From 'fine' to flourishing

Ella Rhodes reports from a BPS webinar on resilience.

Is being just 'fine' enough? In a British Psychological Society webinar on resilience Dr Audrey Tang shared exercises and techniques that aim to help people move beyond 'fine' and into flourishing.

While much of psychology has tended to focus on helping people move from being in crisis to being fine, Tang said this was a problem. She suggested being simply fine stops us from admitting we need help, stops us making changes, and can even prevent us from admitting when we’re truly happy. 

The first exercise Tang shared was a method of tackling a sense of being overwhelmed. She asked attendees to draw a circle and divide it into slices, and in each section to write down something that would help you to live your ideal life, and rate each on a scale of zero to 10 to indicate how well you are doing in each area to help you to organise your time in the areas you may have been neglecting. 

To help free up some extra time, Tang shared another exercise that involved drawing a cross and using titles in each quadrant – urgent and important, urgent and not important, not urgent but important and not urgent or important. The important in this case refers to how important it is that you do something yourself. She suggested that people should do those things which are urgent and important, delegate the things which are urgent but not important, delay the things which are not urgent but are important, and delete the things which are neither. 

Although these tips may help with time management and feeling overwhelmed, Tang said having a drive and motivation to work towards goals can be difficult. She said one way to feel motivated is through spending time with friends; however, as we all know, some friends and acquaintances have a tendency to exhaust us. Tang suggested drawing several shapes – she used cups – and write in each one the values of a certain person who you enjoy spending time with. What is it you love about that person? Tang suggested looking at those values and behaving that way yourself, telling that person what you admire about them, and spending time with that person.  

Following a self-affirmation meditation, Tang shared some ideas of activities to help lift energy levels. She said that people have a comfort zone, a stretch zone and a panic zone, and when we begin to stretch ourselves we might start to panic. To tackle this Tang suggested doing one thing every day that pushes you a little into your stretch zone. Lifting energy can help, because when we feel good, we are more likely to do things. Recognise any time you feel energised, but also notice those things that relax you. Then whether you need calming or extra energy you will have an activity to choose from.

Another way to explore the ways we can feel better is something Tang calls the SPICES challenge – this involves listing things which are spiritual, such as meditation, physical, intellectual, creative, emotional and social – to explore things outside of our usual habits and routines which can help us to feel better. 

- Search and access conferences and webinars, talks and workshops organised by the British Psychological Society.

Also see Dr Tang talking about coming out of lockdown.

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