Uncertainty, restructuring, changing priorities, dispersed teams, fewer resources – these are just a few of the pressures we face in our busy working lives. 360 explores some mindful strategies for building personal resilience and wellbeing at work.
Stress – it’s the global epidemic of the 21st Century, according to the World Health Organization, and no one looks like coming up with a cure any time soon. No one can predict what life and work will throw at us, or how much our stress levels will soar, but some people seem to handle uncertainty and tension much better than others. How do some individuals recover so quickly from setbacks, manage their emotions effectively and find ways to adapt and keep moving forward? They weren’t born with a special resilience gene, but learned how to build up their personal resilience. Thankfully, we can all learn to be stronger. Read on for some tips to untangle the tension…
You can’t tackle stress if you aren’t taking care of your own mind and body. Get the basics right first: a good night’s sleep, a healthy diet and an exercise regimen are tried-and-true routes to a healthier, happier you. Walk up the stairs rather than take the lift. Go to bed in good time every night. Don’t let late browsing of all those electronic devices sabotage your sleep – switch them off. And don’t stay shackled to your desk: taking short, regular breaks at work and a well-earned lunch out of the office will increase your productivity.
Establish your work goals by taking the time to reflect on exactly what they are, then take small steps towards them each day. Resilient people recover quickly from adversity because they have an in-built sense of purpose and clear goals they are committed to achieving. What are your work values? They might include honesty, adaptability or self-confidence. A kernel of values at the heart of your working practice will help keep you focused and able to navigate through daily stresses and strains.
Do you feel in control? If you take responsibility for your problems and proactively manage your response, you have what is known as an ‘internal locus of control’. Those without it believe that whatever happens to them is beyond their control. They lack the confidence in their ability to influence outcomes through their own actions. They might sigh “Why me?” or “Everything happens for a reason”. If you feel like this, find ways to recognise and manage your emotions effectively. Analysing your problems, hunting out the root causes and considering solutions is the next step.
We all know that voice in our head telling us we’re no good, that we’re out of our depth or that our career is in jeopardy if we’re found out. Negative self-talk can affect our internal locus of control and leave us feeling powerless and adrift in the workplace. Learn to recognise the voice, listen to what it’s saying and dispute it. Gain some perspective on what you are saying about yourself – what positive feedback have you had from colleagues? What can you do better next time? Mindfulness techniques can help you distance yourself from negative thoughts and emotions rather than get tangled up in them.
Good relationships – at home and at work – are crucial to coping with stress. Being able to rely on people when you need support, or just sympathy, helps keep work challenges in perspective. Take time to map out your support network and consider how to strengthen and extend it. Remember that you are a part of other people’s support networks too, and helping them out builds your mental strength and scales up your own trusted networks.
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