Resilience, our ability to ‘bounce back’ from adversity. This topic is at the forefront at the moment given the times. People are feeling the unsurmountable pressure to carry on with their ‘normal’ lives in very ‘unnatural’ ways. So, we thought we would pop a few ideas together to support the growth of resilience. But lets also remember, it’s understandable to be experiencing low mood, low motivation and general life fatigue at the moment.
Did you have lots of ‘tools’ in your resilience toolbox prior to lockdown? This is the experience of many people, similarly, people had just started to improve their health and wellbeing with extra activities, exercise classes and increasing social connections and now it has all stopped. Whilst many of the online alternatives don’t feel the same, there are things we can do in and out of lockdown to enhance our wellbeing. We will be sharing resources and exercises throughout the rest of the month to support you.
Mindfulness is the practice of bringing our awareness to what we are experiencing in the present, both internally and externally, without judgment (Kornfield, 2009).
It has been linked to resilience as being mindful aims to broaden and build inner resources strengthening ‘bounce back ability’ (Fredrickson, 2001).
Research has suggested that working on becoming more mindful breeds resilience, Bajaj and Pande (2016) conducted a study which found that people with higher levels of mindfulness had greater resilience and therefore increased their life satisfaction. This research supported the use of mindfulness training as a way to build resilience and enhance personality characteristics such as optimism and patience. Something we may all need a bit more of at the moment!
There has been a move towards mindfulness-based resilience training in workplaces as it has been found that using mindfulness at work can increase psychological flexibility within a workplace setting (Joyce et al, 2018). Research suggests that training such as this, which cultivates resilience through mindfulness exercises, may assist in preventing psychological distress and burnout in the workplace (Harker, 2016)
Self-compassion is the ability to treat yourself with the same care and kindness as you would a good friend. (Lilley, 2019). Self-compassion is especially important within the workplace, a place where performance and targets are at the forefront. ‘Being kinder to yourself’ has been linked to developing emotional resilience, with research showing that people who score high on self-compassion; cope better with adversities, take more personal initiative and responsibility, are less fearful of making mistakes, a more emotionally intelligent as well as take better care of themselves physically and emotionally. (Buth, Mullarkey and Lathren, 2018).
Mindset Change / Cognitive Restructuring
A mindset is defined as a core belief system that filters our perceptions of what is true and acts as an inner compass to shape our choices of response to those perceptions (Dweck, 2006). The type of mindset that is adopted by an individual can affect how individuals react to challenges and their resilience in life. Dweck (2006) states that moving from a fixed mindset to a growth mind set allows individuals to view challenges as a learning opportunity, a growth opportunity and unsurprisingly leads to individuals feeling more resilient.
“Changing your mindset is not the only way to cultivate resilience and well-being. But it comes as close to guaranteed as anything I’ve ever come across”.
Research has suggested that a growth mindset can be promoted / developed to create more resilience. Encouraging a growth mindset in students leads them to being more likely to achieve their goals whilst also increasing their resilience to challenges (Yeager and Dweck, 2012).
Cognitive restructuring was developed by Ellis in the mid-50s and is a way to challenge unhappy and disturbing automatic beliefs to reframe them in a more positive light. Cognitive restructuring is often used as part of Cognitive Behaviour Therapy, as it works to build resilience by creating a change in the way individuals view negative situations. Other therapies such as wellbeing therapy have used cognitive restructuring in the aim to increase resilience. (Fava and Tomba, 2009).
Resilience Enhancing Imagery is a cognitive-imaginal technique which aims to help tackle situations that lower resilience and increase stress (Palmer, 2013). This technique involves picturing resilient outcomes to challenges, encouraging them to associate the resilient coping methods with their current problems. This technique increases the resilience of individuals who are overwhelmed by a series of events.
Guided Imagery is another form of relaxation technique that involves bringing your body into a more relaxed state to build resilience over time (Smith, 1990). Guided imagery involves using positive thoughts and images to replace thoughts of anxiety and anger in difficult situations, this is a way to stimulate the brain and create a calm and peaceful physical state. Guided imagery has found to be effective in increasing resilience as well as improving how individuals deal with stress (Jenkins, 2012).
Flexible thinking is the ability to see things from different perspectives and find alternative approaches to the challenges that people face. Flexible thinking has been linked to resilience as it has been seen as an important aspect in individuals becoming ‘unstuck’ and effectively dealing with challenges, especially within the workplace (WRAW, 2019).
Metzl (2009) found that flexible and creative thinking was a significant predictor in life satisfaction, higher levels of resilience and higher levels of wellbeing. The study suggested that flexible thinking plays a crucial role of increasing resilience after stressful life events. Further research has suggested that by adopting more flexible thinking within the workplace, it can increase your resilience and can begin to shape work outcomes (McEwen, 2011).
Being clear on your values
Individuals use their personal values as a way to look at situations and form thoughts of what that means for the individual. Le Fevre (2017) found that by understanding your most important values it can buffer psychological stress, stating that being aware of your values stops the brain producing overwhelming amounts of cortisol therefore allowing you to think clearly. McEwan (2011) suggests that by embracing our values we are able to think clearly which is an important part of resilience as it gives us the capacity to manage situations.
Creswell et al (2005) conducted a study which found that individuals who were clear about their values made better decisions. They also had reduced being a stress levels.
Acceptance and commitment therapy use values as tools to help individuals live their lives in accordance to the values which are most important to them. This focus on values has found that acceptance and commitment therapy can contribute to building greater resilience, improve optimism and lower depression scores.
We will be sharing our resources surrounding these evidenced based approaches throughout July and we hope they can support you and workplaces’ wellbeing during this time.
Amy & Samantha