While there are some individuals and organisations that seem to be “naturally” resilient; in truth, this is a quality that can be learned. Resilient leaders deal effectively with pressure; maintain focus and energy and remain optimistic and persistent, even under adversity and recover quickly from setbacks.
Resilient individuals are able to problem solve with a calm, confident sense of being able to overcome adversity. Resilient entrepreneurs maintain a focus on the things that matter when the going gets tough; whether organisational change, meeting tight deadlines or pressure to perform.
Interestingly enough, during these times it is noted that these individuals also pay attention to their values, maintain and honour a life balance and work to ensure sure that there is congruence between what they believe and how that is reflected in behaviour.
Here are 10 ways, recommended by the American Psychological Association for building resilience:
Make connections. Good relationships with family, friends, and co-workers offer a reservoir of strength that is a powerful ally in the effort to build resilience. Organisations that develop good connections within the business community are in a much better position to respond to difficult times.
Avoid seeing crises as insurmountable problems. Crises will occur even to individuals and organisations that are strong and healthy. When they happen it is useful to be able to look at the longer view, to see a time when things can be better again, or to note the subtle ways you are already dealing with the situation.
Accept that change is a part of living. Some goals may no longer be attainable as a result of adverse situations. Accepting what cannot be changed can be helpful as you focus on what can be changed.
Move toward your goals. If you do not have realistic goals, invest the time to set them. Do something regularly (daily or at least weekly) that is a small step toward those goals. Recognise your progress as you move forward.
Take decisive actions. Act on the adverse situations as much as you can rather than spending your time wishing or hoping that they will go away.
Look for opportunities for self-discovery. People and organisations often learn something about themselves during these times of stress. It can be an opportunity to find strengths you never knew you had.
Nurture a positive view of yourself. Develop confidence in your ability to solve problems and trust your instinct to become more resilient.
Keep things in perspective. Consider the traumatic event in a broader context and remember to look for those aspects of life that give it meaning and purpose.
Maintain a hopeful outlook. Optimism and the willingness to persevere are more important to success that IQ.
Take care of yourself. Pay attention to your own needs and feelings. Do some things that you really enjoy or find relaxing. Continue to exercise and eat well.
Adapted from The Road to Resilience developed by the American Psychological Association
By AMERICAN PSYCHOLOGICAL ASSOCIATION
Stress is a part of our lives and there’s no getting around it. But as much as we all live with it, many of us misunderstand some of the basics about stress and its role in our lives. Why does this matter? Stress has been indicted in many research studies in exacerbating very real physical illnesses — everything from heart disease to Alzheimer’s disease. Reducing stress can not only help you feel better, but also live a longer, disease-free life.
Let’s look at some of the common myths surrounding stress.
Myth 1: Stress is the same for everybody.
Stress is not the same for everybody, nor does everyone experience stress in the same way. Stress is different for each and every one of us. What is stressful for one person may or may not be stressful for another; each of us responds to stress in an entirely different way.
For instance, some people may get stressed out paying the monthly bills every month, while for others such a task isn’t stressful at all. Some get stressed out by high pressure at work, while others may thrive on it.
Myth 2: Stress is always bad for you.
According to this view, zero stress makes us happy and healthy. But this is wrong — stress is to the human condition what tension is to the violin string: too little and the music is dull and raspy; too much and the music is shrill or the string snaps.
Stress in and of itself is not bad (especially in small amounts). So while stress can be the kiss of death or the spice of life, the key is to understand how best to manage it. Managing stress makes us productive and happy, while mismanaging it may hurt us and cause us to fail or become even more stressed.
Myth 3: Stress is everywhere, so you can’t do anything about it.
So is the possibility of getting into an automobile accident every time we get into our cars, but we don’t allow that to stop us from driving.
You can plan your life so that stress does not overwhelm you. Effective planning involves setting priorities and working on simple problems first, solving them, and then going on to more complex difficulties.
When stress is mismanaged, it’s difficult to prioritise. All your problems seem to be equal and stress seems to be everywhere.
Myth 4: The most popular techniques for reducing stress are the best ones.
