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Building Resilience

Updated: Mar 5, 2021

We are in a time of unprecedented change. Last week I attended a NABS course on Building Resilience under pressure.

The workshop facilitated a great discussion and delivered some fantastic tools that helped me think about my responses to pressure and stress and how we can build resilience and recognise how we experience pressure, stress and anxiety.

Our ability to positively respond to pressure and stress is linked directly to mental and emotional wellbeing, our ability to manage change and to respond positively in time of uncertainty. We all have times when we put pressure on ourselves, we feel stressed, we internalise difficult emotions or that we feel we can't cope.

When we are in the flow, we feel challenge, stress is at the right level, we feel motivated by the challenge. This is called optimum stress; this is the good stress zone before we get to fatigue which can lead to exhaustion and overload.

Pressure Performance Curve:

Psychologists Robert Yerkes and John Dodson developed a first version of the pressure performance curve back in 1908. They used it to show the relationship between arousal (pressure) and performance for Yerkes-Dodson Law.

Some key tips I took out of the session to share:

1 - Build self-awareness – understand your stress triggers and start to know what is important to you - keep a diary and note down feelings of stress

2 - Set a plan – from understanding your stress and from reflecting on this – create a plan and try out new ways of responding to stress, think about the people around you and the things you can do to better cope with stress and to use it in positive ways. Always be able to change the plan.

3 - Set your own goals and your own rules - you know yourself best, do what feels right to you and try to minimise pressure you feel from external sources or from pressure you might put on yourself – stop competing with others and focus on what makes you happy, its okay to do things your way and to say no.

4 - Manage your internalised emotions and find a way of externalising emotions – think about your you respond to stress and pressure, are you happy with your response? What could you do to improve your response and have more control?

5 - Tell yourself positive stories - there are always several perspectives we can take on any situation – choose the positive story and reap the benefits. If we focus on positives it can help to disperse pressure and stress.

6 - What are you learning from the situation? Try and be reflective, what created the stress and what can you learn? How can you change the situation for next time?

7 - Remember - some stress can be good – some stress can be enlivening.

We all experience stress – the importance is how we view stress and manage. Stress prepares us to meet a challenge stress can help us to be ready for a challenge, stress response is helpful to our performance.

A good question to as is can you make stress your friend?

How we think about stress directly relates to the impact stress has on our health. Research shows that if we view stress as always harmful we are more likely to experience health issues related to stress. The science tell us that when we change the way we think about stress, possibly by acknowledging the positives of low level stress in helping us be motivated, or by acknowledging that stress is a natural reaction that our body creates to get us ready for the demands of a certain situation we can change the way our body responded in the long term to stressful situations. If we anticipate and plan for stress, we can react more calmly to stressful situations and we can accept that feeling a little stressed is our body’s way of getting us ready and helping us to motivate to deal with a situation.

If you want to know more I am happy to share any links or resources I have found. A great resource relating to assessing your own stress level and how that links to productivity is linked here.

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