Slumping over my desk, I look up at the clock yet once again. It’s 3 pm. I have two more hours to go before I can go home and I’ve hit the afternoon slump. I realize when I look around me that the average person will spend 90,000 hours at work over a lifetime. Rather than fall into despair, I’m eager to bolster my motivation to be happier and learn how to be resilient at work.
So I dove in and did a bit of research and found pretty simple tweaks we can all make to be happy, more productive, and resilient in the workplace.
Be resilient by cultivating healthy habits
You probably already know that having healthy habits is one of the key ingredients to learning how to be resilient at work and cope better with stress.
Whether you work from home, do a hybrid, or are back in the office full-time it’s important to consider the resilience-building effects of your daily routine and habits on your overall well-being.
What is resilience?
As a mental health professional, I talk a lot about resilience with my clients since it’s a key factor in your overall mental and physical health.
In short, resilience is your ability to bounce back and adapt in the face of challenging circumstances. It’s your ability to keep a stable mental state, despite outside influences and stressors.
The American Psychological Association defines resilience as, “the process of adapting well in the face of adversity, trauma, tragedy, threats, or significant sources of stress—such as family and relationship problems, serious health problems, or workplace and financial stressors.”American Psychological Association
It’s important to remember that resilience is not an absence of stress or difficulty.
Instead, when you learn to cultivate and become more resilient, you will better understand and manage your responses. You will recognize warning signs and stressors in the future and respond in a calmer way.
Are some people more resilient than others?
Yes, some people may be more predisposed to being resilient than others. This is due to your early childhood and upbringing.
Advanced research in trauma by Dr. Bessel van der Kolk shows that children who have strong attachments with their primary caregivers bolster their resilience, thereby being able to navigate traumatic situations as an adult.
The good news is that you can think of resilience as a set of skills that can be learned and developed.
Moreover, the Harvard Business Review outlines three key factors that help to make people more resilient: high levels of confidence in their abilities, disciplined routines for their work, and social and family support.
Why is it important to be resilient?
Resilience is an important part of your self-care toolkit because it helps you know how to handle the challenges you encounter.
Did you know that when you’re mentally resilient, you’re less rocked by daily changes?
In addition, you have the self-awareness to acknowledge your stress and the ups and downs of life without becoming utterly overwhelmed.
Need some help now? Here are 8 things to do when your life feels overwhelming.
Why learn how to be resilient now?
As you’re well aware, on any given day you will potentially be faced with numerous external stressors. This along with the added pressures of taking care of your family, and juggling the responsibilities of your job are a lot to manage.
How to be resilient at work
Taking the time and bolstering your resilience toolkit will not only help you at work but also in every other facet of your life.
1. Reframe your thinking
If you’re facing a lot of stress, it’s likely that you default to your habitual stress reactions without challenging them.
In order to escape this cycle, track your reactions to stress and consider whether or not they’re valid.
For example, ask yourself if there really that much work to do, or do you simply remember the last time work overwhelmed you and feel like that may happen again?
Also, be sure to externalize your stress. Keep it separated from your person—don’t characterize yourself as ‘stressed,’ simply acknowledge that you are experiencing a bout of stress and that it will pass.
Another technique that I love suggested by leadership researcher Robert J. Thomas, is to ‘reframe’ your tension.
Instead of telling yourself, that you’re making mistakes, tell yourself that you’re engaging in learning opportunities. This helps you realize that you’re succeeding because of how you overcame struggles, not in spite of them.
2. Use time blocking
In my quest to learn how to be resilient at work, I discovered that my husband uses this technique which helps him immensely.
At the beginning of each day, actively schedule and block out your time. This helps you get a bird’s eye view of everything you need to do.
In addition, it helps you break up and prioritize tasks, which will help to make things seem less intimidating or overwhelming.
Time blocking can also be used to protect your time outside of work. It’s incredibly important that you get the work-life balance you need to relax and spend on your relationships and home life.
Since I’m a big believer in self-care, I block out time for exercise, rest, and just time for myself.