No universally effective stress reduction techniques exist (although many magazine articles and pop psychology articles claim to know them!).
We are all different — our lives are different, our situations are different, and our reactions are different. A comprehensive stress management program tailored to the individual works best. But self-help books that can teach you many of the successful stress management techniques can also be of great help, as long as you stick to the program and practice the techniques daily.
Myth 5: No symptoms, no stress.
An absence of symptoms does not mean the absence of stress. In fact, camouflaging symptoms with medication may deprive you of the signals you need for reducing the strain on your physiological and psychological systems.
Many of us experience symptoms of stress in a very physical way, even though stress is a psychological effect. Feeling anxious, shortness of breath, or simply feeling run down all the time can all be physical signs of stress. Feeling overwhelmed, disorganised and having difficulty concentrating are common mental signs of stress.
Myth 6: Only major symptoms of stress require attention.
This myth assumes that the “minor” symptoms, such as headaches or stomach acid, may be safely ignored. Minor symptoms of stress are the early warnings that your life is getting out of hand and that you need to do a better job of managing stress.
If you wait until you start feeling the “major” symptoms of stress (such as a heart attack), it may be too late. Those early warning signs are best listened to earlier rather than later. A change in lifestyle (such as exercising more) to deal with those early warning signs will be far less costly (in time and economics) than dealing with the effects of not listening to them.
- Changes in emotion, sense of humour, prone to tearfulness.
- Watching endless hours of TV
- Withdrawing from friends or partners or, conversely jumping into a frenzied social life to avoid facing problems
- Overeating or weight gain
- Under eating or weight loss
- Sleeping too much
- Not sleeping enough
- Drinking too much alcohol
- Lashing out at others in emotionally or physically violent outbursts
- Taking up smoking or smoking more than usual
- Taking prescription or over-the-counter drugs that promise some form or relief, such as sleeping pills, muscle relaxants, or anti-anxiety pills
- Taking illegal or unsafe drugs
- ALL-OR-NOTHING THINKING: You see things in black and white categories. If your performance falls short of perfect, you see yourself as a total failure.
- OVERGENERALISATION: You see a single negative event as a never-ending pattern of defeat.
- MENTAL FILTER: You pick out a single negative detail and dwell on it exclusively so that your vision of all reality becomes darkened, like the drop of ink that discolours the entire beaker of water.
- DISQUALIFYING THE POSITIVE: You reject positive experiences by insisting they “don’t count” for some reason or other. In this way you can maintain a negative belief that is contradicted by your everyday experiences.
- JUMPING TO CONCLUSIONS: You make a negative interpretation even though there are no definite facts that convincingly support your conclusions.
- MIND READING: You arbitrarily conclude that someone is reacting negatively to you, and you don’t bother to check this out.
- THE FORTUNE TELLER ERROR: You anticipate that things will turn out badly, and you feel convinced that your prediction is an already established fact.
- MAGNIFICATION (CATASTROPHISING) OR MINIMISATION: You exaggerate the importance of things (such as your goof-up or someone else’s achievement). Or you inappropriately shrink things until they appear tiny (your own desirable qualities or the other fellow’s imperfections). This is also called the “binocular trick.”
- EMOTIONAL REASONING: You assume that your negative emotions necessarily reflect the way things really are: "I feel it, therefore it must be true."
- SHOULD STATEMENTS: You try to motivate yourself with shoulds and should nots, as if you had to be whipped and punished before you could be expected to do anything. “Musts” and “oughts” are also offenders. The emotional consequence is guilt. When you direct should statements toward others, you feel anger, frustration, and resentment.
- LABELLING AND MISLABELING: This is an extreme form of over-generalisation. Instead of describing your error, you attach a negative label to yourself: “I’m a loser.” When someone else’s behaviour rubs you the wrong way, you attach a negative label to him: “He’s a damn louse.” Mislabeling involves describing an event with language that is highly coloured and emotionally loaded.
- PERSONALISATION: You see yourself as the cause of some negative event which in fact you were not primarily responsible for.
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