Thriving Through Disruption PT 2 | Building Personal Resilience

Feb 15, 2021

What is resilience?
Arianna Huffington, author, co-founder of the Huffington Post and CEO of Thrive Global, said resilience would bring us into 2021… and it sure feels like we need it right now!

Generally regarded as the capacity to recover quickly from difficulties, psychologists define resilience as the ability to mentally or emotionally cope with crisis and trauma, and return to the state we were in before the adversity occurred.

The term also evokes a certain level of strength and the ability to renew ourselves. As 2021 is off to a somewhat shaky start and with the future still feeling overwhelmingly uncertain, resilience is an ability that we can all benefit from to rise from the ashes of the pandemic like the proverbial phoenix.

How does our intelligence impact our level of resilience?

There are nine different types of intelligence: spatial, interpersonal, intrapersonal, logical, musical, naturalist, existential, linguistic, bodily- kinaesthetic. One in particular that can help with resilience is Intrapersonal Intelligence.  You may know people who excel in this particular type; they are often calm in difficult situations and always seem to bounce back from challenges. This doesn’t mean that they experience less distress, grief or anxiety than other people do. It simply means that they handle these difficulties in a way that fosters strength and growth. More often than not, they may emerge even stronger than they were before.

Intrapersonal intelligence types know themselves well. They are self-aware and understand what they feel, what they want and what they need. This self-awareness hinges our intrapersonal intelligence and assists us in managing ourselves. This can include everything from balancing our moods, inspiring ourselves, dealing with setbacks, using our intuition, managing our energy, dealing with stress and precluding conditions such as depression or self-sabotaging behaviours (Shelly, 2015). 

Self Awareness in the workplace
Self-awareness is about being in touch with our natural and emotional state in the present moment, while awareness of others is about being able to pick up on another’s constant and emotional state.

A study analysing self-awareness in the workplace (Diamond, 2010) showed that only 36% of the employees tested could precisely recognise their emotions as they happen.

So if Intrapersonal skills help us deal better with increased stress, this strongly suggests that they also  make us more resilient.

How do we become more self-aware? 

