Resilience is the ability to adapt well in the face of adversity.
Having resilience helps you to recover more quickly from stressful situations. Resilience matters for two main reasons, resilience helps to protect you from stress and ensure you deliver high quality care and support. It’s not possible to take the pressure out of care work – which makes it all the more essential to do what you can to help yourself cope with pressure – to become, in other words, more resilient.
Being emotionally resilient doesn’t mean you aren’t impacted by life or that you never have “bad” days. It means you can feel a wide range of emotions and return to a stable baseline.
As humans, we feel a spectrum of emotions. While it’s good to be positive, it’s also helpful to allow yourself to feel exactly what you feel— even when it’s “negative” (sad, angry, envious). Repressing or denying emotions doesn’t make them go away. It can actually keep us caught in loops that make us “stuck.” Our minds are good at believing what we “should” feel. For example by saying: “I should be over this by now." Our minds are also good (specifically if you’ve experienced childhood trauma) at beating ourselves up. We tend to internalise the voices of critical parents. For example when saying: “I’m an idiot. Why did I do that.”
Being emotionally resilient is about self forgiveness. We practice self forgiveness through self talk. This is important because the way we speak to ourselves creates an emotional response in the body. Here are some self-talk quotes for emotional resilience.
- “I did the best I could”
- “That was my coping mechanism and I release the shame”
- “Today is one day. Tomorrow is a new opportunity for me.”
- “I’m learning as I go. Im not perfect and that’s ok.”
- “I’m safe now. It’s safe to feel good.”
- “This is one moment of my life. This too will pass.”
- “I forgive me for what I did when I was hurt.”
- “I forgive me for hurting others and believe in my overall goodness.”
- “Good things come for me”
By now dismissing, shaming ourselves, or attempting to talk ourselves out of how we feel— we create safety for ourselves. The more safe we feel, the more resilient we become. When we’re in fight or flight our thoughts match our nervous system state. For example: doomsday thoughts, self criticism, worst case scenarios. Being able to witness this cycle and speak to ourselves as a kind, loving parent creates emotional resilience.
The more we speak to ourselves this way the more we widen our window of tolerance— our window of tolerance is our ability to feel discomfort.
We have listed some tips you can try to build your resilience:
- Practice self-awareness. Noticing how you are feeling and recognising when pressure is causing a problem.
- Learn coping strategies. Having strategies in mind which can be put in place when you encounter a stressful situation.
- Develop a positive outlook. Employing realistic optimism, which means appraising situations as they are and then making the best of them. For instance, engaging with life positively and constructively, taking personal responsibility and looking for solutions to problems.
- Making connections. Our brains need social support to function optimally. Social connection releases oxytocin which calms your mind. Also, social interactions can contribute to the reduction of stress and help you to perceive a challenging situation as more manageable.
- Making time for activities you enjoy. Incorporating these into your daily activities will create opportunities for you to emotionally recharge.
- Having a sense of purpose and direction. When dealing with challenging situations, it may help to refer back to a calling, a purpose or a passion as this could help reduce your stress.
Learn in more depth about building personal resilience. This guide contains further information about skills and activities you can do to increase your resilience.
Resilience is critical in the workplace as employees can better manage work-related stress, deal with adversity, and overcome challenges with an open mind. Resilient employees also tend to perform better and are shown to have greater job satisfaction.
Here are six tips to help with building resilience at work:
- Look after yourself: when you take care of your mind and body, you are better able to cope effectively with challenges in your life. Improve your physical wellbeing by focusing on eating healthily, staying hydrated, exercising and getting plenty of sleep.
- Balance: this can be challenging in today’s working world, however having a good work-life balance can help to reduce stress and prevent burnout.
- Develop a strong network: having a good relationship with your colleagues at work builds trust and allows you to communicate freely about potential issues. It may also help you to see things from a new perspective and discover solutions.
- See adversity as an opportunity: reflect on your experiences, both good and bad, and see them as a learning experience which will help you to grow and develop.
- Give yourself a break: time away from your normal routine can help you to feel refreshed, even if it is for a short period. Try to get a change of scenery by going for a walk or going for a coffee.
- Maintain perspective: the way in which we think plays a significant role in how resilient we are when faced with obstacles. Although some situations may seem overwhelming in the moment, it may not make that much of an impact in the long-term. Try to avoid catastrophising these situations, and take a more realistic and balanced approach.