You know - Lions, Tigers and well Cheetahs and the like! I won't tell you the full answer that I was given although I'm sure you can guess, but in short they spend most of their days sitting under a tree and conserving their energy. Working smart and effectively, preserving their strength. This brilliant side note came from Ray McKiernan of Resilience International during his talk at Hacking Happiness and I wanted to share with you some more of his wisdom today! Namely some tips on how making yourself more resilient can help you deal more effectively with stress in your life.
Among many other things, as a specialist skills trainer and trainer in stress management Ray works with people in conflict, peacekeepers and people who have to deal with hostage situations. All very high stress circumstances with their own trials and difficulties. He is also a specialist trainer on stress, pressure and burnout so with that background he certainly had a great deal to offer us willing listeners at the conference. As Founder of Resilience International he has built an organisation that provides evidence based training solutions to people and organisations under significant pressure.
Dealing with high stress and extremely difficult situations is something most of us will come across at some point in our working or daily lives. For some of us, luckily, maybe only once or twice if that, for others quite possibly on a regular basis.
When placed under high emotional stress a key factor is how we will respond to such a situation, the more resilient will adapt much more readily without such lasting effects on their emotional and physical health. Now I'm not entirely sure I can count myself among the emotionally resilient despite being tested with I guess some of the tougher ups and downs of life through the years. The good news is that this 'armour for modern day life' can be learned and I will attempt today to show you and point you in the direction of how!
Understanding your resilience is about self awareness. Our internal unconscious mind makes up about 80% of our day to day thinking, self awareness can help us to over-ride subconscious negative patterns and find new ways to react and resolve.
I've gathered together some advice for building resilience into your lives through some of my own research. I thought I'd share here the five top tips that most stood out to me when it comes to learning and practising this skill:
1. Own what is happening to you and don't rely on addictive patterns. One common problem that we have when dealing with situations in life, be they good or bad, is a tendency to fall into known patterns of response. We have to learn to break these patterns and use critical thinking and reasoning to find solutions. To not just give in to unconscious negative patterns learned from previous incidents.
2. Practice patience with yourself and maintain empathy with others. Resist the urge to blame others around you when things go wrong and learn to be patient with others but also with yourself. Be mindful, absorb the situation and don't run. Ask yourself what can you learn? How can you solve this? Be patient as you figure out the answers, find a resolution. Be courageous and not a victim of your circumstances.
3. Live to learn. Put simply the more that you challenge yourself in life and go out of your comfort zone the better equipped you will become at dealing with adversity. Let yourself evolve and grow. Experiences in life will enable you to build confidence and look for solutions rather than running from your problems.
4. Take care of yourself. It's simple and it gets said a lot but for good reason. Good health and healthy habits are the foundation of mental and emotional resilience. Eat well, catch up on your sleep, keep fit and healthy to give yourself the best chance of coping well in a crisis. Don't forget your mind - take regular mental breaks, meditate to keep the mind focused and calm. Don't let your wellbeing resources deplete.
5. Remember the funny things in life, keep your sense of humour! There's a reason the phrase 'comic relief' is popular in society (apart from being coined by the well known charity). In times of trouble don't be afraid to laugh. Laughter really can be the best medicine and can enhance our survival by reducing tension and stress to more moderate and manageable levels.
So if you want to become more resilient to challenges in your life then you could start by building on the above to fill up your resilience resources. It's when our resources deplete that we are unable to cope with stress, as we age this gets increasingly harder. Research has shown that high levels of stress actually affect the way our DNA ages, hence why people under stress can suddenly look a lot older and with increased chance of illness. The good news is that by building our emotional resources, learning and practising these techniques we can reverse these adverse affects, retain greater focus and stay healthier for longer. We just have to make the choice to do so and be active in our approach.
To finish off today's post I just had to share the quote below that I found on the Resilience International webpage - I think this sums things up perfectly and is certainly something worth bearing in mind as you work on building your own resilience toolbox.
"It is not the strongest of the species that survive, nor the most intelligent, but the one most responsive to change"
So how resilient are you? Why not take this test and find out!