Kate Atkin logo
07779 646976

Building my Resilience - practical strategies for PCF reps

It has been a pleasure to create and run this workshop for you in your role as respresentatives on the parent carer forums. I truly hope that you find it useful. The key now is to remember to implement the ideas and actions that you have created.

If there are any issues or questions you would like to discuss please contact me. You can reach me at:  josie ‘at’ jacobs ‘dot’ me ‘dot’ uk

On this webpage you will find some extra information on the topics we discussed and some links to other resources.

Remember only you can guage how well you are coping, thriving or how resilient you are feeling or how close to burning out you may be. Reaching out for help and support is a sign of strength, so do so if you need to.

Building Resilience and Avoiding Burnout

Stress is “the nonspecific response of the body to any demand made upon it,” that is, the rate at which we live at any one moment. All living beings are constantly under stress and anything, pleasant or unpleasant, that speeds up the intensity of life, causes a temporary increase in stress, the wear and tear exerted upon the body. A painful blow and a passionate kiss can be equally stressful. (Selye 1976)

Stress has become synonymous with negative events, but that wasn’t always the case…

HSE definition of stress: ‘The adverse reaction people have to excessive pressures or other types of demand placed on them at work’. 

There are good types of stress and a certain amount keeps us motivated and ‘on the ball’. Each of us have different levels of negative stress that we can cope with. The key is recognising where you are before you get too close to not coping.

Talk on Practical Resilience in Difficult TimesYouTube link to presentation by Dr Chris Johnstone

Defining burnout

Burnout is not a sudden one-off event, but more like a “gradual emotional depletion and a loss of motivation and commitment” (Freudenberger 1974)

Three characteristics were identified by Maslach, Jackson & Leiter (1986):

Emotional exhaustion, depersonalisation, and reduced accomplishment.

How to recognise whether you are coping. (see Skills for Care questionnaire)

CIPD fact sheet:


VUCA short Harvard Business Review article: https://hbr.org/2014/01/what-vuca-really-means-for-you

Coping and Confidence

Have the confidence & courage to speak up for yourself. Ask for what you need. Putting yourself first isn’t selfish, it is self-care (remember the flying and oxygen mask analogy). While it may be a struggle as a parent carer, you know how important your own personla energy is to deal with the home challenges, let alone being able to support others through the forums. So do make some time for yourself, even micro-moments will make a difference.

Beliefs cycle: beliefs, feelings, behaviour, results…

Watch out for the tendency to need to be the rescuer – not helpful if you take away others’ abilities to look after themselves. Support by listening, but don’t take over.



Loving Kindness Meditations:

To others: May you be safe, may you be happy, may you be healthy, may you live with ease

And to yourself: May I be safe, may I be happy, may I be healthy, may I live with ease


Shad Helmstetter’s book “What to say when you talk to yourself”, and he has a Facebook page facebook.com/drshadhelmstetter/

Kristin Neff is a researcher in self-compassion, her website is https://self-compassion.org/

And here is a link to a YouTube video of a Loving Kindness Meditation youtube.com/watch?v=tY3NnodM3Ww

Five practical ways to increase wellbeing

Here is a short explanation of the New Economic Foundation’s 5 Ways to Wellbeing:


Connect – social distancing, should really be physical distancing. We still need social contact. How are you connecting? If managing others, do more now. Informal, phone, text, Zoom/Skype/Teams, quizzes, virtual cuppas.  Wobble Rooms – to download/offload/ just wobble & recover. Wellbeing Hubs.


Be Active – government advice was to exercise once a day right from the start of lockdown. Why? Because the importance of being active was recognised. Not just for physical health, but for mental well-being too. Small activities as well as longer runs/walks, games of tennis or golf, gardening.

Do whatever works for you, but don’t stay in front of the TV to relax!


Be Curious – this used to be called “take notice” but has been renamed. Curiosity encourages a state of wonder, of seeking to understand rather than of knowing. What are you curious about? Where could you ask more questions? What small things can you look at and wonder, rather than know? Flowers, sunsets & sunrises, birdsong, as well as work issues, your clinical skills and people.


