Week 2 of our Mental Health Series: The art of resilience

3 mins

We are programmed for survival.While this can be a good thing, sometimes it can mean that we...

We are programmed for survival.

While this can be a good thing, sometimes it can mean that we are putting up barriers. It can mean we struggle to process our emotions or ask for help.

Over time, leaving issues unresolved or our feelings unprocessed can negatively impact our wellbeing, and overflow into all aspects of our personal and professional lives.

Here we explore how to remove these barriers and use the power that we each have to break negative mindsets and build resilience, particularly in the workplace.

What is resilience and why should I build it? 

Resilience is the ability to adapt to the difficult situations that emerge in life. When adversity, stress or trauma strikes, you may still experience emotions of anger, grief and pain but having resilience will enable you to harness inner strength that will help you rebound from the setback or challenge.

However, resilience isn't about putting up with something difficult, being stoic or figuring it out on your own. In fact, being able to reach out to others for support is a key part of being resilient.

The term ‘building resilience’ tends to give the impression of constructing barriers to push away or keep feelings of worry or concern out. However, building resilience means letting those feelings in, but in a way which makes them manageable.

Whilst we cannot stop stressful or adverse events from occurring, we can impact how we learn from them and emerge with the knowledge and tools to succeed next time. Those who practice resilience are not immune from facing periods of stress, adversity or difficulty. But they will be better equipped to handle them. It can also help to offset existing factors that can increase the risk of mental health conditions developing, such as trauma.

So, what does building resilience look like?

Building resilience doesn’t mean fighting these very natural stress responses, disregarding negative feelings, or powering through them. It is about recognising that they are happening and being aware of what may help you to cope.

Many regard building mental health skills, such as resilience, the same way they do building a muscle, it takes practice, time and intention. There are numerous ways to build resilience, but we’ve highlighted a few.

Build strong connections

When we go through tough periods of mental health, it’s easy to isolate and push others away. But by cultivating relationships with people who are understanding and empathetic, you are essentially creating a support network that can help you to feel connected, supported and listened to, all of which are extremely powerful during times of struggle.

Be proactive

Resilience is largely about identifying problems and taking steps to remedy them before they fester into larger issues. It can be very easier to ignore or push past smaller problems, such as stress about deadlines at work, dismissing them as insignificant, but left to build up over time, these once minor problems can snowball to become much bigger and harder to manage.

The reality is many of the workplace stressors that we face day to day won’t be long lasting and can be easily alleviated by flagging them to a manager or colleague, or by putting processes in place to combat them. On their own they are manageable, but often pressures seem to come all at once, or combine with each other, whether that be in your professional or personal life, and suddenly tip over into something much less easy to handle.

Because so many of the challenging things that happen in our lives are out of control, taking ownership and control over the things that you can impact will not only make you feel less overwhelmed, but may also ensure that you are in the best possible mindset when those uncontrolled situations do occur.

Treat your mind like your body

It is very easy to identify the components for achieving good physical health – a healthy diet, exercise, sleep, etc. But when it comes to mental health, this becomes a lot less clear, compounded by the fact that something that is conducive to a healthy mind for one person is different for another. But that doesn’t mean that you shouldn’t put time into identifying what helps you to maintain good mental health.

Nourishing your mind could mean taking time to yourself or filling your time with friends and family. Only you know what will make you feel more or less at ease. Identifying what these are is often the biggest challenge, but one worth investing energy into.

That being said, there is some tried and tested guidance, proven to improve mental and physical health, such as regular exercise, being in nature and sleeping enough, just to name a few.

By looking after your mental and physical health, when stressful circumstances do come along, not only will you feel better prepared to face them head on, but you may already have a toolkit of coping techniques and strategies at your disposal that you can apply, which you already know work for you.

Only we have the power to break our negative mindsets but being able to ask for help is the biggest skill of all. When an atmosphere of mutual support and openness is embraced, workplaces can become a real hub for community and connection, and can provide support to you as an individual, not just an employee.

At Hamilton Barnes, our people are at the centre of everything we do – after all, they are our greatest asset. Our Head of Wellbeing, Rhonda D’Ambrosio, is working hard behind the scenes to make sure that our amazing employees are supported and that their wellbeing is always high on the agenda. You can read about her work here: https://hamilton-barnes.com/blog/meet-our-mental-health-champion-rhonda