Employee Wellbeing - Building Resilience

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“There is nothing either good or bad but thinking makes it so”  William Shakespeare.

What is personal resilience and how can we use it to our advantage?

With 1 in 5 people suffering from stress there has never been a more prominent time to look at how we, as individuals can make ourselves stronger when faced with adverse situations. Resilience shows an individuals ability to embrace change and cope in the face of adversity. By examining our thoughts, feelings and behaviours we are able to learn skills that can make us more resilient in stressful situations such as work, home, financial, family or health.

As individuals our resilience levels vary; what is stressful for one person is not necessarily stressful for another.  The Health and Safety Executive (HSE) states stress as 'the adverse reaction people have to excessive pressures or other types of demand placed on them'. Limited pressure is good for us. If managed properly pressure is something that creates a positive outcome on health and wellbeing and gives a sense of purpose. If managed poorly it can lead to stress and individuals become ill. No amount of stress is good for us.

Stressed people

  • Find it difficult to handle stressful situations
  • Focus on the negatives rather than positives
  • Do not understand the link between thoughts, feelings and behaviours
  • Often feel alone and do not call upon their support network
  • Find it difficult to perform in times of pressure

Resilient people

  • Flourish personally and professionally
  • Cope in times of pressure and adversity
  • Deal effectively with the causes and symptoms of stress
  • Have high levels of emotional wellbeing
  • Understand the link between their thoughts, feelings and behaviours

“I have not failed. I've just found 10,000 ways that won't work.” And “I never did a day's work in my life. It was all fun.” Both are quotes from Thomas Edison who invented the light bulb. If he hadn’t had such resilience to failure he would never have been the success he was.

How to change our thinking patterns to lead to better levels or resilience

A - Activating belief – Our initial thought to a situation (often stems from previous experience)

B – Behaviour – How we react to the situation - can we re-think the situation to have a more positive outcome? (Reframing)

C – Consequence – What affect does our thinking have on the final outcome.

Thoughts, feelings and behaviours are all linked. Thinking influences the way we feel and behave. It is our thinking and not situations that cause our feelings and behaviours. What we think affects how we feel an example of this is doing a presentation:

With negative thinking (mind traps) we can start to create a negative picture of how things will go and this then affects our feelings and behaviours… I hate presenting, I am terrible at it, everyone will look at me, what if I don’t know what I am talking about,  then our feelings kick in, we start to feel anxious, nauseous and feel we are unable to concentrate, our behaviours portray the negative picture our thoughts have allowed us to build, we fumble and rush, forget everything we had to say and get lost in what we are talking about.

How reframing can help

By challenging our initial negative thought and reframing it into a positive (from the here and now rather than a past experience) both our feelings and behaviours will change. Challenge the thought by asking questions:

  • How do I know my negative thought is true?
  • Do I have any evidence?
  • Could I interpret my thought differently?
  • Can I replace my negative words with positive ones to create a new thought?
  • Replace negative words / accentuate positive   

Keep a thought record

  • Date
  • Situation
  • Feelings
  • Automatic thoughts
  • Beliefs associated with thoughts and feelings

Try and separate thoughts and beliefs from feelings

Reframing exercise

  • Notice your thinking and when you are falling into mind traps (thought record)
  • See if you can spot any themes in your thought record – what are your habitual patterns of thought/feeling/behaviour?
  • Challenge this unhelpful thinking
  • Tell these thoughts you are not going to listen to them!
  • Change thinking
  • Over time you can gradually replace unhelpful thoughts with helpful ones

Lastly build on your strength by visiting the Robertson Cooper website and take their i resilience’ questionnaire. http://www.robertsoncooper.com/iresilience/

I hope you have found this fact sheet useful. For further information on resilience training or any of the services offered by Work Well Hub please call us now on: 01202 987916/07954 414222 or email Hello@workwellhub.com

BlogRenee Clarke