Stress is part of life and no one is exempted from it. In one of my group coaching sessions for young and upcoming entrepreneurs, there was an interaction session where the young entrepreneurs were tasked with making presentations after which they would answer questions on what they presented. There was one of them that I noticed at the back who was on edge, and felt stressed as she waited her turn.
However, when the stress could no longer be contained, she burst into tears. This emotional outburst adversely affected both her presentation and the judgment from the adjudicators. When it comes to the workplace, workers who lack emotional resilience skills and habits to help support them especially during their stressed times exhibit a decline in their productivity just as it happened to this young entrepreneur.
The workplace has become infinitely more complex over the last few years. Mounting expectations have been fueled by technological innovations, 24/7 work schedules for some and an ever-increasing barrage of information.
The changing workplace bombards us with endless distractions from emails, texts, various other messaging programs, conference calls, viral videos and breaking news stories which continually enter our space at an alarming rate.
The battle for our attention escalates daily which can easily raise the level of stress. (Stresstostrength). Davis Laak also underscores, “Modern workplaces are certainly typified by stress. Technology and access to the Internet mean that, for many, work is a constant presence.
No longer does one establish a career which they then stay in for the duration of their working life. Resilient employees are able to manage stress effectively so it is not overwhelming and detrimental” (Davis Laak, 2014).
Well, resilience is an active, dynamic process. According to the Centre for Confidence and Wellbeing (2006): ‘the good news is that although some people seem to be born with more resilience than others, those whose resilience is lower can learn how to boost their ability to cope, thrive and flourish when the going gets tough’.
So, resilience can be enhanced! The personality trait of hardiness has been found to buffer or lessen the negative effects of stressful events or adversity (Jackson, Frito, & Edenborough, 2007). It is possible to learn habits and strategies to increase hardiness. Furthermore, by developing effective strategies for reducing vulnerability to stress and the impact of adversity, it is possible to strengthen and develop personal resilience.
Emotional resilience is the capacity to adjust to change, disruption, or difficulty while maintaining good functional capacities. Employees who have high emotional resilience are those who, when presented with stress (either work related or personal) can bounce back, bend without breaking, and cope without giving in, giving up, or breaking down. Emotional resilience is a skill that can be taught and learned, but to be effective, these skills need to be practiced and incorporated into a healthy lifestyle and a healthy work style – journals.lww.com.
Rather than looking for help outside, or blaming the world for our miseries, self-awareness gives us the courage to look for answers within ourselves. By making us more attuned to our inner world, building self-awareness helps us in becoming more capable and cognizant.
Alice Boyes (2014), in one of her publications in Psychology Today, mentioned that flexible thinking is an essential aspect of mental health that contributes toward the personal and professional success of any human being.
It is a powerful social skill that incorporates optimism, adjustability, rationality, and positive thinking. A person who has or has developed these skills through training or experience will definitely be more emotionally resilient and well-balanced in life.
Having good personal relationships is both a by-product and a requisite for emotional resilience. If we have the power to build strong interpersonal bonds at the professional or the personal level, we have already taken one step forward for a resilient life. We are social creatures, and being surrounded by people gives us the strength to overcome problems, endure them, and evolve from them. For building emotional resilience in a larger context, we must have the capacity to improve our existing interpersonal relationships and be open to building new ones (Positivepsychology).
Emotional resilience like any other skill is developed through a process and does not just happen. In each of us however, there is strength and courage we did not know we had. Here are 4 ways shared by the apa.com that can help build emotional resilience.
- BUILD YOUR CONNECTIONS
Connecting with empathetic and understanding people can remind you that you’re not alone in the midst of difficulties. Focus on finding trustworthy and compassionate individuals who validate your feelings, which will support the skill of resilience.
The pain of traumatic events can lead some people to isolate themselves, but it’s important to accept help and support from those who care about you. Whether you go on a weekly date night with your spouse or plan a lunch out with a friend, try to prioritize genuinely connecting with people who care about you.
