Resilience is essential in uncertain times
We don’t have a crystal ball and cannot predict what the autumn of 2020 holds for small businesses and their staff across Sussex (and the world). However, we do know that it has been a stressful year so far that has left people somewhat depleted generally. Being unsure of what is ahead contributes to the general feeling of overwhelm.
How stress affects our bodies
Stress, and our response to it, is a normal biological reaction to keep us out of danger. However, when the stressors become prolonged we don’t always drop fully out of the stress response. This maintains an increased level of stress hormones and tension within the body, which is not helpful ongoing and can cause many emotional or physical symptoms.
So why is this important now?
Well, we are currently in a time when we are at the most ‘normal’ it has been since the lockdown in March. Whilst the weather still is enabling us to get outside and only some parts of the country are experiencing restrictions, this is the time to build our resilience. Increasing resilience now will help our minds and bodies recover from the last few months and build it in preparation for the months ahead.
What is resilience?
In this case, resilience is our mind and body’s ability to cope with stress. Resilience can be built and learnt and nurtured. It comes in the form of a variety of strategies or tools which can be practiced on a day to day basis and employed when things get tough.
Why practice them now?
Firstly, because they are always helpful; and finding the tool that suits you will benefit the balance of stress hormones and tension within your body.
Secondly, once we get into a stressed situation we need to have the skills at our fingertips. Like building muscle memory when practicing a musical instrument – you couldn’t just turn up to the concert without practicing the piece of music. Your body needs to know how to relax amidst the chaos of a stress-hormone soup. Cortisol and adrenaline are released instantly when our brain perceives us to be under threat. Once that happens we are already under its influence. It makes us feel agitated and jittery, nauseous, and short-tempered. It can affect our sleep, affect our ability to think clearly, and can affect how we get on with those around us which is necessary for a good working environment.
So how can you build resilience for you and your staff?
Luckily it is really simple. Being aware of the stress response is an important factor. You can read more here… If you work with others helping them to understand it can also be helpful. A nurturing, understanding work environment will improve productivity.
The next step is finding the tool or tools that quieten your nervous system. Activities that suit you so you will be happy to practice them every day or at least several times a week.
Examples of effective Tools
Examples of these tools are breathing techniques, guided meditation, or therapeutic journaling/expressive writing. However, it may be that mindful movement, tai chi, or walking in your lunch break are more your thing. You are aiming for an activity that allows your brain to reboot.
The beauty of breathing techniques is you can do them anywhere; sitting at your desk, in the car or in bed before going to sleep. They have multiple beneficial effects on the body; they increase oxygen to the tissues, lower blood pressure, calm the nervous system and they allow us to feel more grounded and centred which helps us to make better decisions. Here are some simple breathing techniques…
Whilst you may not be able to do this whilst sitting at your desk, unless you have the office to yourself, it can be done at home to start or end your day in a calm way. The most important factor for guided meditation is to find one with a voice that you can listen to. It doesn’t need to be too long approximately 15 minutes is perfect and you need to find a quiet, comfortable space where you won’t be disturbed and can relax. Some examples of meditations can be found here…
Therapeutic Journaling/Expressive Writing
This is a great way to rationalise and order your thoughts as well as offloading them. Sometimes thoughts and feelings go round and round inside our heads until a solution seems impossible. Just getting them onto paper can be an enormous help in reducing our stress levels and improving resilience. Just let the words tumble onto the page with no worries about order or spelling or punctuation. Usually, when you do this the underlying cause of the worry becomes apparent. Here is a video about journaling to explain a little more about how to do it and how it can help you process your thoughts and worries allowing you to feel more relaxed and in control.
If these techniques are not enough to help reduce any anxiety you are experiencing then we highly recommend that you speak to someone; a colleague, a friend, or a health professional.
Learning to affect your internal environment in a positive way will help you cope with whatever life, especially 2020, throws at you.
Our thanks to Guest Blogger, Pippa Cossens for this blog article. Pippa is a Registered Osteopath and Stress Illness Recovery Practitioner