Keep Learning – at the start of the lockdown, so many people were signing up to learn a new language, complete an online course, learn how to sew etc… While it is likely that working for the NHS you had enough on your plate already!

Not everyone has kept to those, a little like new year resolutions. Nor has everyone had the time to do this.

But what have you learnt? It migth not have been on a fromal course or workshop but we have all learnt new skills and new ways of working in the past few months. We don’t often stop and reflect on the skills we’ve learnt. Take time to acknowledge the new ways of working, the online processes, the methods of coping and many other things you will have learnt over the past few weeks.  And post-pandemic, we will continue to learn. New skills at work, new skills outside of work new recipes to cook, new routes to work, new ways of being rather than just doing.


Give – we can give gifts to each other, and research indicates that the giver benefits from this as well as the receiver. Many have also volunteered their time in the last few months. Time is a precious resource and giving it, even in the terms of listening to a colleague, is hugely important.


Other things that are important to give is praise, feedback and thank yous. Give these to others, to recognise them, not just for what they do, but also for who they are. Saying a heartfelt thank you, with reasons, is hugely important.


The presentation slides can be downloaded here.

Psychology Trauma’s Wellbeing Personal Action Plan

The Feelings Wheel

4-Box Action Plan



Strengths Questionnaires

Via Strengths Survey

Gallup’s StrengthsFinder

StrengthsProfile Assesssment

StrengthScope Assessment

General Interest

Amy Cuddy’s TED Talk on Body Language

Brene Browns’s TED Talk on The Power of Vulnerability and her follow-on TED Talk on Listening to Shame

Resilience & Wellbeing

You’ll find a diagram of some areas of resilience via this link: Emotionally Resilient Living

This link will take you to Liggy Webb’s “Little Book of Resilience” in pdf form.

TED talk by Jane McGonigal – at 12min 20 secs she covers 4 key ways to build resilience

TED Talk by Lucy Hone – three secrets of resilient people

TED Talk by Kelly McGonigal on how to make stress your friend

 YouTube link to talk by Dr Chris Johnstone on Practical Resilience in Difficult Times

Also see the Action for Happiness website, and the interview with Maria Sirois on this YouTube video where at 11 minutes in she asks us to consider the following three questions:

Q1 what can I do today that will nourish me?
Q2 what can I do today that will strengthen me?
Q3 what can I do today that will inspire me?

How to make stress your friend (Kelly McGonigal | TEDGlobal 2013)

Three secrets of resilient people (Lucy Hone | TEDxChristchurch)

Other Useful Links on Wellbeing and mental Health

Mental health Apps:

NHS ‘Supporting Our people’ website: people.nhs.uk

NHS Horizons: horizonsnhs.com/caring4nhspeople

MIND – advice on taking care of your staff: mind.org.uk/workplace/mental-health-at-work/taking-care-of-your-staff/useful-resources

Rethink mental health charity: www.rethink.org

BMA – Counselling and peer support for doctors and medical students: bma.org.uk/advice-and-support/your-wellbeing/wellbeing-support-services/counselling-and-peer-support-for-doctors-and-medical-students

Dr Rachel Morris podcast: youtube.com/watch?v=j2LQEpJPfcM&t=1973s

Dr Rachel Morris’ wellbeing toolkit shapes-toolkit.mykajabi.com/free-team-wellbeing-toolkit

What Works Wellbeing – Burnout and Wellbeing: whatworkswellbeing.org/blog/burnout-and-wellbeing

WHO evidence for burnout: who.int/mental_health/evidence/burn-out

Physical, psychological and occupational consequences of job burnout: A systematic review of prospective studies pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/28977041

Supporting the Health Care Workforce During the COVID-19 Global Epidemic: jamanetwork.com/journals/jama/fullarticle/2763136

The Compassionate Mind website  and an article on Huffington Post about practicing GRACE

Being Positive is not for the faint hearted! (Lea Waters) – about our negative bias & how we need to spread positive news. https://youtu.be/80U__KwX0iU

Beautiful Gratitude video by Louie Schwartzberg. https://youtu.be/4115qFsdWKQ

Free Gratitude wellbeing programme for nurses (medical staff) by Greater Good. https://ggsc.berkeley.edu/gratitudefornurses