Workplace stress is on the increase. In the UK 12.5 million days each year are lost to work related stress. Globally that figure is echoed with over a quarter of working adults describing their employment as their biggest source of stress. The World Health Organisation describes stress as ‘a global health epidemic’ So how do we build resilience at work?
One of the things that we know to be true, is that you can’t change other people. You can’t change the economy either or, sadly, your workload if you feel that you’re drowning under it. The good news? You can change yourself and that is the basis of most of the resilience research over the last ten years. Even if you don’t feel particularly resilient, thanks to neuroscience, organisational psychology and contemplative science, you can train yourself. Here’s how.
1.Develop Situational Awareness for Resilience at Work.
Research has demonstrated that employees who practise situational awareness are more able to manage stress. You can build situational awareness by developing a regular mindful meditation practice. We know from studies that regular mindfulness practices improves decision making, increases our insight and aids our ability to self regulate when we’re in stressful situations. Building resilience at work is also easier if you’re managing your stress levels, something else that mindfulness will help you to do.
2. Build Resilience at Work by Transforming Your Narrative.
There is a Buddhist parable from the Sallatha Sutta that we like when it comes to explaining how our inner narrative impacts on our ability to be resilient. Yes, sh*t happens. It’s true. That’s the first arrow, We’ll experience all manner of peaks, troughs and downright irritations in our working lives. Building resilience won’t get rid of those.
The second arrow is the mental torture that we create for ourselves by revisiting the event, over and over again. We can’t prevent that first arrow but the second arrow is always optional. Ruminated on what happens only keeps us stuck.
Monitor your self talk around stress and if you discover that you’re overly negative reframe it. Try to see stress as a challenge instead.
Another science backed technique to build your resilience and change the narrative is writing. Grab a notebook and when something stressful happens, reflect instead of stewing. Write down 3 positive things about it. Ask, ‘What have I learned?’ “How can I move this forward?’ “What do I know now that I didn’t know before?’ By analysing and writing down your observations you’ll be building resilience.
3. Ditch Switch Tasking & your Cognitive Load to Build Resilience at Work
Try as we might to persuade ourselves, evidence from the world of neuroscience has shown that when we think we’re multi tasking, what we’re really doing is switch tasking. What does that mean? When you’re switch tasking you’re preventing flow, or optimum performance. Your brain is unable to focus fully on more than once task at a time without your error rate increasing. The cure? Switch to Monotasking instead. Try and reduce your cognitive load by compartmentalising tasks, for example, one high focus task for 40 minutes or placing email together. Keep tasks in context and avoid switching to reduce your cognitive strain.
Want to know more about developing resilience at work? We’ve worked with thousands of people and Fortune 100 companies to help them build their resilience with Resilience at Work Training Courses, resilience coaching and mindfulness at work training courses. Head over to our FREE RESILIENCE TOOLKIT or get in touch, we’d love to hear from you.