Resilience is the ability to remain productive, engaged and calm while experiencing pressure or adversity. Life is full of lessons and helps us to learn something about ourselves, particularly in difficult times. For some, the lesson is reassuring and they are able to maintain their emotional balance.
Resilience is also a process that can be honed and strengthened over time. We can get better at being resilient and responding to adversity. Resilience is not only a critical factor in our success in the workplace and in relationships, but is fundamental to our well-being in the long-term.
The more resilient a person is, the more quickly they’re able to recover from a setback, make the best of the new situation, and become a ‘new and improved’ version of themselves because of it. In the workplace, resilient individuals don’t dwell on failures, requests denied, or dark chapters in their employer’s past. They move on.
Resilience seems to come naturally to some people, but others have to cultivate it, especially when disaster strikes. You may not be able to flip on an ‘optimism’ switch, but you can take steps to help speed your return to normal. Here are four things you can do:
1. Improve your physical and mental health – get enough sleep and exercise, and learn to manage stress. When you take care of your mind and body, you’re better able to cope effectively with challenges in your life. Get up and move every 90 to 120 minutes. Suggest a walking meeting with a co-worker. Climb the stairs instead of taking the elevator. Each week, do some sort of physical activity – get your sweat on. What can you do to overcome mental fatigue and exhaustion? Take a break from the task at hand. Impose a change of scenery with a short mental vacation by daydreaming, solving a challenging puzzle, or practicing a simple meditation technique like taking a couple of deep breaths.
2. Learn how to regulate your emotions – the ability to manage and respond appropriately to emotions, both positive and negative, and the ability to stay calm under pressure. Identify your own emotion regulation strategies and add new skills to your emotion regulation toolkit. Regulating emotion is essential for success at work, maintaining intimate relationships and physical well-being. What can you do to become more conscious of your emotional triggers? Figure out who and what pushes your buttons. Slow down so you can manage your reactions and choose your response. Try the ‘third-party observation’ technique: objectively see the various angles of this situation from different viewpoints, as if you were watching it unfold on film. Playing ‘witness’ to your life allows you to regain a sense of perspective.
3. Have a good support network – develop strong relationships with your colleagues. People who have strong connections at work are more resistant to stress, and they’re happier in their role. This also goes for your personal life: the more real friendships you develop, the more resilient you’re going to be, because you have a strong support network to fall back on. Remember that treating people with compassion and empathy is very important.
4. Practice thought awareness – resilient people don’t let negative thoughts derail their efforts. Instead, they consistently practice positive thinking. Also, ‘listen’ to how you talk to yourself when something goes wrong – if you find yourself making statements that are permanent, pervasive or personalized, correct these thoughts in your mind
Every time you find a way to learn from your tough experience, you build inner strength. When you look carefully for meaningful lessons, you deepen your resiliency reservoir.
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