We are living in a period of exceptionally rapid change. You can often feel you are struggling to catch-up. This leads to frustration, anxiety and tension or as it is often labelled, stress. In today’s busy world, you are constantly contending with increasing demands on your time and energy. Every day you:
- Prioritise and set boundaries around competing tasks and requests for your attention
- Develop successful personal and working relationships with many different types of people
- Make decisions quickly
- Respond flexibly to a constantly changing environment
- Process a never-ending stream of information
You need to be able to bounce back from pressure and protect your physical and psychological well-being. The ability to do this is resilience. The good news is you can train yourself to develop greater resilience.
The dictionary definition of resilience is the ability of a substance or object to spring back into shape. The synonyms of resilience are flexibility, adaptability, suppleness and durability. These are all attributes that can be utilised to keep you in the best shape for facing the challenges of 21st-century life.
By training in resilience techniques, you can overcome stress and improve your ability to adapt to unfavourable circumstances. There is not just one single approach. You need to look at both mind and body as a whole. You are after all an integrated organism, so there is a need for an integrated approach.
If you first look at what your body needs to be resilient, you would have to understand nutrition. Very simply, what food is beneficial for your health? Naturally, this will vary with each person, but a broad view would be to limit the ‘too much’ category, e.g. alcohol, sugar, caffeine etc. You might need to look at this as one way you could be sabotaging your resilience. Occasional indulgence (gluttony without guilt) is quite acceptable, but continual over-indulgence and making bad food choices ruins your health, and cultivating a strong mind in a weak body is difficult.
Strengthening your body with exercise is a major component of your physical wellbeing. Hundreds of articles have been written on the benefits of physical activity. Ancient practices such as Yoga, Tai Chi, Chi Gung, have all been tested for many generations, with practitioners of these disciplines providing anecdotal evidence of their benefits. Having been investigated by science in the last 30 years, they are now accepted by medical practitioners to have many positive outcomes for the mind, as well as the body.
In the quest for good health, the more modern activities such as Pilates, gym workouts and all their aerobic offshoots have gained a place in people’s lives.
There are newer or as some may view, more radical health practices such as the Wim Hof Method (the Iceman) involving breath holding and cold immersion, now ratified by science at Wayne State University and the Netherlands’ Radboud University Medical Center. These institutions have investigated the relationship between conscious and autonomic aspects of central nervous system (CNS) function and protection against autoimmune diseases. (https://www.wimhofmethod.com/blog/ongoing-research)
There is now a wealth of information about improving and maintaining physical health, an important factor in improving your resilience.
The mind, the part of you that makes choices, is the other important component of resilience training. How do you look after your mind? Is spending hours looking at social media improving your mind or hindering it? Is the drain on your energy, agitation and anxiety becoming greater? Have you accepted this as an inevitable outcome of having a busy life? The truth is life will probably get busier, and there is a need to be prepared.
In the past before the fax, the internet and the mobile phone, letters would take days to arrive and to return, now it’s instant reply. Your attention is being demanded on many different fronts all at the same time. If you do not manage your mental health, it will lead to burnout or at the very least, poor performance. Furthermore, your resilience will be worn down if you are constantly thinking about the past and feeling guilty or projecting into the future and developing anxiety. This is stress, past guilt and future worry, and you need to learn how to protect your mind it if you want to succeed in a busy and competitive environment.
The solution: Mindfulness, the new ‘black‘ in business, the ancient perspective of staying in the present. Companies that are embracing corporate mindfulness such as Google, Nike, Intel, Apple and many more see mindfulness as an important ingredient in improving resilience.
Mindfulness helps to manage the many stresses, difficulties and attention-grabbing distractions that you have to contend with daily. There are now numerous techniques that can help you stay focused in the present. Probably the most talked about technique to develop mindfulness is meditation. (Overview of latest meditation research for several types of meditation and the effects on various aspects of wellbeing.)
Twenty years ago, mentioning meditation practices and the corporate world in the same breath would seem an unlikely combination. However, that has changed, and it is now common for companies to have ‘well-being rooms’ that encourage the practice of meditation, contemplation and relaxation.
Luckily there is now a wealth of published knowledge that can be tapped into, with numerous courses and teachers to provide the very best up-to-date information. To create your ‘resilience armour’, this knowledge needs to be integrated into your life so you can safeguard your well-being for the future.
Holistic Services Group works with you to create a workplace wellbeing program, and to provide your workplace with highly engaging, experienced facilitators, with the latest in resilience and mindfulness research. With an understanding of the unique dynamics of a corporate environment, they will provide your team with practical tools to ensure that your staff can not only bounce back from adversity, but also learn how to perform at their peak.
Rod Lee is one of Holistic Services Group’s most highly acclaimed facilitators. His areas of expertise include Mindfulness, Meditation, Resilience and Chi Gung (Qi Gong). His background includes 45 years of martial arts experience, teaching at Nature Care College, and writing and narrating the Qantas Airways’ and Malaysian Airlines’ in-flight meditation audio programs.