How to Build Resilience in Challenging Times 

 

The COVID-19 pandemic will go down in history and historians will use a wide variety colourful language to depict it but one word that without question describes the last 24 months is challenging. From the physical impact of a fatal virus to the mental struggles of prolonged social isolation to the financial woes brought on by redundancies and furlough, the pandemic has presented obstacles to us all. Despite the emergence of vaccines, the pandemic isn’t over yet. Therefore, it’s important to develop resilience to these challenges so that we can not only survive them but thrive in them.  Well, we at People Vision, have put together this guide on how you can do just that. 

Image by Maxime
 
Vision 

 

Vision is a rather abstract concept but, in this case, it refers to our goals in life and ultimately what we want for our lives. These can be both short-term and long-term as well as both work-related and domestic. Regardless of what they are, the more that our personal goals and values are aligned with the work we are doing, the more protected we are from feelings of stress and anxiety. If you’re pulling a late shift at the office, remembering why you’re there and what you’re working towards can provide a great mental boost and push you on towards the finishing line.  

 

It’s one thing to have goals but it’s quite another to figure out what they should be. Well, there are many ways to determine your aims but we, at People Vision, have found that SMART objectives are a fantastic tool: 

 

  • Specific – outline in a clear statement precisely what is required. 

  • Measurable – include a measure to enable organisations to monitor progress and to know when the objective has been achieved. 

  • Achievable (or agreed) - design objectives to be challenging, but ensure that failure is not built into objectives. Objectives should be agreed by managers and employees to ensure commitment to them.  

  • Realistic (or relevant)- focus on outcomes rather than the means of achieving them. 

  • Time-bound (or time-bound) – agree the date by which the outcome must be achieved. 

 

Whist well-suited to professional goals in your working life, these criteria can help you form aims in almost any are of your life: from learning Mandarin to running in next year’s London marathon. Once you have these goals, it becomes much easier to focus on work and push on when faced with obstacles to overcome.  

 

Lastly, it’s important to talk about your goals and aspirations with others. Such conversations can inspire positive emotions, such as excitement, confidence, team spirit and that all important sense of accomplishment.  

 

Composure 

 

When we’re faced with setbacks or unforeseen obstacles, our well-being can deteriorate significantly and as a result our jugdment can become skewed and our minds consumed by negative thought patterns. In many cases, such a mind state will often make things worse rather than improving the situation. Therefore, it’s critical we avoid this downward spiral, but how? 

 

Well, first it’s important to remember that thoughts are just that, thoughts. They’re not facts, nor are they tangible in the real world. We have the option to not engage with them and instead put them to one side and move on. Admittedly, this is easier said than done so we’ve put together a tool to help you achieve this: a Thought Record (see below). 

 

Thought Record 

 

Use this template to identify and alter the relationship between difficult situations, negative emotions, unhelpful thoughts, counter-productive behaviours and distressing physical reactions. Practice noticing how identifying and changing negative thinking can alter the way you react to challenging situations.  

 

 

Other useful methods for regaining your composure are breathing techniques. Stress and anxiety shuts down our frontal lobe and this greatly inhibits rational thought. However, breathing techniques allows us to regain calm and thereby re-activate our frontal lobe and think clearly once again. A well-known and widely used technique is ‘Box Breathing’: 

 

  • Inhale for the count of four. 

  • Hold for the count of four. 

  • Exhale for the count of four. 

  • Hold for the count of four. 

  • Repeat as necessary. 

 

There are many other breathing techniques out there and we recommend doing some research as they are perfect for collecting yourself and performing a soft reset.  

 

Reasoning 

 

Some problems we can see coming but many more can catch us unawares. When this happens, it’s important we make the most of our reasoning and find effective solutions using the resources readily available to us. There are three key areas to consider: 

 

  • Problem solving – being open to finding alternative solutions to situations or problems. 

  • Being resourceful – being able to find a variety of ways to overcome difficulties. 

  • Anticipate and plan – being aware of alternative ways to manage and having a range of options prepared ahead of time, where possible.  

 

This last point is particularly prevalent given the uncertainty that has become part and parcel of the COVID-19 pandemic. At any moment, unforeseen difficulties could arise. For example, new social restriction could come into play or a staff member could test positive for the virus. In these cases, a back-up plan is essential.  

 

Lastly, we should try to change how we view problems. Rather than obstacles in our path, set-backs, difficulties and challenges are potential learning opportunities. Seeing them in this light allows us to be creative and more resilient to events happening around us.  

 

Health 

 

Health, be it mental or physical, is always important and your own personal wellbeing should always come first. In the hustle and bustle of working life we can often forget this most basic fact: we’re not machines but human beings who need to be looked after. At People Vision, we believe there are four key areas that we should all reflect on as we seek to improve our health: 

 

  • Mental Health 

  • Are you feeling fatigued, stressed or anxious?  

  • Are there people you can talk to? Friends or family? 

  • Do you need any professional support? 

  • Are you taking time for yourself and doing the things you enjoy? 

  • Physical Health – sleep, exercise, nutrition and hydration 

  • Are you getting enough sleep? If not, why?  

  • Are you drinking enough water or maintaining a balanced diet? 

  • Do you get enough exercise? Is there a gym nearby or could you go for regular walks? 

  • Financial Health 

  • Is your financial situation impacting your mental and physical well-being? 

  • What kind of advice or support could help you manage it? 

  • Environmental Health 

  • Are you able to perform in the physical environment at home and work? 

  • Are you in a stressful or anxiety-inducing environment? Do you have alternatives? 

  • Can your environment be adapted and adjusted to better suit your needs? 

 

These are just a few questions that we should all consider to better improve our general health. Dealing with each of these issues in turn can ensure that we are in the right physical and mental state to cope with the challenges that may come our way.  

 

Collaboration & Relationships 

 

Unfortunately, we’re not the only ones who can impact our personal wellbeing. Friends, family, colleagues, even strangers they can all have a significant effect on how we feel both physically and mentally. Therefore, it’s important that we maintain positive relationships with the people in our lives: help them out so they help us out. Not only will this minimise friction in your relationships, which in turn will reduce the potential for stress and anxiety, but it can also promote wellness internally and externally.  

 

This can be easy when it comes to your friends and family as they intrinsically care about you and your wellbeing. This makes them a fantastic source of comfort and support. However, it can be somewhat harder to foster these relationships with colleagues, especially mangers or supervisors. However, it’s important we make the effort. After all, for five days a week, they are often the people we spend the most time with. By befriending colleagues, you create an environment at work that is positive and a place that you’re happy to be it.  

 

Our relationships with the people around us are critical to our own well-being. They sustain and support us and they can also help us create a positive environment which will make dealing with challenges and obstacles that much easier.  

We hope you enjoyed our article please call us on 0345 4599710 or email admin@pvhr.com where we will be happy to support you.