Though it may seem counterintuitive to plan out your free time, it can actually help you to identify the areas you need to spend more time on.
3. Detach from work
One area that I struggle a lot with is not bringing work home with me.
Whether you consciously think of work all the time (even in the evenings and weekends) or you actually physically bring work home with you, it’s important to set some boundaries and follow them.
In order to figure out how to be resilient at work (and at home), then you need a clear separation.
Perhaps you jot down everything you need to do on a piece of paper and leave it at work. Or you find a ritual of shutting down your computer and saying goodbye to your colleagues.
Whatever you do, don’t be tempted to blur lines because when work bleeds into your home then it’s easy to succumb to working when you’re technically off the clock.
4. Take time for yourself
So often I see my co-workers stressed and overwhelmed but unwilling to actually take a break or take time for themselves during the work day.
They just keep going and say they don’t have time to take a break.
I’ve learned the hard way after feeling overwhelmed and burnt out that you don’t suddenly get burnt out.
“It’s like a faucet that keeps dripping in a bucket and eventually it overflows. However, if you take the time to acknowledge that you need to fix the leaking faucet, then you don’t even put the bucket down to absorb the water.”Pantea Rahimian, LCSW
That being said, it’s important that you set aside a sacred uninterrupted half hour each day, where you can eat your lunch (preferably outside), take a walk, do yoga or meditate, or even just read a book quietly.
Whatever helps you to relax best.
Take control. Feel better.
Start your Self-care Journey.
Trust me, it really does make a world of difference to your mental well-being and ability to center yourself.
Need some inspiration? Here are 10 easy self-care hacks guaranteed to reduce stress at work.
5. Reach out and connect with others
I’ve said this before and I’ll say it again, we’re social creatures designed to connect with others. Therefore, working in isolation will impact your mental health and well-being.
Whether you’re working from home or in some type of office, make an active effort to feed your need for socializing.
Learning how to be resilient at work will require effort from you but know that having a strong community makes a significant difference in your well-being.
One activity I’ve set up at my office is a monthly event called ‘Tea for the Soul’, similar to hygge, I bring tea and cookies for everyone in the office. This encourages staff to take a self-care break and socialize with their peers and relax for a bit.
6. Look on the bright side
In my quest to learn how to be resilient at work I realized that I oftentimes focus on the negative aspects of my job.
Furthermore, I honed in on this and realized something important. The parts of my job that are most frustrating are actually ones that I have NO control over.
Since resilient people are more optimistic I started focusing all my energy on what I love about my job. I stopped investing any mental energy in the negative.
Not surprisingly, I have started feeling better and more engaged at work.
Want to be happier? Here are 10 happiness hacks you can begin now.
7. Start meditating
The key to determining how to be resilient at work (and everywhere else in your life) is to strengthen your self-awareness.
Oftentimes we function on autopilot and are not aware of anything around us. Mindfulness teaches us to be more present orientated without judgment.
Meditation takes it a step further.
It helps you gain a better sense of your feelings, your thoughts, and how the two intermingle.
If you’re new to meditation check out the best meditation tips for beginners.
Short on time? Here are simple meditation exercises you can do in 30 seconds or less.
I’m not going to lie.
Building my resilience toolbox has taken me a lot of effort. Especially when there are external stressors going on in my life.
In figuring out how to be resilient at work, I realized that the traumatic experiences I had early on in my life impacted how I respond and react to stressors in my work environment.
Unbeknownst to me, these difficult experiences were actually the training ground for my adult self.
I realize that no matter what, I never really know what’s going to happen next.
This is hard for me since I suffer from anxiety and thrive when I can be in control.
However, I realize that I can plan as best as possible but life will unexpectedly throw me a wrench.
It’s not easy mind you but I know that I can pivot my thinking. I have the capacity to cope with more of life’s unexpected slings and arrows, accept the difficulties I face, and keep going, even though it can be hard.
What have your experiences been like building your resilience toolbox? What do you think would be helpful for me and others to do more of? Please share your stories and comments below.