    1. Elevate your morning (5am Club, Robin Sharma)
      A good morning routine can help you start the day right. See it as a gift to yourself, to give you the time and space you need to prepare yourself for the day ahead. Uninterrupted time to yourself will help you tap into your self-awareness; analyse how you are feeling and direct the day you want to have. Robin Sharma speaks about the “5am Club” and how creating a good routine helps you reach your highest level of potential.However, it’s not just about the morning routine. Adding small positive changes helps you to make better choices overall. It helps you to cement the identity of who you are. If you are, for example, running every morning, you adopt the identity of a healthy person. Activities such as smoking and eating junk food will seem less appealing to you if you think of yourself as someone who prioritises their health.”Change your beliefs, change your life”, writes Dr. Nick Hall. Creating positive habits that increase your self-awareness will help you to change the way you view yourself – and do just that.
    2. Habit stacking
      When you create habits that reinforce the person you want to become, they become unconscious activities, like brushing your teeth or getting dressed. You do them without needing much motivation. The same can happen when implementing new habits. A great way to incorporate habits is to link them or ‘stack’ them on top of one another. That’s also where having a good early morning routine helps, as you can incorporate exercise, mindfulness, meditation, and even learning into one set time of the day.Another way to do this is to add cues and time triggers. For example, if you want to go to bed earlier to have a more restful sleep every night, focus on how you can wind down your evenings from a certain point onwards, like after eating dinner. This habit stacking could look like: Eat Dinner, Clean Dishes, Put kids to sleep, Switch off technology, Meditate, Read a book, Sleep. Another way you may want to stack a habit is on another activity. For example, if you want to get physically fitter,  you could add 30 press-ups after your daily walk.
    3. Exercise
      Exercise is a great tool for increasing resilience. When you exercise you improve your brain functionality, release happy hormones, improve your immune system and your overall sense of wellbeing. When you move your body you are literally activating your senses in a different way. You are more self-aware when you are moving as you are using different muscles all at the same time. It’s a great way to get into a zone of focus.
    4. Eating healthy
      Resilience is not just preparing your body for emotional stresses. You should also consider how you can avoid environmental stresses that come from the food and drinks we consume. Focus on high-density, nutritious meals and avoid eating junk food, which causes inflammation in the body. Food is medicine and just by eating well can help you to combat many stresses physically. From drinking camomile tea to relax to incorporating  turmeric into your diet to reduce inflammation,  there are plenty of healthy hacks to boost your wellness. Don’t forget to feed your brain! Food such as walnuts, avocados, eggs, blueberries, and broccoli are great sources of nutrients for your grey cells and high in antioxidants and healthy fats. Nourishing your mind will help you to tackle the increasing number of stresses we face in everyday life.
    5. Mindfulness
      Raise your awareness with mindfulness and meditation. Taking some time to be still, and to bring the awareness within instead of focusing on external factors, is a very powerful thing. It’s a great way to tune in with yourself and allow thoughts to be there, but not overwhelm your mind. It can be difficult at the start, but the more you do it the easier it becomes. Shouldn’t you allow some time to yourself to start the day in silence? If you are new to the practice of meditation, we recommend trying apps such as Headspace to get you started!
    6. Learning
      Just because you have left your school days behind, doesn’t mean you should stop to expand your knowledge! Learning helps to create new neurological pathways, it stimulates memory and trains your brain to handle different types of challenges. With time, your ability to implement new skills and knowledge increases as your brain creates these new pathways to connect pieces of knowledge.Learning something new inevitably changes your perception of the world, which in turn makes it easier to adapt to the constant changes we face. This is a resourceful skill when we consider resilience, as it leads to a more varied life experience.
    7. Unlearn, then relearn
      As we continue to form the identity of who we chose to be through self-awareness, you will find that your old  beliefs no longer serve you. Part of being resilient is to identify what these limiting beliefs are. Prepare to unlearn, and then relearn, everything you have ever thought about yourself. To master resilience we need to relinquish doubt created from negative self-talk coming from our inner critic, statements such as “I’m not creative”, “I never remember names”, or “I’m not as clever as them”. Imagine all of these lies we have been told – by OURSELVES – over the course of our lives. These lies fuel self-doubt and create a fear of the unknown, which in turn can spiral into worry and anxiety, chipping away at our inner peace.  So start looking at the negative statements you make about yourself, and replace them with a new, positive narrative.
    8. Boundaries
      Raising your self-awareness to increase your resilience levels will help you recognise your boundaries. Having clear boundaries in life and work will help you define when it’s time to answer work emails, or when to say “no” to that social activity. Yet so many people struggle with identifying their limits and setting boundaries. Creating healthy boundaries in your social circle and business is about politely but confidently saying “no” when you feel that something is not aligned with your energy, values or wellbeing. Start with small steps, such as declining an invitation to an activity you don’t enjoy doing, or by not replying to work emails on a Sunday. What is the worst that could happen? You should also set some healthy boundaries for yourself to keep bad habits such as overeating, spending too much time on technology or overworking under control. Know when to say “no” to yourself and make enough time for rest.
    9. Digital detoxing
      Since the pandemic introduced “lockdowns” into our lives, most of us have become enveloped in technology and social media. From the moment we wake up scrolling through the news on our phones  to streaming series and movies in the evening, we just don’t “switch off” enough. Being constantly immersed in our various gadgets and virtual worlds causes digital fatigue. This can lead to lack of energy and mental clarity, cause burnout and have several negative psychological and physical effects on our overall well-being. Have you ever noticed that after spending all day staring at screens, you can literally have brain fog? It can be a frustrating place to be. So make sure you have enough time away from your tech, get outside, move your body, try a new hobby, read or listen to music – and stimulate your brain the good old-fashioned way! Working and living on computers, tablets and smartphones means we are continuously absorbing information and creating through technology. Why not give it a rest and use your hands to write, paint or play sports? Read our piece on How A Digital Detox Can Save Your Business
    10. Rest and sleep
      When it comes to increasing your resilience, resting and sleeping are as crucial as it comes. Sleep literally helps our body to mend itself and is great for our immune system. And when your body is feeling fighting-fit, so is your mind! It’s all interconnected.There is nothing worse than trying to ride the emotional rollercoaster on a bad night’s sleep. You feel agitated, confused, and unable to process external stimuli well. So make sure you get into a good sleep pattern to allow your body to recover. It’s no different to when sports people rest their body between workouts. They switch from high performance mode to recovery time and us, too, need this every day.Resting is JUST as important as being active, this is where everything comes together and where the magic really happens. Through proper rest, you will be even more creative and productive. Your physical, emotional and mental capabilities improve.

    Maintain and improve your resilience
    No matter how high your resilience levels are at this point in time, there is always room for improvement. Like many other things, maintaining and improving your ability to recover and adapt from the challenges life throws at us requires a little bit of dedication and regular practice. We hope you’ll find the steps above easy to incorporate into your daily routine. Start with one or two, mix them up, and find your favourites. Variety is the spice of life, after all. Looking after yourself should always be a priority, not an afterthought. Your family, friends and business will all benefit from a more resilient “you”.