This post contains “Resiliency Quiz” along with helpful tips to improve resilience in the workplace.
What Is Resilience?
Resilience is the ability to handle and recover from life’s setbacks and challenges, such as financial issues, illness, job loss, divorce, death of a loved one, etc.
People who are emotionally resilient face hardship head-on, instead of victimizing themselves or using unhealthy coping mechanisms to escape difficult feelings.
Related: How To Become More Emotionally Resilient? Top 10 Powerful Ways to Stay Healthy and Happy During Tough Times
Resiliency Quiz: Am I Resilient?
The following questions represent common signs of emotional resilience:
#1. Do you often tend to view yourself as a survivor rather than a victim?
#2. Do you strongly believe that you can keep going until you make it through?
#3. Do you often manage your difficult emotions well and in healthy ways, until they pass?
#4. Do you believe your actions play a great role in determining the outcome of event?
#5. Do you tend to treat yourself with kindness and compassion in the face of hardship?
#6. Do you maintain a strong network of supportive people and reach out for support when needed?
#7. Do you, in general, have a positive sense of self and feelings of high self-esteem?
#8. Do you have a sense of purpose that motivates you in life?
We will not sell your information. All results are kept confidential.
This quiz is for informational purposes only. It is not meant as a diagnostic or assessment tool.
The questions above represent common signs of emotional resilience. If you answered yes to most of these questions, then you’re probably a resilient person.
Related: How To Build Resilience At Work? Top 19 Ways To Build Resilience And Prevent Burnout
Top 10 Ways To Improve Resilience And Wellbeing In The Workplace
To a large extent, resilience is a skill that you practice and build.
You have the potential to build resilience to deal with most situations, cope with difficulties and challenges, and bounce back.
#1. Raise Your Awareness
For you to change your perception about a certain stressor, you’ll need to be aware you are stressed.
Emotions and emotional memory are directly connected to physiological responses.
Whenever you experience a particular emotion or memory, your mind will forward assumptions and beliefs, and trigger physiological reactions that helped you cope in the past.
The result is a reaction and behavior that is motivated by a now unconscious belief, such as “there will never be enough money,” or, “my needs will never be met,” or, “people can’t be trusted.”
For example, if you have a belief that there will never be enough money, you may find yourself feeling stressed over money, even though you have a high-paying job.
It’s important to become aware of these assumptions and beliefs before you can gain control over your stress response.
Try This: Self-Awareness Exercise
1. Think about a situation that made you feel stressed, angry, or frustrated.
2. Notice how it makes you feel in your body. Does the body feel tense, constricted, restricted? Notice any changes in areas like your jaw, chest, stomach. Notice your breath and heartbeat.
3. Notice the intensity of your emotions as you think more about the situation.
4. Pay attention to your thoughts. What are you really angry about? Write down these thoughts.
You’ll have a better chance of regulating the stress response when you address triggers and negative beliefs around a particular situation.
#2. Manage Difficult Emotions
Your emotions, even difficult ones, serve a purpose.
Emotions such as anger, frustration, or resentment are meant to alert you that something is wrong and action needs to be taken.
You may need to stand up for yourself or for someone you love, you may need to slow down to reprocess what happened and make effective decisions, or you may need to set boundaries.
Stress pushes you to take action and forces change when change is due.
Validate and Understand Your Emotions
Do you allow yourself to feel your emotions, or do you tend to repress them?
Many people were taught that difficult emotions, such as anger, sadness, or frustration are wrong and shouldn’t be expressed. Some people would even guilt and shame when they experience difficult emotions.
The irony, though, is that when you ignore or suppress your feelings, they only become stronger.
Difficult emotions don’t vanish on their own and don’t heal themselves. They build up inside us, like a debt that will eventually come due. They start poisoning everything we do, whether we like it or not.
Try This: Connect With Your Feelings
1. Think about times when you act out in angry or out of stress and spend a few minutes contemplating how that made you feel.
“When I act out of stress, I feel ___________________.”
2. Notice how positive or negative your choice of words.
#3. Change Your Perception
You might be thinking to yourself that if you can’t change a stressor in your life, such as your job, then you are doomed because your stress response is always active.
Don’t despair. You still have the ability to fix the problem by learning how to change your perception of the stressor.
