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Personal resilience, Day 18 – 25th of March 2020


In September 2019, Sarah Thomas set off to swim the English Channel.  After fifty-four hours and a swim of 130 miles she became this first person to swim the channel 4 times.  This is a phenomenal achievement.  The even greater achievement is that she did this having completed her treatment for breast cancer in 2018.

In almost every feat of endurance our mind-set is our greatest asset or our worst enemy.  In responding to any situation, some see challenges and problems whilst others view the same situation as an opportunity.  A skew to a deficit mind-set can skew our thinking from “I can” to “I can’t”.  A deficit mind set can cause worry; What will happen if…? What will happen in the future…?

The goal isn’t a blind optimism.  You don’t want to ignore problems and hope they will simply go away.  The goal, instead, is a developmental mind set, where you can approach situations as opportunities to affirm what’s right, solve potential problems, and ultimately see things as opportunities to do something creative.

Learned optimism involves developing the ability to view the world from a positive point of view.  It encourages us to challenge our negative self-talk and replace pessimistic thoughts with more positive ones.  Doing this on a regular basis encourages us to be more optimistic.

There are a number of benefits to becoming a more optimistic person.  These include:

  • Better health outcomes: One study found that people who were more optimistic at age 25 were much healthier later between the ages of 45 and 60 than were their more pessimistic counterparts.
  • Longer lifespan: Studies have shown that optimistic people tend to live longer than pessimists.
  • Lower stress levels: Optimists not only experience less stress, but they also cope with it better.  They tend to be more resilient and recover from setbacks more quickly.  Rather than becoming overwhelmed and discouraged by negative events, they focus on making positive changes that will improve their lives.
  • Higher motivation: Becoming more optimistic can also help you maintain motivation when pursuing goals.  When trying to lose weight, for example, pessimists might give up because they believe diets never work.  Optimists, on the other hand, are more likely to focus on positive changes they can make that will help them reach their goals.
  • Better mental health: Optimists report higher levels of well-being than pessimists.  Research also suggests that teaching learned optimism techniques can significantly reduce depression.


If any of these emails or exercises have affected you and you feel you would like to speak to someone, support is available through RSABI.  You can call them on 0300 111 4166.  Their helpline is open from 7am to 11pm all year.

These resources have been developed by Kim Walker of Advance Consultancy for the Farm Advisory Service.

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