The ability to ‘bounce back’ from a setback is known as resilience and is defined as the ability to successfully adapt to difficult or challenging life experiences.
Although it is accepted that individuals react to stress in different ways, research suggests that resilience is a skill that can be learned and sustained in both personal and professional contexts. By increasing our levels of resilience, we become more flexible mentally, emotionally and, consequently, learn to adapt and better cope with workplace stress.
Follow these steps to help you to become more resilient:
- Seek support
Make connections with people who can provide social support such as friends, employees and mentors. Good relationships with close family members, friends, or others are important and accepting help and support from those who care about you and will listen to you strengthens resilience.
- See setbacks as temporary
Avoid seeing crises as insurmountable and maintain a long-term view toward the future. You can’t change the fact that highly stressful events happen, but you can change how you interpret and respond to these events. Try looking beyond the present to how future circumstances may be a little better. Note any subtle ways in which you might already feel somewhat better as you deal with difficult situations.
- Embrace change
Accept that change (and the need to adapt to it) is part of day-to-day life. Certain goals may no longer be attainable as a result of adverse situations. Accepting circumstances that cannot be changed can help you focus on circumstances that you can change.
- Set realistic goals
Focus on small steps and realistic goals that can be accomplished regularly, even if it seems like a small achievement. These help enable you to move toward your goals. Instead of focusing on tasks that seem unachievable, ask yourself, “What’s one thing I know I can accomplish today that will help me move in the direction I want to go?”
- Take action
Take decisive action rather than wishing problems away. Don’t let your problems cripple you to the point of inertia or inaction. Take any action that moves you forward even if it is only a small step.
- Be flexible
Begin by learning how to compromise with your colleagues. The sooner you learn that your way isn’t the only way, the sooner you will see how to move through a stressful crisis. It may be inflexible thinking that got you into that stressful crisis in the first place.
- Look for opportunities for self-discovery
People often learn something about themselves and may find that they have grown in some respect as a result of their struggle with loss. Many people who have experienced tragedies and hardship have reported better relationships, greater sense of strength even while feeling vulnerable, increased sense of self-worth, a more developed spirituality and heightened appreciation for life.
- Nurture an attitude of gratitude
Nurture a positive view of yourself that allows you to trust your instincts. Before going to bed at night make a mental list of everything you have to be grateful for. Gratitude is one of the basic underpinnings of contentment and stress resilience.
- Maintain perspective
Even when facing very difficult events, try to consider the stressful situation in a broader context and keep a long-term perspective. Avoid blowing the event out of proportion.
- Take care of yourself
Pay attention to your own needs and feelings. Engage in activities that you enjoy and find relaxing and exercise regularly. Taking care of yourself helps to keep your mind and body primed to deal with situations that require resilience. These activities not only help you relax after a stressful day, they help make you more impervious to stress in the future.
Ultimately, resilience is often about accepting stressful situations as ‘opportunities’ for you to build your own character and grow as a person. Stress builds character and exercises your problem-solving ability. Seeing stress as an opportunity, and then learning how to cope and manage it, will allow you to appreciate life more, enjoy challenges and overcome obstacles that only temporarily block your way.