Smart, Savvy Ways to Build Resilience

by | October 18, 2019 | Leadership, Positive & Possible

You start your day with a well-planned agenda. You’ve scheduled meetings, time to work on a project, and to walk at lunch with a friend. You’ve set aside time to respond to emails and address issues that arise. You need to leave by 4:30 p.m. to get your son to his soccer game.

Then you get disrupted …

  • A disgruntled employee threatened a co-worker.
  • A distressed staff member walked into your office in tears because of a devastating personal situation.
  • A disenfranchised worker filed an EEO suit against the organization claiming harassment.
  • A disillusioned employee disputed her performance evaluation in a disparaging email.
  • A disorganized supervisor demanded a report immediately.
  • Your distraught child called to tell you he left his science project at home.

All kinds of things disrupt our plans, every day.

Various studies show that job stress is by far the major source of stress for American adults. According to The American Institute of Stress, increased levels of job stress caused by the perception of having little control but lots of demands have proven to be associated with higher risk of heart disease, depression, high blood pressure, a weakened immune system, stomach issues, and more.

Add to it, the stress of family and finances in the American home; the increase in violence; the divisive political climate; and wars all over the world. We're living in times of extreme uncertainty and chaos. We're more anxious, depressed, and scared than ever.

Our current work culture reflects the increasing complexity and demands faced by businesses globally. We often find ourselves in a chaotic, frenzied work environment. This is not healthy for the employee, the team, or the organization. While we can't control other people’s reaction to stress, we can control your own responses.

When disorder wreaks havoc with your day, do you tend to bounce back or fall apart?

Resilient leaders harness their inner strength and rebound from setbacks or challenges. Because they’ve struggled through trials and errors, they’ve found courage and confidence, and grown stronger. Since the past is a great teacher, they’ve learned to see beyond their present problems to future possibilities, better handle stress, and find greater fulfillment and happiness in life.

Resilience won't make your problems go away — things are likely to continue being uncertain, unclear and chaotic but it will give you the ability to more easily roll with the punches. When stress, adversity or trauma strikes, you may still experience anger, grief and pain, but you'll be able to keep functioning — both physically and psychologically.

Here a few Smart & Savvy Ways to Build Resilience and grow stronger mentally so that you can more easily bounce back when your day is disrupted.

BE GRATEFUL – There is something to be thankful for in every minute of every day.  Do you have a roof over your head and a pillow on which to lay your head? 150 million people aren’t as fortunate. Did you eat a meal today? 815 million people regularly go to bed hungry. Did you arrive safely to your destination? Approximately 40,000 people die in automobile accidents every year in the U.S.

Keep a gratitude journal. When you make a list of everything great in your life, your one problem may not seem so terrible. A good practice is to mentally make your gratitude list every night before going to sleep. Smart, savvy and strong people recognize and are amazed at all the goodness around them.

DISCONNECT – Almost everything will work again if you unplug it for a few minutes, including you.

What’s the first thing you do when you wake up in the morning? If you’re like me and most of the population, you reach for your phone that is conveniently sitting right next to you on your nightstand or under your pillow. Before beginning our day, we tend to see what the world is doing.

While technology has its many benefits, overuse may increase your risk for brain fog, mental illness, and sleep deprivation.

On social media, we scroll through pages of vacation photos, engagements, parties etc. and before we know it, we’re discontent with our own lives. Smart, savvy people are stronger because they unplug allowing time to recharge, refocus and reflect on what they have.

STOP ASKING, “WHAT IF” – Avoid torturing yourself with the “what if’s”.

What if I fail? What if you succeed?

What if I apply for the promotion and don’t get it? What if you do get it?

What if they laugh at my idea? What if your idea changes the world?

What if I make a mistake? What if you learn something from it?

What if they don’t like me? What if they love you?

What is your, “What if …?”

At the end of the day, you don’t know and won’t ever know, what could’ve happened. Asking, “What if” only drains your energy, robs your potential, and increases your stress. Smart and savvy people stop asking, “What if” and trust that each situation has the potential to make them stronger even if …

STAY POSITIVE – Positive thinking doesn't mean that you keep your head in the sand and ignore life's difficult moments. Positive thinking means that you approach challenges in a more positive and productive way. You think the best is going to happen, not the worst.

Smart, savvy and strong people silence the naysayers. Resilient people turn off the negative news and turn away from toxic relationships. They surround themselves with positive people who help them see possibilities when all they can see are problems. Just because someone thinks it’s impossible, doesn’t mean it is. Afterall, impossible spells:  I-M-possible.

SQUASH THE NEGATIVE SELF-TALK – Positive thinking often starts with self-talk. Self-talk is the endless stream of unspoken thoughts that run through your head. These automatic thoughts can be positive or negative. Some of your self-talk comes from logic and reason. Other self-talk may arise from misconceptions that we create because of lack of information.

90% of what women tell themselves about themselves is NEGATIVE.

I could never do that.

This makes me look soooo fat.

Oh, this old thing? I got it on sale.

Oh, it was nothing.

Smart and savvy people grow stronger when they silence their inner critic. To build resilience, practice positive self-talk every day — in the car, at your desk, before you go to bed or whenever you notice negative thoughts. How would you turn the above common negative statements into positive ones?

REFRAME YOUR PERSPECTIVE – Before you react, pause and count to ten. Ask yourself:

Is this thought valid or true?

Am I overreacting or exaggerating?

Is there another way to look at it?

To see possibilities where others only see problems, try using this simple acrostic for PIN:

Think of something POSITIVE to say about the idea or situation.

Think of something INTERESTING to say about the idea or situation.

Say something NEGATIVE only if necessary, and beneficial; along with a suggestion for improvement.

Smart, savvy and strong leaders don’t jump to quick conclusions or formulate faulty opinions. Resilient people look at the world in new ways and learn to tame their often-inaccurate trigger thoughts.

The time to build resilience is NOW, before the pressure mounts. What two things will you focus on to build resilience so that when your day is disrupted you’ll more easily bounce back?