Everyone’s talking about: Building resilience

Our level of resilience determines how well we respond to adversity, failure and stress. High levels of resilience mean we are more likely to ‘dust ourselves off’, ‘bounce back’ and look to the future. On the other hand, low levels can mean that the effects of a ‘knock back’ are far longer lasting, leading the person to doubt their ability and even dread the future.

The extra challenges that the last 12 months have thrown our way have highlighted the importance of being resilient.

The great news is that it is not fixed, we are all capable of increasing our resilience, here’s three ways in which we can build it…

1.    Change our mindset

When you hear the word stress what’s your first reaction? I’m going to take a guess and say it’s probably not a positive one? What If I told you there were, in fact, healthy forms of stress or as psychologists call it Eustress. Eustress produces feelings of excitement that actually help to improve performance.

Take a moment to think back to your first day at school or a new job, a first date, an interview for a promotion. All of these events fall under the Eustress umbrella. Although these events can be daunting, they also keep us energised and stop life from becoming boring. By leaving a piece of work until the deadline starts to loom, we are creating our own stress, a catalyst, that provides us with energy and motivation. It is only when we have too much stress that it starts to become unhealthy and hinder us.

By simply recognising that stress is not always a bad thing, and embracing it rather than fearing it, we will become more resilient.

2.    Increase social support

Talk things through with people who care about you. Often, just verbalising your worries can make them seem a lot more manageable. However, try and avoid spending hours mulling over the problem and instead try and focus your time and energy on finding solutions. This will be a much more productive conversation. Kelly McGonigal refers to this in her TED talk ‘How to make stress your friend’.

Increasing social support isn’t only a good idea when we have things on our mind.  Being around people who believe in us, forming strong connections and simply laughing will help you to build your resilience. Think back to the last time you had a Zoom call with family or friends. It’s likely that you came off that call feeling more energised and positive than you did before. These are key ingredients to building resilience.

3.    Focus on self-care

Doing things we enjoy gives us the energy that we need to cope with the stress that life throws at us. There are lots of activities we can do to relieve stress, such as exercising, practising mindfulness, listening to music, getting enough sleep, avoiding bad food and not drinking excessively. Self-awareness is important here because there isn’t a one size fits all self-care package. We need to ask ourselves, what coping mechanisms work for me? What are my limits? What do I enjoy? While going for a run at 6 am might work for your colleague, it’s important to experiment and find what works for you.

The events of the last year have brought us all many and varied challenges at home and work. As a result, many of us are working hard to better understand and maintain our resilience. By carrying out these three tips, we can build our resilience; the key to continuing to thrive.

This blog was produced by Lauren O’Brien, Behavioural Consultant at Adaptis. Lauren holds a master’s degree in Organisational Psychology and is educated to degree level in Psychology (BSc). She uses her knowledge of behavioural change, employee relations and motivation to inform the design and delivery of development workshops.