3 Secret Ways to Strengthen Your Resilience

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There are some fascinating secrets about resilience that people are not aware of that are actually backed by science.

Recently, I attended a workshop in Alice Springs for women focused on Women in Leadership. The speaker was from Darwin and the workshop was about Fearless Women in Leadership and it re-affirmed for me the importance of three key principles that create resilience.

 

FOCUS ON THE POSITIVE

What I found really interesting, and surprising, was that there were quite a few women who really struggled to come up with information to describe themselves in a positive light. They struggled to share what were the qualities they hold which are unique and special about them, and were some of the compliments they receive from others? I realized that years and years of doing personal and professional development had well equipped me with these answers that I could easily rattle off about myself. Yet many women felt really uncomfortable with the exercise. When you recognise positive traits in yourself, subconsciously and at a chemical level, you're releasing the positive hormones. Those positive and stress reducing hormones are also creating synapses, the neural connections that rewire your brain to believe that the positive traits you have recognised are true.

 

REACH OUT TO PEOPLE YOU SEE STRUGGLING

I also knew that there were some women in the group that were doing it tough, they were really doing it tough in both their business and professional lives. There were questions in the workshop which were challenging them personally some discussions were hitting a nerve. This made me realise that I needed to reach out. I won’t go into too many details, as it’s personal, but I decided to reach out to one person in particular within the group. I wanted to let them know that, I'm here with them, and that I believe in them. When you belong to a community (business, women, region etc) there is great value in being part of a community. In fact, research has show that when you reach out to people, you become more resilient. Researchers found that those that experienced high levels of stress had an increased risk of dying, but those that were connected to their community reduced their risk of dying by 30%. Recently here in Alice Springs there was a wave of vandalism down the Todd Mall. Once café in particular had its window smashed in. While it is covered by insurance, obviously the excess payment is high and a cost to the business. Everyone banded together to make sure they supported that café in that week with their patronage.

 

ASK FOR HELP

In The New Yorker, Maria Konnikova reported on a thirty year study in Kauai, Hawaii. It was conducted by developmental psychologist, Emmy Werner. In the study they followed 698 children for the first 3 decades of their lives. In the study they focused on reactions to trauma and stress.

Two thirds came from stable, comfortable homes and generally functioned okay.
The other third was considered ‘at risk’. In their home life, they had been exposed to unusual stress or difficulties.

And of this at risk group, two thirds of them unfortunately grew up developing learning and behavioural issues. Yet the remaining third, grew up to be good, caring adults, just like the ones from safe, comfortable homes. They developed resilience.

There were two reasons for this:

1. Some of the “at risk” children had access to a supportive caregiver who helped make sure they didn’t go through their problems alone.

2. The others went through their lives on their own terms and were fiercely independent from a young age. Interestingly, some who initially weren’t resilient, later developed resiliency.

Quite often we get trapped into the notion that if we're successful, we don't ask for help, when in fact it's actually the contrary. People who are resilient feel comfortable at raising their hand and saying, “I need assistance with this”, not falling in a heap and thinking “I’m the victim, help me” but actually asking for help in the right way.

So actually, connecting to people, and with people will increase your resilience. You are not only helping somebody else, you're actually helping yourself in that sense as well.

When we are stressed, our pituitary gland pumps out oxytocian as part of the stress response.  It’s a biological response to make you seek support and be surrounded by people who care about you.  This is because Oxytocin is a neuro-hormone that fine tunes your brain’s social instincts. It actually makes you crave physical contact, enhances empathy and more willing to help or support others.

So your body is basically forcing you to reach out to someone, instead of bottling it up. It’s also making sure that you notice when someone else in your life is struggling. As a survival as a species, we are wired to support each other in turmoil, stress and danger.

Oxytocin doesn't just act on your brain. One of its main roles in your body is as a natural anti-inflammatory that protects your cardiovascular system from the effects of stress. Oxytocin helps heart cells regenerate and heal from any stress-induced damage; it strengthens your heart.

So what does this mean? When you reach out to others, either to seek support or to help someone else, you release more of this hormone and you actually recover faster from stress. Science proves that the we have a built-in mechanism to develop resilience, all we have to do is reach out and connect with someone.

I suggest you think about those three points. Focus on the positive, reach out to somebody you see is struggling, especially in your community or business community and lastly don't be afraid to ask for help. Those three things will have a huge difference on your wellbeing, your professional development and your personal development. One example is here in Alice Springs. There was a recent spate of crime through the mall and shops were broken into, there was a conservative effort from the community to patronise those particular shops throughout that week. The thought was if you're going buy a coffee anyway, buy it from one of those particular shops. This made a huge difference for those businesses to be have a surge of income to be able to cover their expenses, and in particular their insurance excesses.

Reach out to your community and your business community when you see someone struggling. It really does make a difference and will only serve you further down the track.

DO:

  • Write a list of 100 things that make you unique
  • Focus on Your Strengths
  • Acknowledge the good in others
  • Reach out to someone

Don't:

  • Focus and criticize the faults in others, don’t invest energy into it.
  • Don’t bottle up your problems, go out and connect
  • Be afraid to ask for help

Would you like to become more emotionally resilient?

If you are feeling stressed at work, particularly by the behaviour of others, I may be able to provide you with some resilience strategies. Book in a time for a chat. I can’t promise I can fix everything, but the next best thing I can do is to chat with you. Make a time that suits you for a 15-minute chat. Once I know you better (and you know me) we can decide if you want to dig a little deeper into the issues and can organise a free Stress Management Strategy session.

About the Author:

Barbara Clifford - The Time TamerBarbara Clifford (The Time Tamer) is a time management & stress management enthusiast based in Alice Springs, Australia.  She has spent over 20 years working in time precious and stressful industries such as film, hospitality and marketing.  She has always had a burning passion for creating order and making sense of things.  She is sought after like a beacon in a sea of chaos to provide professional development in the business environment through workshop training, coaching, mentoring, online training programmes, webinars and as a guest speaker around Australia.  Her professional experience has included contracts with small business, Not For Profits, Aboriginal Organisations, Media, Marketing, Aged Care, Universities, Health Services and Cruise Ships. Follow Barbara on Twitter @barbclifford. 


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