Creating resilient foundations to ride the waves of change

Whenever I talk about resilience, I think of the metaphor of waves, how they symbolise change and how we respond and adapt to it.  Like change, waves never completely stop…they are always there in some form, constantly evolving.

Also like change, no two waves are exactly alike. They may look similar, but each one has its own unique properties.

Sometimes gently lapping and other times buffeting you against the shoreline.

Sometimes we can see them building out in the ocean and sometimes they come out of nowhere like a tsunami and knock us off our feet without warning.

Sometimes there is a long gap between when the waves hit us and sometimes, they just keep on coming before we have a chance to stand back up in the water.

But like change, waves all have patterns – they form, roll, peak and break. When we think about surfers and how they successfully manage to ride a wave and stay standing, it’s all about understanding those patterns and learning how to go with the wave, rather than trying to fight against it.

As we start the process of coming out of lockdown number 3, we are going to need our resilience more than ever, facing a new wave of change in our personal and professional worlds.  But like with surfers, we all have a different base level of resilience or ability to ride the wave based on our individual experiences and upbringing.  However, as resilient as we may be, there will always be times where it is challenged.  Even the finest professional surfers have times when they have let positive habits slip and struggle to ride the wave.  That is when you need to get out your toolkit and refresh yourself on how to re-build your resilience and action your coping strategies before the next wave hits and you potentially wipeout.

We are experts in supporting individuals and their teams in developing their resilience to improve productivity, communication, confidence, engagement and relationships. Here are some key strategies that support people to build and maintain their resilient foundations:

Help them understand where they are now and their individual patterns

We know that people like to understand where they are ‘at’ with their resilience, so we use a range of diagnostic tools to help them recognise what they are doing that is helping them with their resilience and what habits, behaviours and environmental factors might be hindering them.

We all have a level of resilience, or what MHFA (Mental Health First Aid England) call a ‘stress container.’ This represents the amount of stress we can cope with based on our life experiences to date.  This is individual and it helps us to understand that others may not cope with life’s stresses in the same way we do and therefore may react to change differently.  The stress container has a release valve, where helpful coping strategies can empty the container and allow the person to deal with additional stresses when waves of change come along.  Or if unhelpful strategies are in place, then the valve can get blocked, leaving the stress container to overspill, and developing problems which can quickly lead to more severe and long term mental health issues.

But people don’t know what they don’t know and often unknowingly use strategies, thinking they are helping when they may actually be causing more harm in the longer term.  So, its important to look at different strategies and tools to help people build and maintain their resilience.

Identify helpful coping strategies that will work for them

When assessing and supporting people with their resilience and helping them to promote their wellbeing, it is important to look at 4 key areas:

  1. Psychological
  • Managing their mindset – Reframing their thoughts into a positive narrative and creating more positive thinking habits.
  • Knowing their strengths and how to use them to support their resilience.
  • Focus their energy on what they can control, influence and what will help them move forward.
  1. Productivity
  • Resilience is all about moving forward, but it is important to know what you are moving towards. Therefore, it is important to set goals and revisit them regularly.
  • Learning how to overcome challenges – Developing a ‘growth’ mindset where challenges are a learning opportunity because, as we know, a lot of resilience is built through overcoming adversity or difficulties.
  • Being organised and having some structure is important in managing your mental health and remaining productive, therefore moving forward.
  1. Physiology
  • Feeding our body with the right things – It may feel like alcohol is a pleasant stress reliever, but it can also have negative impacts on our ability to sleep and recharge.
  • Adjusting our life rhythm to support our stress container – We need to balance our cognitive load so that we can remain resourceful and cope with additional stresses. Sometimes we need to adjust our pace and step away from some activities for a while to create some space.
  • Keeping active and regularly exercising has significant benefits to our physical and mental health.
  1. Recovery
  • Develop a set of individual self-care strategies – What works for one person will not necessarily work for the next, so it’s vital to create a list of what works for you. When we are in a less resourceful state, we only then need to go to one place for help – our list!
  • Having an adequate level of rest and relaxation means we can cope with change and challenges more easily. It may feel like it is relaxing to binge watch the latest box set, but if that means we are eating into our critical sleep time, then we may need to make a different choice in order to maintain our balance.
  • Doing stuff you love is one of the best ways to properly re-energise – That could be learning a new hobby, revisiting an activity you used to do when you were a child, or being outside in nature reconnecting with the earth.

We all have our own individual recipe for resilience that helps us emerge from difficulties wiser, stronger and more able.  If you want to support your people to find theirs and successfully ride the waves of change, contact Connor on 01491 414010 or get in touch using the form below.

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