Resilience – What is it really?

Resilience is determined by a person’s capacity to deal with stressful times and grow as a result.

With leaner teams, increased work demands, working from home, social isolation, financial stressors, growing technology dependence, family responsibilities and the work-life balance struggle there is no surprise tactics to effectively manage stress, and improve mental health, are a focus for many employers.

But how do you build resilience?

There is definitely no magic pill or secret formula we can provide to make you instantly resilient but there are many useful strategies you can implement to assist in building your resilience.

The main idea you must remember is…

What I take out I must put back.

This overarching principle can be applied to all elements of your life with your emotions, physical being and connections.

Strategies that can contribute to your level of resilience

  • Sleep: I know you have heard it time and time again, but a good night’s sleep really is crucial to your brain function, how you feel, and your energy levels throughout the day.  Getting quality sleep is the easiest way to reset your brain.
  • Mindfulness: a simple deep breathing exercise actually changes the chemistry within the brain.
  • Be Grateful: thinking about what you are grateful for reduces cortisol levels by 23% (Stress Management Institute).
  • Social connections and your support network: build and maintain connections, reach out to your support network and have a real conversation with a close friend of family member.
  • Exercise and your physical wellbeing: Let’s get physical… physical.  Yes, I know every article on mental health, stress reduction and wellbeing always talk about exercise.  Even if it is a 15 minute walk every morning or yoga a few times a week, you will be surprised what a difference it can make.
  • Positive Emotions: positive emotions like gratitude, love, joy, pride, kindness and amusement all assist with changing your mindset.  Research shows you need a 5:1 ratio of positive thoughts to negative thoughts (Dr Mark Waldman, Neuroscience Specialist).
  • Building Purpose: think about what is truly important to you.  Do your values align with what you do?  We can assist with tailored career coaching sessions and assessments to help you discover your strengths, values and a career direction that will provide you with a greater purpose.

Why all the hype about resilience programs? 

Simply put.  It is just good business.

Companies that implemented resilience programs for employees have witnessed drastic increases in employee job satisfaction (some higher than 80%), which then translates to improved performance (a happy worker is a more productive worker), greater retention, and significantly fewer sick days.  Not only do employees have stronger relationships (both with colleagues and outside of work), but they have also seen significant improvements in mental health and wellbeing, a reduction in depression and anxiety, and overall enhancements in work and life satisfaction.

Resilience workshops do not have to be lengthy.  It is possible to achieve the same benefits of an extended workshop through simply implementing a 5–10-minute resilience building activity into your day.

This could be as simple as a mindfulness or breathing exercise.  One I like to do to clear the mind before sleep is the 100 breaths meditation.  It is straightforward and involves counting down from 100 to 0, with one breath for each count = 100 breaths in total.  Your mind will likely drift to different thoughts throughout the exercise, which is normal if you have not actively practiced mindfulness before.  When this occurs, it is important to not lose focus, as the mindfulness gurus say ‘just accept the thought without judgement and move on’, continue focusing on your breathing and counting until you reach 0.

Why not try something different?

Improving resilience…. It can be a laughing matter.

Put simply, the art of Laughter Yoga involves prolonged voluntary laughter.  It is based on the belief that voluntary laughter provides similar psychological benefits as spontaneous laughter.  It might sound very strange, but laughter yoga is an emerging trend and it actually works.  If you have never done the exercise before, you will probably feel a little uncomfortable for the first minute but then something changes and your fake laughter, turns to real laughter and the ‘bad day’ you were having earlier is magically forgotten about.  It’s fun, easy to learn and the positive effects are felt instantly.

Making a small change today could significantly improve your level of resilience and overall quality of life.  What have you got to lose?

Rebecca Milne
Learning & Development Consultant

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