- FOSTER WELLNESS
Self-care may be a popular buzzword, but it’s also a legitimate practice for mental health and building resilience. That’s because stress is just as much physical as it is emotional. Promoting positive lifestyle factors like proper nutrition, ample sleep, hydration, and regular exercise can strengthen your body to adapt to stress and reduce the toll of emotions like anxiety or depression.
Mindful journaling, yoga, and other spiritual practices like prayer or meditation can also help people build connections and restore hope, which can prime them to deal with situations that require resilience.
You can journal, meditate, or pray, ruminate on positive aspects of your life and recall the things you are grateful for, even during personal trials. It may be tempting to mask your pain with alcohol, drugs, or other substances, but that’s like putting a bandage on a deep wound. Focus instead on giving your body resources to manage stress, rather than seeking to eliminate the feeling of stress altogether
- FIND PURPOSE
Whether you volunteer with a local homeless shelter or simply support a friend in their own time of need, you can garner a sense of purpose, foster self-worth, connect with other people, and tangibly help others, all of which can empower you to grow in resilience.
It is helpful to acknowledge and accept your emotions during hard times, but it is also important to help you foster self-discovery by asking yourself, “What can I do about a problem in my life?” If the problems seem too big to tackle, break them down into manageable pieces.
Develop some realistic goals and do something regularly—even if it seems like a small accomplishment—that enables you to move toward the things you want to accomplish. Instead of focusing on tasks that seem unachievable, ask yourself, “What is one thing I know I can accomplish today that helps me move in the direction I want to go?” For example, if you are struggling with the loss of a loved one and you want to move forward, you could join a grief support group in your area.
People often find that they have grown in some respect as a result of a struggle. For example, after a tragedy or hardship, people have reported better relationships and a greater sense of strength, even while feeling vulnerable. That can increase their sense of self-worth and heighten their appreciation for life.
- EMBRACE HEALTHY THOUGHTS
How you think can play a significant part in how you feel—and how resilient you are when faced with obstacles. Try to identify areas of irrational thinking, such as a tendency to catastrophize difficulties or assume the world is out to get you, and adopt a more balanced and realistic thinking pattern. For instance, if you feel overwhelmed by a challenge, remind yourself that what happened to you is not an indicator of how your future will go, and that you are not helpless. You may not be able to change a highly stressful event, but you can change how you interpret and respond to it. Accept that change is a part of life. Certain goals or ideals may no longer be attainable as a result of adverse situations in your life. Accepting circumstances that cannot be changed can help you focus on circumstances that you can alter. It is hard to be positive when life is not going your way. An optimistic outlook empowers you to expect that good things will happen to you. Try visualizing what you want, rather than worrying about what you fear. Along the way, note any subtle ways in which you start to feel better as you deal with difficult situations.
There will be times in all of our lives when pressures mount or we experience pain and trauma; and at points, we will struggle to cope. However, through learning about ourselves and realizing what we can manage, we will be able to develop strategies that allow us to become emotionally resilient, to take these difficulties in our stride, and to feel confidence in our ability to cope. Are you ready?
Are you ready for TRANSFORMATION?
Dzigbordi K. Dosoo: The H.E.L.P. Coach
Dzigbordi K. Dosoo is a Soft Skills Expert, Personal Impact, Professional Growth and Influence Expert specializing in Humanness, Entrepreneurship, Leadership and Power – H.E.L.P.
A career spanning over two decades, she has established herself as a Certified High Performance Coach, Speaker, Author, Wellness Expert and award-winning Entrepreneur with a clientele ranging from C-Suite Executives, Senior Management, Practitioners and Sales Leaders spanning 3 continents.
She is the Soft Skills Expert and Founder of Dzigbordi K. Dosoo (DKD) Holdings; a premier lifestyle business group with brand subsidiaries that include Dzigbordi Consulting Group& Allure Africa.
Dzigbordi has been featured on CNN for her entrepreneurial expertise. She is one of the most decorated female entrepreneurs in Ghana having being named “CIMG Marketing Woman of the Year” in 2009; “Top 10 most respected CEOs in Ghana, 2012; Global Heart of Leadership Award and, Women Rising “100 Most Influential Ghanaian Women”, 2017.
She can be reached on [email protected] and @dzigbordikwaku across all social media platforms.