We are one year into the pandemic, and it has certainly been an incredibly challenging time for people from all walks of life. While we have all found our own preferred survival strategies, one concept that comes uptime and time again is that of resilience.
Resilience is the capacity to recover quickly from difficulties; toughness.
I am sure we all love the idea of being able to“recover quickly from difficulties” but the truth of the matter is that for many, their resilience is starting to waver under the weight of 2020’s adversities.
Professor Jill Klein is an expert in resilience, wellbeing and decision-making for business, government, clinical leaders and organisations. Currently at Melbourne Business School (MBS) and Melbourne Medical School, we discovered Prof. Klein’s work at the height of the first wave, when compiling case studies for how business schools and students were adapting to the pandemic. Her content was shared with us by David Tan, the wonderful Associate Director of the Career Management Centre at MBS. Prof. Klein has dedicated her career to helping people and organisations, and is now helping people build and strengthen their resilience—specifically with the pandemic in mind.
After the pandemic swept the globe, Prof. Klein and her colleagues at MBS recognised the vital importance of resilience in helping their students (and the wider community) with their mental health and career success during these uncertain times. Knowing this, Prof. Klein created a series of videos for the community where she gives the viewer some valuable of resources, like a model of resilience, to use as a framework for their understanding as well as tools to use when faced with adversity.
In her series, Prof. Klein discusses that one of the key factors of resilience are our coping mechanisms. Below, we look at 5 coping tools Prof. Klein recommends to strengthen personal resilience in 2021 and beyond!
When facing an adversity, instead of getting overwhelmed, it is good to get into some problem-focused coping mechanisms. An effective place to start is by breaking down the problem into manageable segments. Planning out your response will help you better navigate the situation, and setting achievable goals is important in staying afloat and pushing through. Make sure you celebrate the small wins as you get back on track!
Prof. Klein shares that when we are making decisions we tend to make better choices when we have multiple options to choose from. Being flexible helps us take a step back and look at the many opportunities we may have to solve a problem. This pandemic has shown us all that things can turn at a drop of a hat and being flexible is vitally important in adapting to these changes well.
It might come to a surprise to many, but spending time with your friends and family helps with your resilience. While you may have not consciously incorporated these events into your resilience building plan, these positive emotional experiences are a fun and meaningful way to cope with testing situations. Having a strong support group gives people a way to process their emotions. Specifically, friends and family can provide hope, connection and advice. While many parts of the world are still in lockdowns and social distancing, it makes it more difficult to get that social interaction. If you haven’t already, Professor Klein encourages individuals to get creative with technology and virtually connect with friends and family.
Investing time into some self-care can help you get out of a negative headspace and feel those far more helpful, optimistic emotions. While there are the tried-and-tested, healthy practices like going for a run, meditating or eating a nutritious meal, any activity that makes you feel good is beneficial. So, take the time to watch Netflix or play video games if that is what you enjoy, as these acts of self-care allow us to be distracted instead of ruminating and help us to feel refreshed when ready to take on a problem next.
Humans have a tendency to look at the worst in situations and really that came from an evolutionary stand point. Back in the Stone Age, if our ancestors chose to focus on a beautiful vista instead of a predator stalking them we might not have been here today. It is in our nature to often look straight to the negative, but this can lead us to premature anxiety, reducing our ability to focus and to look at a situation clearly. Klein encourages us to next time you start stressing over an event think about what went well. Can you name three things? You might just find that events didn’t go as badly as you initially thought.
This past year so many of us experienced unprecedented levels of change, uncertainty and stress. Building our personal resilience sets ourselves up to cope with the challenges we face as we learn to live in a more volatile world. Make sure you check out Professor Klein’s series on resilience that can be found here for in-depth explanations and research driven tools to help you become a more resilient, mentally strong individual.
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