7 Expert tips on resilience and how star athlete Ella Williams got through 2020

As the clock switched from 2019 into 2020 none of us could have predicted the challenges that lay ahead – we were joyously oblivious. Roll on a few months and a tiny virus forced the world to change pretty much everything in our lives.

While we faced enormous challenges we also saw powerful glimmers of hope in the way communities, families and friends came together. At Almond Breeze NZ we enjoyed our Zoom catch ups with our epic Aussie team, wearing questionable activewear, donning even more questionable hair, and watching everyone bake up a storm on Instagram.


We were super inspired by Anya’s Lockdown Baking Challenge among many others!

And we loved hearing your feedback and suggestions when we shared this post about 8 hilarious Kiwis bringing the LOLs in social media.

But for athletes, especially those who had been training to compete in Japan, we know that 2020 was a tough year. So we thought our talented Almond Breeze NZ ambassador Ella Williams might have some gems to share about how she got through, hoping her path to resilience helps us. Basically, how she made 2020 better!



7 Tips from an expert on finding your resilience

But before we hear from Ella, we found this informative article written by Assistant Professor Katherine King, a doctor of psychology, who shares 7 expert principles on how to build resilience, which we capture here:

  1. Cultivate a Belief in Your Ability to Cope – Acknowledge and validate your feelings, then move forward and begin to cultivate an awareness of your personal strengths and resources.
  2. Stay Connected With Sources of Support – Humans are social animals, and we need a tribe to feel safe and supported. Rise above disagreements and focus on working towards a common goal that can unite rather than divide.
  3. Talk About What You’re Going Through – Process what you’re going through now rather than bottle it up. If it’s hard to find someone to talk to, try journaling or sending letters or messages to loved ones who are far away.
  4. Be Helpful to Others – Be empowered by helping others in need, which can reduce feelings of helplessness and may enhance a sense of control and effectiveness in the world.
  5. Activate Positive Emotion – Actively cultivate positive emotions as an antidote to global woes. Take time to enjoy things that make you laugh, like favourite sitcoms, comedians, and heartwarming rom-coms you know can boost your spirits.
  6. Cultivate an Attitude of Survivorship – Focus on being a survivor rather than being a victim. This will activate inner strength and create a narrative that we can proudly carry into life after the pandemic.
  7. Seek Meaning – Fall back on your spiritual or emotional sense of meaning. For example, if you believe that there’s a lesson in everything, brainstorm how you are currently learning, such as patience, spending less, and the value of family, friends, pets and nature.



1. 2020 was a year of challenges, particularly for athletes. What sort of rituals helped you stay emotionally resilient?

2020 was definitely a different year for all athletes and all people. I think it was definitely a time to reset and re-focus and realign yourself with what your true passions are and what you really want in life.

For me it was really great as I didn’t look at it as a disappointment, I looked at it as it was a great opportunity to have more time to work on myself and to work on my surfing. It also meant I could spend time with my family, which I haven’t had a lot of time to do because I’m always travelling so, I’m really grateful for it.

I got into a lot of things like yoga meditation and a lot of breathing work, so in that time frame I’ve really built-up a good foundation that is setting me up well for the rest of my life and also for Tokyo 2020.


2. During lockdown when the ocean was off limits, how did you stay focussed on achieving your surfing goals?

It was definitely very interesting not being able to get in the water! And it was very different for us being surfers. You know that’s the thing that makes us feel good, it’s a thing that makes us feel happy – hopping into the salt water in the ocean – so it was definitely a different time.

But it was great because I was able to watch a lot of surf videos and amp myself up. And when I was able to get in the water, it just felt amazing! The great thing was I still could train so I could physically still go for a run, do some rowing, yoga and meditation. All those little things really help me for getting ready for when I could hop back in the water again.


3.You had to mentally prepare for event cancellations in 2020 and possibly the same again in 2021. What did you learn that could be helpful for others?

Just to take every day as it comes not to plan too far ahead and stay in the moment enjoy the moment. Because that’s what life‘s about! You never know what’s around the corner, so just enjoy what’s in front of you. Enjoy the people that you’re with. At the end of the day, if it was all taken away tomorrow, you wish you’d really enjoyed it yesterday ♥️!


4. What’s something special you could share about family and friends that helped you all through 2020?

It was great being able to Zoom my friends and family. For me that’s so, so important and a huge part of my life. So definitely being able to stay in touch through social media and Zoom was a game changer, and we are so lucky in today’s world that we are able to do that. So yeah that was amazing for us and it was a great way to stay connected. It felt like we were still together and not worlds apart.


Macaroni and Broccoli Cheese Bake
5. What’s one of your favourite winter comfort food recipes?

I would have to say my favourite one for winter time is the vegan macaroni and broccoli cheese bake! I just use alternatives to make it vegan so I put in vegan butter, cheese and mix it up with obviously using Almond Breeze almond milk.

You can use different flavours to make it taste a little bit different each time so I really like playing around. But I love that it’s nice and warm, especially coming into these colder months, it’s so comforting  after a long day of training. It’s exactly what I look forward to coming home to 😍!!


Grab the recipe here!


From our love of Almond Breeze almond milk to yours…



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