Why resilience is important and how we can grow it
During a discussion with a friend one day we both commented on how we needed resilience in our jobs. We also commented that we both felt that we weren’t particularly resilient.
But then we challenged ourselves. We realised we are resilient – we have both faced some tough situations and held high-stress roles. We judged ourselves for not perfectly feeling in control in trying times. But really, we each had an ability to keep on going and get the job done.
This is resilience in action.
It made me realise that resilience is a powerful and necessary factor for getting through everyday life. If we can nurture our resilience in good times, we can call on it in the bad. In turn, this helps us live our life confidently – going about our business and knowing that we can handle what comes our way.
What is Resilience?
Resilience is described as our ability to cope with challenges. These challenges may come from work, family, relationships or general life itself.
It is about how quickly we bounce back, stay on track and manage our emotions.
We all face change, stress and pressure. If we can navigate our way through these tough times, without causing further angst for ourselves, then we are resilient. However, if we find that life’s challenges get us even further down, then perhaps we need to work on our resilience.
Why is Resilience Important?
As mentioned above, life can be stressful at times. We all face change or unexpected circumstances. Stress is a part of modern-day life. We’ve all got multiple commitments and priorities, a feeling that there’s never enough hours in the day to get all the things done.
At work we may have difficult tasks, mounting deadlines and limited resources to get everything completed.
And then there are the times when unexpected issues, accidents and dilemmas arise.
Knowing that we are resilient and can get through this with minimum fuss helps us trust in our ability to actually get through when we are faced with difficult situations. When we’re confident we can handle the situation, it makes the ‘going through it’ simpler.
Can I Become More Resilient?
Yes, we absolutely can become more resilient. We can build our resilience during a time of pressure, and in our everyday lives.
In the Moment
If we are feeling at a point where we’re about to break due to pressure, there’s a range of things we can do to help get through.
1. Ask for Help
We can call on others to help us. We are not alone, not an island. There’s always someone to help. Whether it is calling a friend to vent to them about the situation, that may be enough to clear the air, know that we’ve been heard and understood, then we can get on with it. Or we may delegate some of the activities we have so that we focus only on the most critical tasks required.
Either way, seeking the assistance of others is not a sign of weakness, it is a sign of strength – that we are calling on whatever resources are available to accomplish the challenge.
2. Enjoy Some Health Habits
Having an ability to de-stress gives us more margin and capacity to deal with what we’re facing. This is an important one, because when we’re busy we think we don’t have time for certain activities. E.g. we may skip the gym, go for fast food for the convenience rather than eating a healthy meal, or we may stop doing mediation because we just don’t feel we have the time to do it. But this is the irony – at times of stress, this is when we most need to look after ourselves so that we don’t break.
Having some healthy habits we can rely on to keep our body and mind strong really helps. Such as yoga, meditation, eating plenty of healthy foods, avoiding junk foods, getting enough sleep. Finding time for a healthy activity not only helps us physically and mentally but is a message to our inner selves that we are worthy and important enough of being taken care of.
3. Break Down Tasks
Sometimes the challenge ahead may seem overwhelming. But we don’t have to do it all at once. We can break down the challenge into smaller, more manageable pieces.
Taking a little bit of time to plan and prepare can help us see what is most important, and what can either be deleted from the equation or delayed until later when we have more time. In addition, we can then take it step by step, focusing on the next activity, rather than being concerned about the whole lot of it.
There’s so many other things we can do in the moment to be more resilient. But for me, the key ways to be resilient in the moment are – getting help, self-care and prioritising.
Nurturing Our Resilience
Over the longer-term we can practice a number of things to build our resilience so that we are prepared when the need arises.
1. Build Confidence
Being confident in life helps us take action in unfamiliar and challenging circumstances. The irony is that one of the key ways to build confidence is by taking action. So, acknowledging the new and difficult things we do that get us into our courage zone, out of our comfort zone, reinforces that we are confident, and have confidence when required.
2. Set Goals
Having goals in our life gives us something to work towards and look forward to. When we have times of stress and pressure, we can take a moment to reflect back on our goals and gain some perspective. It may be that we need these difficult times to get us closer to our goals. Or reading our goals may simply provide a nice reminder that we have some wonderful things to look forward to, and while we might be doing it tough right now, there’s better and brighter things on our horizon.
Setting goals gives us both a future focus and immediate inspiration.
3. Know Your Strengths
Being confident in knowing what we are good at helps us approach situations with a strengths-mindset. Instead of looking at scenarios and feeling worried about what we don’t have, we can call on the talents that we do have and leverage those strengths to get us through.
For example, we may need to have a difficult negotiation. Instead of feeling worried about not being good at confrontation, we can feel empowered that we are good at planning, and we can run through some scenarios in our head before we approach the negotiation to feel better prepared.
If you don’t know your strengths, take a few minutes to think about them and write them down, or you can take a free online assessment, such as this one, to learn more about your strengths.
4. Regularly Manage Stress
We are always going to face stress, but that doesn’t mean it is always high stress. However, even in times of normal everyday stress, we need to be good at managing our response to this stress, so that it does not get out of control.
Again, healthy habits such as eating clean foods, regular exercise, mindfulness, meditation and sleep are all known ways to manage stress. Also, being in tune with how we feel from day to day allows us to get on top of stress when it starts to rise.
5. Practice Positive Self-Talk
Some people say we are what we eat. I believe, in addition, we are what we think.
Our minds are with us at all times. We may as well feed our mind positive messages.
Being in the habit of positive self-talk can be a blessing when we are facing a challenge. Instead of getting caught up in the fear or pressure of the situation, we can change our thoughts to be more constructive and positive. There’s no point making a difficult situation worse by having a negative train of thoughts run through our mind when we’re trying to get stuff done.
Practising positive self-talk in the good times strengthens our ability to give ourselves a positive boost in the tough times.
Following these strategies above when we’re needing to get through a challenge, or in our everyday life will nurture our resilience.
While all of them may not speak to you, pay attention to the strategies that resonate most with you. These are the ones that you can make part of your regular routine. Practice makes perfect.
By testing, experimenting and trying these strategies, we can figure out what will nurture our resilience so it is there when we need to call on it.
What techniques do you use to nurture your resilience? Let me know in the comments below.