We live in a full-on world.
Almost everything nowadays seems to be on the go, available 24/7 365 days of the year!
We experience the competing demands of work and home, sift through constant cascades of information via social and other media and advertising clamouring for our attention to buy, to be, do and have more. Our senses are bombarded with noise in its widest sense. We live in a time of social and political instability and an ever increasing pace of technological change.
Then the lines between work and non work life continue to become ever more blurred as many of us expect instant responses to our communication. It can seem like everywhere we look or go, more is expected for less. Feeling the pressure, we pressure ourselves and increase our levels of anxiety and stress.
It's no surprise that the incidence of mental health conditions is on the rise.
If you keep hitting something hard enough, eventually it breaks. That is, unless good defences have been built, creating a strong core.
This is one of the best antidotes to modern living: a strong core with solid defences against the 24/7 assault on your senses. In other words, building your resilience quotient.
Your resilience quotient is the capacity you have to cope with anxiety, overwhelm, stress and hard times. Just like your IQ (intelligence quotient) or your EQ (emotional intelligence) it can be measure. Some companies have started testing for it in the recruitment process and you can even go online and test yourself.
A low resilience quotient means that you're more likely to experience a more serious illness if you face challenging times. Low resilience levels can also indicate low self-esteem. Your defences can be easily breached and if you sustain too many attacks, you can easily crumble or even shatter.
What does resilience look like?
All of us probably know people we think are resilient (we might call them tough or mentally strong). Perhaps they're people you’ve worked for, friends or someone in your family. Others spring to mind too, like Olympic and Paralympic athletes, people who’ve survived catastrophic events or those who’ve experienced tragedy.
Why is it that some people cope with challenging and tough times while others really struggle?
For those who struggle, it's likely their resilience quotient is low, owing to one or more of the factors below:
Is resilience just the flipside of those things?
To some extent yes, however there’s a little bit more to it than that.
Resilient people have a more optimistic outlook and are able to find something positive in negative circumstances or situations.
Resilient people have low levels of anxiety and believe they can make things happen. They're able to adapt to changing circumstances, they take responsibility and focus on finding solutions.
Interestingly, they are often people who've experienced challenges in early life, parents who've split up, living in poverty or being a young carer. Such early-life challenges can instill determination and persistence. It’s important to note though, that they’ve usually had a strong relationship with a key adult throughout this time too.
Resilient people know change is inevitable and they’re ready for it.
The great thing about resilience is that it can be boosted and learned by changing your thinking and increasing your self-management skills. Like any new approach, at first it might feel like a lot of effort, but with practice, it becomes second nature.
So how do you boost your resilience quotient?
As we experience life, learning and growing from those experiences, most of us become more resilient naturally. However, there are things we can do to help ourselves increase our all round resilience. Check out the 9 positive steps below:
When bad things happen, it’s easy to be reactive, to go on auto pilot, catastrophise and make things seem more awful than they really are. Tune into your thoughts, feelings and behaviours and try to see things from a different perspective. Take stock of the situation - things might seem bad right now, but could there be something positive that can come out of it? Could it be opening another door for you? Can you find meaning and purpose in what’s happened?
If we have a fixed mindset we’re more likely to resist change and this can eat our energy and lower our resilience. If we become more accepting of a situation, we can then choose to act and find a solution or go with the flow. Thus we change our attitude.
This may seem common-sense, yet so many people don’t and somehow expect to stay well. The more we look after ourselves, the more resilient we’ll be. Eating nutritiously, regular rest and quality sleep, spending time outside, moving your body, having other interests, living in the now and being mindful all contribute to intrinsic resilience.
In challenging times, if our resilience levels are low, we can easily find ourselves being overly self-critical. Be gentle with yourself, talk to yourself as you would a friend. Reflect on how you got through a challenging time in the past to reinforce your confidence and belief that you can cope. View mistakes with understanding. This will help you to come up with coping strategies and solutions.
The bigger the issue, the more likely we’re to feel overwhelmed. By breaking the problem down into small chunks and dealing with them one by one, we make it easier to tackle. It also results in feelings of accomplishment as we successfully move through and tackle each part.
Resilience is not about false positivity, which often just denies or ignores what is actually happening. However, when times are tough it can be too easy to just focus on everything that’s going wrong. Taking a more positive and optimistic perspective and looking at what’s going right too is far more likely to lead to finding solutions and arriving at a positive outcome. When you’re able to see opportunities for growth in whatever is happening, life becomes more easy to navigate. When you come out the other end, acknowledge and celebrate your capability and success as this will further boost your resilience levels.
Low resilience in difficult times can result in an inability or unwillingnes to make decisions. Hello procrastination! As our confidence and self-belief dissipates we become paralysed. Making a decision and then taking action is always a positive step forward. The more decisions we make, the more control we have and feel and the more our resilience levels go up.
Constantly thinking about challenges increases our negative stress levels (and our circulating cortisol levels). It’s much better to focus on something else to disrupt the negative thought pattern. Go for a walk, exercise, meditate, sing or do something else creative to take your mind off things.
It’s completely natural to feel insecure and afraid during times of change or trouble. Whatever is happening is taking us out of our comfort zone, into unknown territory, which makes us feel uncertain. Nevertheless, facing up to fears allows us to learn and grow. Funnily enough once we’ve faced them, they don’t seem so big either!
When your mind wanders to worry and anxiety rises, bring it back to the present moment and try to focus on the here and now. When you do think about the future, think about it the way you want it, as opposed to what you don’t want to happen. Focus on having successfully navigated whatever your current challenge is, imagine what you’ll see, hear and feel.
NLP can really help build resilience. It increases flexibility in thinking and expands our world view resulting in greater confidence and self belief in the ability to achieve goals and personal success. NLP builds emotional agility and emotional congruence and enables us to discover and reach our full potential with greater ease. If you'd like to know more, please get touch.
(picture - Kim Thomas, Pixabay)