8 tips on building personal resilience

The extent of our ability to take stress-inducing situations in our stride and endure hardships has really been put to the test this past year. Both at work and in our private lives, the pandemic has increased the daily challenges we face, having a significant impact on our health, relationships and financial circumstances.

We know that there are people with strong resilience who survive and thrive despite such difficult situations. But what makes a person resilient and can it be built up?

Illustration of a man propping up towers

Resilience can be considered as ‘partly a semi-permanent psychological trait and partly a variable psychological state’*. This means that while some people are naturally more resilient than others, one’s personal resilience can also be influenced by external factors existing in their environment. Focusing on the state aspect of resilience can help determine what practical steps you can do to improve resilience.

As we continue to face difficult challenges ahead, here are a few tips on building your resilience.

1. Assess your current position

Take a step back and understand the situation you’re in. Are you in the place you want to be? What’s on your ‘To-Do’ list? Are you doing it for yourself or someone else? By asking yourself questions like these, you can gain insight into your needs and priorities, which helps to put everything into perspective. You can then see where you might be spending excessive energy or putting yourself under unnecessary stress.

2. Set SMART goals

Setting realistic, achievable goals for yourself has significant benefits. First, it helps you focus and gives you a sense of purpose, secondly splitting big tasks into several smaller goals makes them much more manageable, and last but not least, it gives you something to celebrate. It will prevent you from feeling overwhelmed and, by tackling tasks one step at a time, can make roadblocks much easier to navigate.

3. Acknowledge your failings

A lot of us fear making mistakes or being rejected. But resilient people see failure and rejection as stepping stones towards their goal. They’re something to acknowledge, to grow and learn from, not something that’ll stop you in your tracks. As Thomas Edison famously said, ‘I have not failed. I’ve just found 10,000 ways that won’t work.’ Seeing past mistakes and failings in a more positive light, and as necessary steps to get closer to your goals, demonstrates resilience.

4. Practice mindfulness

For many, mindfulness is an effective route to building resilience. By freeing your mind, you leave more space for problem solving and inspiration that will help you to cope better with pressure. Give yourself time to prepare for daily tasks, such as calls or meetings, and to reflect on them afterwards; when working on intensive projects, set small breaks or diversify your work so you have a chance to do different things during the day.

5. Take care of your wellbeing

When things seem to be going downhill, it can be all too easy to neglect your own needs. Losing your appetite, ignoring exercise and not getting enough sleep are all common reactions to pressure. This is not only detrimental to your physical wellbeing but also your mental health. By taking care of your own needs, you will protect your overall health, boost your resilience and be fully ready to face life’s challenges.

6. Embrace change

Flexibility is an essential part of resilience. By learning to love change, you will be better equipped to respond to any unexpected issues that may arise. This often involves increasing your curiosity and openness to new experiences and getting outside your comfort zone, both in and out of work. Being open to change can provide you with opportunities that you may not have considered possible before.

7. Learn new things

To adapt to change, you need to be a continuous learner, whether it be something as simple as watching a TED talk or listening to a podcast episode. While it might seem like a time drain, by cutting time out for learning and opening your mind, you can come across new methods and ways of thinking that can revolutionise the way you work.

8. Don’t take your job too seriously

Having a sense of responsibility is important, but you need to know when to stop. Obsessing about your job, especially when things might not be going well, can easily lead to overwork and eventually burnout. If things are getting tough, don’t take it all upon yourself and remember that you have a team to seek support and guidance from.

Resilient people don’t just survive in stressful situations but thrive in them, enhancing their potential for growth and productivity. Companies looking to develop a strong pool of talent will do well to encourage their employees to build personal resilience by creating an environment that helps them develop the appropriate skills and offers supports during times of stress.

*https://www.cipd.co.uk/knowledge/culture/well-being/evidence-resilience

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