Research commissioned by the UK-based mental health charity Mind, has found that work is the most stressful factor in people’s lives with one in three people (34 per cent) saying their work life was either very, or quite stressful. Considering this fact, it is clearly vital that we learn how to deal with work-based stress, how to become more resilient to everyday pressures and remain focussed, optimistic and mindful so that we can manage the stresses of today’s fast-paced workplace.
Resilience is a trait that can be nurtured and encouraged. It is cultivated by behaviour, attitude and support, so while we may perceive those individuals who are capable of ‘bouncing back’ from any situation, it is likely they have learned and evolved to become this way.
These individuals often share certain characteristics, they are generally;
• Emotionally Intelligent
These traits, and the behaviours linked to them, are skills which anyone can learn and develop over time and with effective training.
The following tips form a solid foundation from which we can build our own resilience and develop methods for maintaining a healthy stress level.
1. Be Mindful
Being mindful means having the ability to be fully present and engaged in the moment. Free from hasty judgements, concentration lapses, or innate reactions, we are aware of our thoughts and feelings yet stay slightly removed from them, thus enabling a positive mental space for processing and consideration.
Simple mindfulness practises such as, taking a couple of minutes to monitor our thoughts, attending meditation or yoga class, noticing the world around us, or engaging in conscious conversations can be a great start to becoming more mindful.
At Creative Word, we believe that mindfulness practices are a vital part of each day and many of our leadership courses teach methods for improving and encouraging mindfulness both in the individual and as part of a team.
2. Learn to Compartmentalize
Our brains are believed to process more than 11 million bits of information per second received from our senses and the environment, yet our conscious brain can only process around 50 bits of information per second.
In order to not become overwhelmed by this much information, our brains compartmentalize so that we can manage it effectively.
By applying this process to our work, we can give ourselves manageable sized tasks which makes everything seem less overwhelming.
Try compartmentalizing emails, meetings, calls, and even breaks, to specific times of the day. This way, we avoid wasting time switching from task to task, and unwelcome distractions, which allows us to be more productive.
Initially this may feel a little forced and over-regimented but once the habit is established it helps to save time, avoids procrastination, and aids concentration by creating the right conditions for us to effectively process small amounts of information without overwhelming ourselves.
3. Take a Break
Our bodies and minds naturally peak and trough throughout each day and while some of us are more productive in the morning, others find they perform best in the afternoon or evening.
Knowing when we’re naturally at our best allows us to schedule tasks at specific times (see number 2 for more on this) and also tells us when we need to take a break.
Psychologists call these natural variations our ‘ultradian rhythms’ and they typically last for between 90 and 120 minutes, so the aim is to work during the peak when our mental focus is strong and rest during the troughs to regain and direct our energy.
Balancing a work activity with a brisk stroll to the coffee machine or walk around the office every now and then gives our minds and bodies a much-deserved break and can improve clarity, creativity and productivity.
4. Become Emotionally Intelligent
Emotional intelligence is the ability to understand and regulate our own emotions, and those of the people around us.
People who are highly emotionally intelligent rarely lose their cool, cope well in stressful situations, communicate their thoughts and feelings with ease, listen openly to other’s perspectives, work well in multicultultural environments and can often resolve conflict effortlessly.
In order to improve emotional intelligence, it is necessary to be mindful (see number 1) and aware of our thoughts and feelings so that we can regulate our response to others.
It is worth practising being calm in stressful situations (count to ten or do some deep breathing) while consciously monitoring our reactions to those around us and assessing the outcome. If we have been successful at controlling our mood, we should come out of the situation with a positive feeling and a greater understanding of how we can affect situations depending upon our ability to maintain control of our thoughts and emotions.
5. Think Fast
The ability to think fast, overcoming complexity, examining problems judiciously, and thinking creatively is determined by an individual’s mental agility.
Those who are able to ‘press pause’ on their stresses, observe objectively, and remain neutral can effectively respond to a stressful situation rather than react to one.
By understanding and labelling our thoughts, emotions and stresses we can control the emotional centre of our brain, giving us the ability to move beyond the stress and view the situation for what it is – a situation.
Agile thinking encourages resilience as it inspires flexibility of thought and response. It is possible to rewire our brains to so that we can mentally ‘step back’ from stresses, relieving the pressure we place on ourselves and giving us the ability to effectively find a solution.
Resilience is vital in the workplace – our increasingly stressful world requires effective coping strategies and a positive state of mind in order to be successful in business. Weighed down by stress we fail to perform at our best, risk our mental health and can become resentful of our job.
Training your employees and teams to build resilience makes good business sense and will ensure a supportive, constructive company culture.
You can find out more about how the Creative Word Training team can help you build a resilient workforce by contacting us here.