Building Resilience In 2021
Challenges and uncertainty set to continue
Mindfulness, breathing and stress training can build your personal resilience
Gratitude and social interaction fosters a culture of team resilience
It’s tempting to think that with 2020 behind us, everything is suddenly going to get a whole lot easier. However, 2021 is going to hold more than its share of challenges. If we’re all going to make it through the year unscathed, we need to put some time and energy into working on the resilience of ourselves, our teams, and our systems.
What Is Resilience?
It helps if we start from a shared understanding of what resilience means. At its heart, resilience is your ability to deal with change. Change is always challenging. The more drastic or unexpected the change, the more stressful it is to deal with.
Resilience is something that you can build up. It’s also something that you need to maintain. After the year we’ve all had, everyone’s strength is likely at a low ebb. It’s vital to look forward and plan ways to focus on resilience if you want to turn 2021 into a growth opportunity.
Building Personal Resilience
Before you can consider building resilience in those around you, it’s important to look inwards and build your personal resilience. Here are a few key ways to work on your own resilience.
Stress is something that can creep up on you. You might not realise that you’re suffering from the effects of too much pressure until it’s beginning to overwhelm you. For this reason, mindfulness is an excellent habit to get into.
Mindfulness is a type of meditation where you focus on your feelings and sensations. It helps you to become aware of your state of mind and how you’re coping. This has been proven to be highly effective for reducing stress and increasing your ability to deal with change and external pressures.
If you’ve not tried mindfulness or meditation before, there are many easy ways to get started. There are apps like Headspace and Calm, which will guide you through the meditations. They also offer many different ways to meditate so you can find one that works for you. It needn’t take a long time for it to be effective. 5-10 minutes a day is all it takes to reap the significant benefits.
Take Control Of Your Life
One of the main reasons that change is so stressful is the lack of control. If everything is changing around you, it can feel like everything is simply happening to you, and you have no agency.
To counteract this, you need to be conscious about maintaining some control over your work life. This can mean stopping the slide towards working through your lunch hour. Just because you’re near your kitchen doesn’t mean that you don’t still need to take the time for lunch. Just because someone asks for a meeting at the end of the day, it doesn’t mean you have to say yes.
Taking some ownership over your daily work schedule can give you a feeling of control. This can make it easier to deal with all the things you can’t control.
Train Your Body To Deal With Stress
Stress has a physical and measurable effect on your body. Pressures in life can cause your body to produce larger amounts of cortisol (the stress hormone). If you get stressed quickly, it may be because your body isn’t very good at dealing with the cortisol build up.
However, this is something you can train your body to get better at. You can expose your body to physical stress, such as a challenging workout. Even taking a cold shower is another way to get the same sort of effect. There are some real psychological benefits to this sort of stress training, even in the short run.
This is something you should only really do when you are otherwise happy, calm, and healthy. Adding more stress to a stressful day isn’t going to help anything. So, only try this when you’re feeling calm and in control.
If you’re already feeling the effects of stress, one of the easiest ways to lower stress and cortisol levels is deep breathing. Studies have shown that you can reduce cortisol levels in the body by as much as 50% with just a few minutes of deep, focused breathing. Sleeping well also helps to lower stress which eating a small amount of dark chocolate per day has been shown to keep cortisol levels stable too!
Building Resilience Within Teams And Businesses
Building resilience into our teams and workplaces is vital. For your business to work effectively, you need all your team members to be at their best. It can be beneficial not only for your team members but also for your productivity to spend some resources to build everyone’s resilience.
Provide Opportunities For Connection
We are all social creatures. Some of us need more social interactions than others. Work has always been a major source of these interactions for most people. With offices now closed and everyone working remotely, the loss of office life is becoming more and more apparent. Many workers are now eager to get back to the office, which is a significant turnaround from 6 months ago.
While you may be continuing to rely on remote working to keep everyone safe, it can be advisable to provide opportunities for your teams to connect and have those social interactions they are missing. Ensure you are empathetic and open to communication and encourage your teams to express how they are feeling.
Build A Culture of Gratitude
Gratitude is a potent tool. Expressing your gratitude for the things you have, the people around you or what you’ve achieved is a great way to lift your mood and reduce stress. If you can encourage a culture that values gratitude, you will be able to share the benefits of this simple psychological tool with your team.
The trick is to encourage everyone to express gratitude. While being appreciated feels good, it’s the experience of being grateful that has the most significant benefits.
Encourage A Healthy Work/Life Balance
When work moved out of the office and into our homes, the line between work and life got blurred. It’s essential to keep an eye on your teams to ensure that they take time for themselves. For instance, if you notice that someone is emailing out of office hours, you might want to check in with them and remind them that they can, and should, take time for themselves as well.
If people aren’t turning off from work, they’re going to burn out a lot faster.
Remember, if you find your own way of building resilience and lowering stress, then your team may want to know your secrets. You may want to invite your team their top tips on how to unwind and re-energise, so you can all try something new to feel good.