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I love watching football in my free time. I am always amazed at the players' discipline, determination and perseverance whenever they play. As well as the physical skills that footballers need to have, there is a lot of mental and emotional strength that they draw on over the course of a match and a season.

Coaches often talk about learning to be a good loser. Handling the disappointment of a loss (especially when you feel you should have won) is an important skill both on and off the field. You can use losses to help drive you to train and push harder. However, it is equally important to win well. Respecting and appreciating your opponent, by looking out for them if they are injured, helping them up after a tackle, shaking hands at the end all helps develop a sense of character and moral compass.

Footballers are very aware their job depends on them performing to the best of their ability and they learn that they are accountable to those people around them. An individual can lift a team, but a team will also lift an individual - so learning how to benefit (or even rely) on these symbiotic relationships is so important.

On top of all of that, there is one thing that footballers do well (most of the time). They adapt well in the face of adversity, trauma, tragedy, threats, or significant sources of stress. This is what we call Resilience.

What is resilience and how do we build it?

Life does not come with a manual or map to inform us of what is to come. Everyone will experience the ups and downs and the twist and turns of life. Some are smaller challenges; others can leave a lasting impact on us and can affect us all differently. Adapting to these changes over time is due, in part, to resilience.

Becoming more resilient can help us get through stressful and overwhelming circumstances but it also empowers us to improve and grow our lives along the way. I like to think that resilience is like a muscle, it takes time and practice for it to grow stronger and develop.

How do we build resilience?

Learn from your past

By looking back at situations, you have faced in the past, it can help you identify and reconnect with strategies you have used previously to help you. It can also be beneficial to see how you responded and what you have learnt from those experiences. We all make mistakes, but learning from them is important for growth.

Develop a strong network of people

It is important to have people you can talk to and share things with. By sharing your thoughts and feelings with someone you trust, it is a great opportunity to receive helpful feedback, find a solution to the problem and help you feel supported and less alone.

Look after yourself

We can all be guilty of not looking after ourselves, particularly during stressful situations. Trouble sleeping, a loss or increase in appetite or losing interest in the things you enjoy are all very common reactions to stressful and traumatic times in our lives.

It is important to find time to eat well, get enough sleep and engage in an activity that helps you relax such as a walk, playing with a pet, having a bath, going out for coffee or watching football!

By taking care of your own needs, you are in a healthier position to be able to cope with life’s challenges.

For some, these points above will be enough for them to practise building their resilience but there are times where you may feel stuck or have difficulty training that resilience muscle. That is where seeking professional, supportive counselling can be really beneficial to help you find strategies to move forward.


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