Building Resilience

Currently, one-fourth to one-third of all employees view their job as the number one stressor in their lives, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.  Many of us work in constantly connected, always-on, highly demanding work cultures where stress and the risk of burnout are universal. Since the pace and intensity is not likely to change, it’s important to build resilience skills to effectively navigate our worklife.

Resilience a Positive Skill Set

As an executive coach, I have seen the most resilient individuals and teams aren’t the ones that don’t fail.  But are the ones that fail, learn, and thrive because of it.  I too have experienced several professional and personal watershed moments.  I am not sugar coating the stress, but have had time to reflect on how I have risen above it.   Whatever the cause of your stress, I believe the challenges we face are part of what activates resilience as a positive skill set.

Research has shown that resilient individuals are optimistic.  They have the ability to self-manage strong or difficult emotions and maintain a social support system.  The good news is that you can learn to be more resilient by adopting these behaviors and skills.   

Some Causes of Work Stress

It’s important to understand some of the factors that cause us to feel so overwhelmed and stressed at work. Our work culture is a reflection of the competitive business landscape and complexities.  Disruptors such as technology and business models may be the result of our frenetic way of working.  Certainly, being hyperconnected and responsive to work anytime, anywhere, can be extremely taxing. These increased levels of stress continue to have a direct and detrimental relationship on our wellness and productivity.

All Stress is Not Equal

An important distinction is that not all stress is created equal and there are some types of stress that may have a positive effect on our well-being and productivity. “Good stress” or flourishing can motivate us to be our best, and help us perform at our peak.  A “good stressor” may include working towards a personal goal, time constrained projects, or managing the varied responsibilities tied to our work performance.

Building Resilience

How can you develop resilience and stay motivated in the face of constantly increasing demands, complexity and changes in your worklife?

Create dedicated times in the day to do specific work-related activities. Be deliberate about compartmentalizing different types of work activities such as emailing, strategy or brainstorming sessions, and meetings.  According to recent research published by the American Psychological Association, multitasking reduces your productivity by as much as 40%.

Take periodic breaks throughout the workday.   Research suggests that balancing work activity with even a brief time for detaching from those activities can promote greater energy, mental clarity, creativity and focus, ultimately growing your capacity for resilience throughout the course of the workday. Reset your energy and attention every 90-120 minutes.   

Acknowledge feeling stressed.  Pause and respond to rather than react to any difficult situation or person.  The ability to pause, step back, reflect, and shift perspectives will help you effectively pivot and create options to manage the stress.   

Cultivate compassion. One of the most overlooked aspects of the resilience skill set is the ability to cultivate compassion; both self-compassion and compassion for others. According to research cited by the Greater Good Science Center at UC Berkeley, compassion increases positive emotions, creates positive work relationships, and increases cooperation and collaboration.

Next time you are feeling battered by the constant stress in your work life, ask yourself the following:

  • What can I appreciate from this experience?   
  • How do I feel about this situation?
  • What can I do to renew myself and others?
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1 Comment

  • Edwin Spayd / November 2, 2017 at 9:14 am

    Just wanted to let you know i enjoyed and can relate to this article!

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