Resilience – your resource against challenging times

Now more than ever we have had to harness our ability to be resilient in the face of the many adversities we have been facing. As an individual, in our workspace, and as a society. We are being challenged to muster up the energy, the will and the courage to survive and thrive in what has been for many of us the traumatic experience and impact of Covid-19.

The emotional anguish we have experienced has been rife, leaving us feeling frazzled, exasperated, sad, shocked, depressed, anxious, and so the list continues. We find ourselves questioning everything – our way of life, how we relate to each other, the value that we are adding in our jobs, our job security, what the future will hold. Glimmers of hope appear and then fade away just as quickly. An emotional roller-coaster to say the least.

Fortunately, the research on resilience tells us that you can rise from adversity and that it is possible to make yourself think and act in certain ways that help you navigate tough times. Resilience is the process of adapting well in the face of adversity, trauma, tragedy, threats or even significant forms of stress (American Psychological Association).  Simply put, resilience is the ability to adapt and bounce back despite adversity.

Dr. Lucy Hone (Co-director of the New Zealand Institute of Wellbeing & Resilience and adjunct fellow at the University of Canterbury in Christchurch, New Zealand), offers 3 strategies to help you cope and build the resilience to adapt to the adversities being faced.

1. Know that suffering is part of life.

Knowing that suffering is part of every human existence stops you from feeling discriminated against when challenges present themselves. Things will not always go the way you want them to. You will encounter frustrations, losses will occur, you will make mistakes, bump against your limitations, fall short of your ideals. This is the human condition, a reality shared by all of us. The more you open you heart and mind to this shared reality instead of constantly fighting against it, the more you will be able to show compassion towards yourself and manage the sense of isolation that you might be feeling; recognising that it is not a novel experience to “me” alone.

Social media has clouded our reality that life is only comprised of shiny, happy photos on Instagram. In fact, the very opposite is true.

 

Tip: How can you show more warmth and understanding towards yourself and what you are grappling with? More specifically, in which ways can you care for yourself during this difficult time?

Consider the following. How much time and energy are you devoting to activities that are important, satisfying, motivating, fulfilling, purposeful to you? Consider your top 1 – 3 values that you uphold (refer to the diagram). In which areas can you increase or decrease the time and energy in these areas?

 

2. Carefully choose where you’re directing your attention

Resilient people have learnt to manage their focus on the things they can change and they have learnt to accept the things they can’t. This requires a realistic appraisal of the situation and a balanced and flexible approach to manage your response to an adversarial event. For example, allow yourself to experience strong emotions at times and also realise when you should avoid such emotions to continue functioning, or becoming highly active in resolving challenges that you might be facing, whilst ensuring that you have time for recuperation.

 

Tip: The helpful techniques of Albert Ellis’s ABCDE model and the RAIN model can assist you to appraise situations and gain perspective where needed.

Additionally, resilient people have learned to tune in to the positive around them so that they do not become consumed and swept away by the negativity. During difficult times, a reminder or permission to feel gratitude is very powerful. Rather than wishing for what we do not have, there is strength in appreciating what we do have, right now.

Tip: Start finding 3 – 5 things to be grateful for each day.

3. Ask yourself: “Is what I’m doing helping me or harming me?”

This critical question can help you to become active and mindful in navigating your way through a challenging time. It enables you to retain control, power or influence over your thoughts, energy, emotions and what you occupy your time with to maintain a sense of wellbeing. For example, you might ask yourself” Is the way I am thinking and acting helping me or harming me to acquire a new client / craft an innovative idea / develop my team amidst the challenges my business is be facing?

Tip: On a daily basis, ask yourself is what I’m doing helping me or harming me to get closer to the goals that I have for myself? Consider any hindering activities, thoughts and emotions and how they may be addressed by developing a higher level of optimism, self-esteem, perseverance and problem-solving skills. Also, be prepared to change course should the route you are taking lead towards more harm than good.

Resilience is not a fixed or elusive trait that some people have and others don’t. By practising these coping strategies you will find you will be better equipped to face adversity with more strength and resilience. Is it often through suffering, challenges, and difficulty that we grow and learn more about ourselves. Do not allow yourself to be consumed with negativity.

For additional support in developing coping strategies for resilience, please contact Orgro and one of our consultants will be happy to assist.

By Katherine Plint
Director / Industrial Psychologist

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