Building resilience helps in getting through tougher times and leading better

There is a reason airline safety messages say “grab your own oxygen mask first”, because you can’t support others without it. The same is true when it comes to leading in challenging times, strengthening your own levels of resilience helps you to lead more effectively and compassionately.

Tougher times demand a great deal from us all. Shane Fitzsimmons, Commissioner, Resilience NSW, recently said, he can’t understand anyone who says they’re ok right now. It’s ok to not be ok. We’re all impacted by this pandemic.

Being resilient doesn’t mean that you won’t experience difficulty or distress. No one is immune to stress. Resilience is all about our ability to respond to ups and downs of life, bounce back from adversity and learn from the experience and grow.

Building resilience is like a muscle, it can be strengthened. Resilience is not a personality trait, it involves behaviours, thoughts, mindsets and actions that anyone can develop.

In Dr. Harry Barry’s book Emotional Resilience: How to Safeguard Your Mental Health he focuses on supporting people to change the way they think, the way they analyse and evaluate things and the way they react.

Resilience also has a physical, emotional and social component. So prioritising your health, getting good sleep, being active, eating healthy are as important as being self-aware, and understanding and managing your emotions. And research indicates resilient people – contrary to stereotypes of the independent person – enjoy strong relationships and support.

So, how can you build resilience for future times of challenge?

HBR outline 5 ways to build resilience at work and avoid getting bogged down by daily stressors.

Engaging in certain habits can also help strengthen our resilience for the future:

  • practice mindfulness and being present
  • engage in active communication with those you trust to discuss the ups and downs of life and confronting problems rather than escaping them
  • cultivate hobbies and explore your passions, commit to devoting quality time to doing the things that bring you joy
  • let go of perfection and failing forward
  • focus on what you can control
  • maintain a positive outlook by engaging in positive emotions (like hope, curiosity, gratitude and joy)
  • manage work boundaries by mono-tasking, taking breaks and ensuring you disconnect from work, in essence taking care of yourself allows you to re-energise
  • dedicate time to making and maintaining social connections.

Visit the Leadership and learning hub for further resources on strengthening your resilience and your mental wellbeing.

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