When faced with adversity, how do you cope? Do you adapt, spring back to action or feel stuck? Resilience means ‘bouncing back’ from a difficult experience, as defined by the American Psychological Society.
In this article, I have selected for you seven resilience boosting tips. These have been tried and tested by countless colleagues and clients and proved to create positive results. Walking into a bookstore or searching online, you would discover the magnitude of books on the subject. They can provide us with insights and inspiration. However, genuine resilience comes from daily practice and perspective.
Look back – Most of us tend to forget about the insurmountable challenges we have successfully overcome in the past. The more difficult these situations have been, the more we need to keep in mind how well we have handled them. Take a few minutes to jot down some of the big challenges you have tackled. There is no need to share them with anybody. Your list will be a useful ally especially if you often underestimate your abilities (as most of us do). It will help you to develop confidence in your abilities and stop doubting yourself.
Look forward– People with a clear direction come across emotionally stronger. Having a sizeable aspiration boosts their inner strength. Think of the immune system. When you have an appealing vision of what you aspire to, your ‘emotional immune system’ becomes stronger. As a result, you will bounce back quicker from setbacks.
Handle offence – I have recently read some intriguing insights about how often people hurt others without even being aware of it. It could be the wrong word they have used in a conversation, unintended criticism, a misinterpreted facial expression or misjudging the time for an important discussion. From time to time, we are completely blind to the small offences we cause to others. Next time your colleague says something seemingly judgmental about your work, try not to take it personally. Dust yourself off. It was probably not meant to offend you.
Simplify – When you feel overwhelmed with the burden of chores, you might feel that your life has turned into a never-ending ‘to-do’ list. You want to complete tasks quickly so that you can cram in even more into an already overflowing schedule. When you rush, you create additional stress. Haste creates waste. You miss opportunities to connect with people. You feel scattered and drained and exhausted. As you keep on accelerating, it becomes harder and harder to handle challenges. Simplifying means slowing down the dizzying pace of your life. Think about what you can take out of your schedule or simply postpone.
Detach from technology – The online world is both a friend and a foe. It has created opportunities we never imaged a decade ago. Yet, it can interfere with our ability to switch off. Social media never stops. We are curious to check, and comment, and be involved, fearing that we might miss out on something important. A colleague of mine has recently returned from a technology-free holiday, which meant no e-mails, texts, social media or online videos to watch. She realised how little she has genuinely missed in a week. She returned refreshed, recharged and re-energised. She felt able to cope with any obstacles.
Manage your energies – Dealing with knock-backs is easier when we are physically cared for. Skipping meals, dropping good old exercise habits, and being wired on caffeine can lead to feeling emotionally vulnerable. If you look after your body, you will be able to face inevitable life stresses. A colleague recently admitted that she started skipping lunch in the hope that she would get more work done in her lunch breaks. She stopped going for a brief lunch time walk and stayed in the office working on the computer. She realised in retrospect that her increased irritability and headaches were all connected to missing breaks. She noticed that her productivity decreased as a result of not eating. Inevitable work challenges affected her more and she felt drained by the end of the working day.
Be wary of burn out – Maintaining your resilience is a daily practice. Having a supportive community is paramount. Regular reflection can go a long way. Techniques can make a difference. However, you need to recognise when developing more resilience is not the answer. You can burn yourself out by staying in permanently unhelpful environments. There may come a time when sticking things out even longer will not work. At times, changing direction could be the best remedy for better resilience. Recognise when it is time to make a complete change and courageously go for it.