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Bounce Back from Stress by Building Resiliency

mental health self-care May 09, 2024
Bounce Back from Stress by Building Resiliency


In life, we all encounter challenges, setbacks, and unexpected twists. Whether it's a personal loss, a professional disappointment, or a global crisis, our ability to navigate these obstacles with resilience can make all the difference in how we emerge on the other side. Resiliency is the ability to recover and adapt to life difficulties and cope when challenging situations arise. If an individual does not have high resiliency, unpredictable life situations may be overwhelming and can negatively impact mental health and overall well-being. Resilience isn't just about bouncing back from adversity; it's about growing stronger and thriving despite the many stressors we face.


Why Resiliency is Important

Resilience acts as a protective factor against the negative effects of stress. Resilient individuals are not immune to stress, but they have developed coping mechanisms and strategies to deal with it constructively. Resilient people:

  • See Challenges Versus Obstacles: They view challenges as opportunities for growth and learning, rather than insurmountable obstacles.
  • Commit to Goals: They maintain a sense of purpose and determination and can persevere through obstacles and setbacks to achieve their goals.
  • Focus on What They Can Control: Focusing their energy on aspects of their life they can control is a proactive way to take meaningful actions and maintain positive mental health.
  • Don't Blame Others or Themselves: They take ownership of their circumstances and show compassion and understanding towards themselves and others.
  • Are Empathetic: They are attuned to the emotions and experiences of others, fostering meaningful connections and supportive relationships.
  • Better Able to Engage in Balanced Thinking: They are able to see other perspectives, acknowledging the reality of stressful situations while also recognizing the positives in their lives. They practice gratitude and maintain optimism, even in challenging times.


How to Build Resilience

We all have an inherent resilience that can differ from person to person; however, research has shown that resilience is also a skill that can be cultivated and strengthened over time. Adapted resilience is when we involuntarily face stressful situations that force us to tap into our skills to navigate and overcome those challenges. Each time we overcome a challenge or setback, we become more resilient as we learn and grow from the experience. We can also actively build up our resilience over time by purposely learning stress management strategies and adding new, healthy habits into our routine. When we have the skills to reframe stressful situations as opportunities for personal growth, we can bounce back faster from life’s challenges.


Strengthen Your Resiliency Muscles

There are five resiliency muscles that you can strengthen to help you manage stress and crisis.

  • Physical Resiliency – This looks like taking care of your body to allow it to manage your fight or flight response. It includes things like proper exercise, diet, sleep, and going for doctor check ups.
  • Social Resiliency – This resiliency looks at your relationships and your social circle that can give support in hard times. It includes keeping connected, laughing, and communicating with your friends, family, and work team.
  • Thinking Resiliency – This resiliency is about using your creative thoughts and imagination to problem solve. It may include setting boundaries, problem solving with your team, and challenging negative thinking patterns.
  • Emotional Resiliency – This resiliency is about talking out problems to help us understand our emotions. It may include attending appointments with your mental health specialist, accessing support through an Employee Assistance Program, or speaking with your clergy or faith-based leader.
  • Spiritual Resiliency – This can look like improving your mindfulness and gratefulness or discovering a sense of purpose. It may include meditation practice, yoga, or prayer.


Developing a Resilience Plan

There are many strategies to manage stress – understanding what your individual stressors are and finding self-care strategies that work for you is an important step in the process. Once you decide on your resiliency activities, it is time to create a resiliency plan.

Resiliency is not about looking at everything with rose-coloured glasses. Optimism is important, but realistic expectations are necessary to bounce back from challenges. Things do not always go as planned, so make sure your plan is flexible.

  • Start small – Making small goals and small steps will lead to lasting changes. Maybe it is a simple mindful walk in the morning or starting a gratitude journal. 
  • Cover your resiliency bases – Look at all areas of resiliency (physical, social, thinking, emotional, and spiritual) to see what could be strengthened.
  • Be creative – If the gym isn’t available, can you do your workout in the park? Can you find a good trainer or a regular exercise program? Look at different options to avoid roadblocks.
  • Be consistent – Take the small step and do it daily. Habits are best built if you can incorporate the task into something you already do in your routine. If you take the dog for a walk daily, walk for longer, build in some meditation time, or change up the location to include more nature.
  • Find a buddy – If you are engaging in a new activity, it is helpful to have support. Find someone who might hold you accountable or do the activity with you.
  • Schedule it – Put time for self-care in your work schedule to ensure it doesn’t get forgotten. Plan meditation breaks, appointments with your social team, or lunch with a friend in the park.
  • Honour your self-care time – Self-care is not selfish, so treat your self-care appointment as a permanent appointment that cannot be missed. 
  • Engage your family – If you have a spouse and/or children in your household, plan some self-care time with them and without them. 


How Can Gowan Consulting Help?

  • Make a referral to an Occupational Therapist to support employees who are dealing with mental health challenges. OTs can help employees develop a personal stress management toolkit to help them navigate work and life more effectively.
  • Empower your team to manage stressful situations with workplace training from an Occupational Therapist. Consider sessions for employees on stress management, mental health, and resiliency. Train managers on how to support employees by enrolling them in Manager Mental Health Training. To learn more about customized training for your organization, contact us.
  • Provide Success Coaching for employees and managers to individually change their mindsets and manage their stress in the workplace.