Everyone experiences trauma, adversity, and stress. This blog outlines some of the tools and techniques you can utilise to become more resilient and emerge stronger than before.

What is resilience?

There are no collectively accepted scientific definitions of resiliency. However, in the Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, Tugade and Fredrickson1 provide the following definition.

“Psychological resilience has been characterised by the ability to bounce back from negative emotional experiences and by flexible adaptation to the changing demands of stressful experiences”

Everyone has their map of the world. We all experience ups and downs, from daily challenges to traumatic experiences, like divorce, serious illness, or the loss of a family member. These encounters affect thought processes and emotions, which can lead to long periods of anxiety and stress. However, over time people tend to adapt well to their situations due to resilience.

Phycologists such as Deiner2 describe resilience as a process of positive adaptation during times of adversity, such as health issues or financial and workplace stress. Adapting to these challenging situations includes a degree of personal development and the process of “bouncing back”.

Although these challenging experiences are painful and testing, they do not determine your future. You can adopt simple daily habits and behaviours that help you grow, adjust, and control your life. Developing resilience enables you to navigate challenging experiences, and it facilitates personal growth and the ability to change your life.

Somebody can develop resilience by changing their daily behaviours, thoughts and actions. For example, people who lack resilience will view negative experiences as traumatic, whereas more resilient or hardy people will reframe them as opportunities for personal growth3. Building resilience is like lifting weights to build muscle; by working on positive thinking, wellness, connection and purpose, we can increase our ability to withstand trauma.

Positive Thinking

Accept ambiguity: Some people view ambiguity as dangerous or threatening, however accepting that everything in life changes will help you concentrate on the aspects you can influence.

Maintain perspective: Our thoughts affect how we feel physically, so try to identify negative and unhelpful thought processes and challenge them. One method to adjust our perspective is to view the situation from the third person; this makes it less experiential and increases subjectivity.

View failures as an opportunity to improve: Do not beat yourself up if something does not work out as planned. Instead, look to see what you learn from the situation and move on.

Wellness

Be kind to your body: Stress affects us physically and mentally. So, look after your body by exercising, eating healthily, hydrating, and getting enough sleep. These simple acts can strengthen your body’s ability to withstand stress and anxiety.

Practice mindfulness: Becoming more aware of the present moment can help us spot negative thought processes quicker and help us understand ourselves better. Mindfulness is commonly practised during performance breathing, yoga, meditation, or prayer but can be done whilst completing simple tasks like washing up.

Connection

Build a network: Resilience is not just about the individual; it is increased by having strong relationships and networks. They help people share increases in workload, make sense of workplace politics, push back where necessary, and receive empathic support.

Purpose

Find your why: Focus your effort on what matters most to you. Austrian psychiatrist Viktor Frankl said, “He who has a why to live for can bear with almost any how.”4 Find out what you a passionate about and try to connect with a cause bigger than yourself.

Move towards your objectives: Develop some achievable long-term goals and break them into small manageable tasks. Then, try to accomplish something every day that moves you towards your goal and celebrate the achievement.

How does resilience affect UK employers?

Mental Health can be one of the most expensive neglections a business can make. They estimate mental health to cost UK employers £32-42bn each year5.

A recent study showed that 15% of the working population in the UK lives with an existing mental health condition, which costs employers an average of £1,119-£1,481 per employee5.

Our resilience solutions can reduce these costs and give a Return On Investment of up to 9:1.

Acknowledgements
  1. Tugade, M. M., & Fredrickson, B. L. (2004). Resilient individuals use positive emotions to bounce back from negative emotional experiences. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 86, 320-333.
  2. Deiner, E. (2000). Subjective well-being. American Psychologist, 55, 34-43.
  3. Orr, E., & Westman, M. (1990). Does hardiness moderate stress, and how? A review. In M. Rosenbaum (Ed.), Learned resourcefulness: On coping skills. self-control, and adaptive behaviour. New York: Springer.
  4. Frankl, V. (1946). Man’s search for meaning. Beacon Press, 72.
  5. Deloitte-Mental health and employers: The case for investment, supporting study for the Stephenson/Farmer review 2017.

Author: Mick Murphy