My little guide about being resilient

Being resilient – what’s that all about then?  It’s a concept and behaviour that has been increasingly in my thoughts. A quick run around Google and it’s a hot topic based on its clear link to ones state of mental wellbeing and health, which of course as we all know is very much on the current agenda.

Firstly for clarity

The online thesaurus defines resilient as:

  • springing back; rebounding.
  • returning to the original form or position after being bent, compressed, or stretched.
  • recovering readily from illness, depression, adversity, or the like; buoyant.

Resilience is not just your ability to bounce back, but also your capacity to adapt in the face of challenging circumstances, whilst maintaining a stable mental wellbeing. Resilience isn’t just a personality trait – it’s something that we can all take steps to achieve.

Interesting to note the action type words being used  – “springing”, “buoyant” “rebounding” which all sounds like very hard work, given resilience is about recovering from adverse times in our lives – when we probably feel least like bouncing around!

Whats the importance of resilience?

There is much evidence to support that those people with greater resilience are likely to have better mental health and wellbeing?

Just one study here which is actually about corporate executives, where a study concluded that those execs with a lower resilience had a four-fold higher prevalence of depression and an almost three-fold higher prevalence of anxiety compared with the higher resilience cohort.

High resilience was positively associated with well-being and negatively associated with perceived stress.

Can resilience be learnt or does it just exist in us – nurture v nature?

Massively interested in this thought.  I believe that I was fortunate enough to be brought up by my parents to “be resilient”.  Learning to get up and get on with life after tough knocks……..but am also convinced that to a degree I was born “being resilient”.

The fact that there are different types of resilience bears out this thinking:

Emotional resilience – how we manage the emotional impact of stresses, trauma and difficulties in and on our lives

Inherent resilience – what we are born with “nature”

Adapted resilience – what we learn on the spot, in the moment – through coping with difficult experiences and events “in real time”

Learnt resilience – built up over time through coping with difficult times.  This gets “banked” and we learn how to recall and use it for future incidents

It would seem resilience is not a trait that people either have or do not have. It involves behaviours, thoughts and actions that can be learned and developed in anyone.

Am I resilient?

I don’t know are you?  I know I am lucky enough to be resilient – having been through a number of significant traumas and difficult life events.  Some how with the help and support of a network of friends, work colleagues, family and my own resilience, I am still getting up for breakfast and getting on with life!  Happy to chat this one through…

You can take a test here to test your propensity to resilience.  I scored 70%, I know that my resilience falters when tackling physical tasks such as attempting to run a marathon!  Read more on that here

Can I become more resilient?

In short yes, but not overnight.  However, by working on a number of areas in your life you can help to build up your resilience.  Areas to consider include:

Look after you physical health – here I go again banging on about getting out and the merits of being active.  Physical activity can be a distraction, provide a feel good factor, and just generally help us to grow stronger and more resilient.

Eat, drink and sleep well.  Easy to say I know, but can be harder to do.  Start with small changes – eat one more piece of fruit or veg a day, go to bed half an hour earlier, drink one more glass of water a day, that type of stuff.

Make some lifestyle changes – build in time to “just be” and not rushing around being busy and attempting to get 100 things done in one go.  You could even go one step forward and start practising mindfulness or relaxation….?

Introduce a new hobby or interest – “Stamp collecting, Yoga, Theatre trips” any one? (may be not all together!), but having other things to focus on in your life other than work, and the usual time sapping activities can prove to be a real energiser and distractor.

Build and invest in your support network – by catching up with friends, contacts or family that energise, inspire and listen to you or fundamentally just get you.

Be kind to yourself – try focusing on what you have achieved rather than what you haven’t.  What have the positives been in your day?  Could just be “three simple things”,  more on that in another blog. Don’t be too hard on yourself if you haven’t achieved something you have set out to do, or you feel you have made a mistake, ease up on punishing yourself and try to remember that no one is perfect.

Balance – strive to have a balance in all areas of your life.  Easy huh???   But, even just thinking about the art of balance and how you can apply it is a start, and a step closer to balancing your life than not doing at all.

Is resilience important in the workplace?

Yes, and increasingly so as lives get busier, work demands get greater, communication channels increase, new generations join the workforce (did you know that the millenial generation are allegedly “snowflakes” and not resilient?), and world events bring a general sense of despondency.

The report mentioned earlier in this post clearly links good resilience to positive mental health and we all know the figures and impact of poor mental health on our people and resulting impact for the workplace.

So why would we not make awareness of having strong resilience a priority in the business?

CIPD’s fact sheet on stress in the workplace is very clear on the causes and impact of stress for employers and goes onto talk about training and interventions that can be carried out to provide the right support for people.

Their suggest interventions to help build workforce resilience and promote well-being in the workplace, include

  • Training aimed at building personal resilience (such as coping techniques and cognitive behaviour therapy)
  • Stress management and relaxation technique training
  • Regular activities promoting healthy behaviour and exercise
    Flexible working options

There you have it!

Some thinking around resilience and the role it plays in our lives including the workplace.

Resilience awareness training anyone?

Workplace wellbeing review anyone?

Walking or running therapy anyone?