Building Resilience To Thrive During Times Of Stress And Pressure At Work

Resilience is a pre-requisite for surviving the fast paced, demanding and ever changing work environment.  In our modern world of highly stressful roles, where the pressure to perform is relentless and the resources are diminishing, we need to be equipped to ride out the difficult times and bounce back from setbacks. 

To be resilient means having the capacity to respond to the day to day pressures of our job and the demands of our daily life.

It means responding to change in a calm, optimistic manner.  It’s the ability to absorb the hard knocks, dust yourself off and keep going when the going gets tough.  It is being able to remain confident and maintain your self belief in the face of perceived failure. 

Having resilience creates security in a constantly changing world. 

At work, people with lower levels of resilience tend to become disengaged, unproductive and struggle with low self esteem during periods of pressure, stress and change.  They are more prone to illness and emotional distress often resulting in time off work.

Some years ago I experienced first hand the effects of diminished resilience.  As is so very common in the ever changing corporate environment, I found myself in the midst of a corporate take over.  Everything about my working environment and my role changed… and I didn’t cope with it very well. 

I failed to see the opportunities in the change or to focus on what I could control or influence.  I felt overwhelmed and angry and my confidence in my abilities plummeted.

Worst of all, my health suffered. I was living in a fog, with a constant feeling like I was onto my third glass of bubbles.  At first that might sound entertaining… but it was exhausting, to the point of requiring time off work and medical investigations to diagnose the cause of my strange symptoms (and rule out some frightening possibilities).

This experience made me wonder, is it possible to boost our resilience? 

The good news is – YES we can learn to boost our ability to cope, thrive and flourish in the face of adversity. 

The ability to cope with pressure, challenging times and uncertainty relies on developing particular thought patterns, attitudes and skills.

What I needed all those years ago wasn’t medical intervention.  What I needed was to look at my situation in a different way.  To take back the control of my career and to take action on what I could influence rather than worry over what I could not change.  

Add in plenty of sleep, exercise and healthy eating and all my symptoms disappeared almost overnight.

So if you want to boost your own inherent resilience to maximise your ability to bounce back, here’s what I would suggest.

1.  Accept change as part of life.  Resisting change is fruitless and tiring.  We need to not only accept change but also expect it to happen and then look for the opportunities that open up when it does.  Develop the habit of seeing each challenge as a catalyst for acquiring or mastering new skills and experiences. 

2.  Avoid making a drama out of your stresses and pressures.  Stress, pressure and uncertainty are all part of life.  The events of your life are not what shape you. It is how you choose to respond that has the biggest impact.    

3.  Choose optimism and take positive action.  Positive people are more resilient than those who are not.  Choose to focus on what is going well in your life and at work rather than the challenges, disappointments and setbacks. 

We are hard-wired as part of our survival instinct to pay more attention to the negative… but it is possible to switch your thoughts to see the opportunities that are available in almost every situation. 

4.  Look at the bigger picture.  Let go of your preoccupation with the pressures and deadlines you have directly in front of you and look at the bigger picture for your life and your career. Focusing on your longer term goals can add perspective to your situation. 

5.  Prioritise your health and wellbeing.  Your ability to deliver results at work is influenced by everything you do… including managing your physical, emotional and spiritual wellbeing. 

When you are tired and run down you can not give your best whether it is in meetings, staying productive and engaged or being present for your team members when they need your help.  Taking care of YOU is the foundation to building your resilience and your ability to handle whatever comes your way.

By learning to become more resilient you can bring a new power, direction and energy to your career.  By adopting a sense of optimism, focusing on what you can influence and taking care of your health and wellbeing, you can achieve greater success at work and find greater enjoyment in your life. 



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