many of my clients found making and protecting this time incredibly hard, it just wasn’t what they did. But when they were able to find some space to take a breath, to notice how they were feeling, to do some yoga, meditate, take a bath or journal about their experiences, you could almost feel the shift in them. As they started to shift a little attention onto themselves and show themselves the love and care they showed others they were able to see how all the little choices they made during the day had a significant influence on their resilience.

There have been many more lessons but I hope this serves as a reminder that if you are experiencing anything that I described above, that you are not alone, you are not broken, you are just human.”

If you’d like to find out more about Resilience Coaching, here is the webinar with Hazel.

Hazel Anderson Turner, Business Psychologist, Mindset Coach & Resilience Specialist