2 Ways to Build Resilience Now
Manage stress with “bouncebackability.”
Posted Aug 27, 2020
The workforce is stressed like never before. I’m sure you will take that statement at face value—but just in case, surveys indicate that 83% of U.S. workers experience work-related stress. Ouch! While not all stress is bad, too much stress can lead to problems for us. Not only is stress bad on our performance at work, but it can take a serious toll on our bodies. And this accumulation of daily stressors can ultimately lead us to burnout, which is the feeling of wanting to give up.
So, what should we do about this? I recently wrote about emotional intelligence as a way to manage stress, and I would encourage you to check that out if you haven’t already. Now I want to tell you about building resilience to help you manage your stress.
Resilience is the ability to recover from stress quickly and is sometimes referred to as “bouncebackability.” Think about a rubber band: if you hold a rubber band and pull it apart (that is, place it under stress) it stretches. But once you let go, it bounces back to its normal shape. That is what resilience like for us. We all experience stressors on a regular basis. But do we bounce back like a rubber band or stay stretched out under stress indefinitely?
Resilience is the ability to recover from stress quickly
The good news is that resilience is something we can build to help us beat stress. And the even better news is that resilience is related to a lot of great outcomes that will benefit us. For instance, workers who are resilient are more satisfied with their jobs and perform better at their jobs compared to less resilient workers.
So how can we build resilience? Here are two practical ways you can build resilience now!
1. Increase Positive Emotions
Depending on which lens we look through, we can say that the world is full of positivity or full of negativity. Unfortunately, we are hard-wired to pay more attention to the negative because oftentimes negative information is perceived as a threat to us (and we pay attention to those “threats” so that we can guard ourselves against them). The reality is that these “threats” are rarely an actual threat, but our minds give more attention to this negative information, nonetheless. Take Susan, for example: She noticed that a majority of the posts she read on social media were negative and that after reading these posts her mood was down. And she’s not alone. A study conducted in 2019 revealed that over 70% of Facebook users felt that the platform was toxic.
Why is this positive vs. negative information important? We all experience stressors on a regular basis. That’s a given. So it stands to reason that we should not choose to add additional stressors on top of that. Instead, we should combat the stressors—the negative—with positive information that will lead to a more positive emotional state. In other words, choose the positive. By intentionally increasing the positive emotions we are building up a buffer that can assist in combating the negative stressors that are inevitable in life.
Try this: Adjust your inputs in favor of the positive. Susan decided to decrease the amount of time she spent per day on social media. And, in addition, she decided to unfollow some social media accounts that made negative posts more often than positive posts. She also decided to increase her interactions—phone calls, text messages, and in-person chats—with people who are more positive in nature. By doing so she built up a store of positive emotions that help her bounce back from daily stressors.
2. Positive Reframing of Stressors
Keeping with the idea that we experience stressors daily, the second strategy for building resilience is related to how we respond to those stressors. During the work week, I have a daily commute of approximately 30 minutes each way. However, some days there is an auto accident or construction that causes traffic to grind to a halt. When this happens—and it does happen frequently—I have two choices. One choice is to bang on the steering wheel and yell in anger that my commute has been prolonged. Or I can choose to positively reframe the situation. That is, I can accept that the slow down is annoying, but also be grateful for many things in the process. For one, I can be grateful that I was not involved in the collision up ahead that caused the slowdown. Or I can be grateful for the fact that I have a job that I love on the other end of the commute
Try this: When you encounter daily stressors ask yourself this question: “How big of a deal will this be in _____?” (you fill in the blank with the time frame—one hour, one day, one week). While there are stressors that will be a big deal and have a major impact on you for an extended period of time, what I have found is that many of the daily stressors I have are not a big deal. Is sitting still on the highway during my commute frustrating? Yes. Is it worth ruining my day over because I allow my attitude to turn sour based on my reaction? No.
Try these two strategies for building resilience and start beating stress today!