Research shows that people experience a stress response when exposed to a situation that involves any of the following characteristics:
Novelty: the situation is new to you.
Unpredictability: you perceive the situation as unexpected or unpredictable.
Threat to your sense of self
Sense of low control over the situation: you have the impression that you lack control over the situation.
In this sense, similar situations can cause a little stress, a lot of stress, or no stress at all, depending on how the individual perceives it.
How Changing Your Perception Reduces Stress
By perceiving a particular situation to be manageable, your stress response will only be triggered long enough to motivate the necessary action.
A positive perception is also directly correlated to higher self-appraisal and belief in the success or manageability of a particular challenge.
For example, instead of worrying over your decision to change jobs, you may choose to change your mindset to believe that whatever choice you made would be okay.
You may, for instance, feel very confident that there is no such thing as a wrong choice because every choice can bring opportunity for growth and learning.
When you perceive a challenge to be manageable, you grow more resilient. This belief in your own ability and resources to handle adversity will help you gain control over the stress response.
#4. Establish and Maintain a Good Work–Life Balance
If you feel like work is taking over your life, that’s a clue you’re not balancing work and life well.
This doesn’t just include the number of hours you spend at work or working, it also includes the time you spend thinking about it and the constant access to the internet, email, and texts even when you’re away from work.
A healthy work–life balance requires that both your work demands and your personal needs are being met.
If most of your time and attention are invested in work, you end up with little time or energy for anything else. The cumulative effect of neglecting your personal needs can leave you vulnerable to stress and eventually burnout along with other mental and physical issues.
Aspects of your life, such as rest, physical activity, healthy eating, leisure activities, and relationships are essential to help you cope with life challenges.
Assess your work-life balance by tracking down how many hours you’ve worked or spent thinking or worrying about work.
Think if you are neglecting other aspects of your life – time with family and friends, time for leisure activities, etc.
Becoming aware of the imbalance is the first step to taking action.
Here are a few ways to disconnect and leave work behind:
1. Set a firm cut-off time
Set a firm time to get away from work by planning something afterwards, like attending an event, attending a yoga class, or meeting up with a friend.
2. Leave work at work
Before you leave work, empty your head by writing down a list of tasks or work-related notes that are on your mind.
Writing things down can provide the same mental relief as actually completing the task.
3. Make the commute less stressful
Use your commute to calm yourself before and after work by using deep breathing exercises or a meditation app.
If you’re driving a good audiobook, or podcast can help you take your mind off work.
If you work from home, taking a walk can help you clear your mind and get some exercise done.
4. Set healthy boundaries
Set firm boundaries around when you are and aren’t, available.
Let clients or colleagues know that you won’t be able to respond outside of your working hours.
You can do this by setting up an automatic message that replies to out-of-office emails, like ‘Thank you for your email. My work hours are Monday– Friday, from 9 a.m.–5 p.m. I’ll reply to your email as soon as possible.’
Even if someone sends a text, unless it’s an emergency, resist the urge to respond and reply the next working day.
Disconnect your work email and stay away from your laptop.
Do something you enjoy that’s completely different from what you do at work.
#5. Take a Proper Lunch Break
If you use your lunch break to get more work done and eat at your desk, reclaim back your lunch break and start doing something different.
The following is a list of things you can do on your lunch break:
1. Take an afternoon nap
3. Read a book
4. Listen to an audiobook
5. Catch up on some podcasts
6. Catch up on your favorite TV show
7. Do some research on a topic you’re genuinely interested in
8. Have a Skype Date
9. Call a loved one
10. Send kind messages to your loved ones
11. Leave nice comments on friends posts on social media
12. Meet a friend for a lunch date
13. Go for a walk
14. Go to a park, take off your shoes, and watch the clouds
15. Stretch, or move your body in some way
16. Get a manicure or pedicure
17. Get a 15-minute massage at a local spa
18. Do some low-stress errands to reduce your post-work errand stress
19. Check out a local bookstore or library
20. Get a treat at a bakery
21. Visit a museum or an art gallery
22. Make some art
Taking breaks throughout your day, and especially during your lunch break is important to reduce stress and pressure and boost your energy.
It is also important to watch what you’re eating. Diet can make a difference to how you feel at any point in the day.
Bring food from home or choose healthy options when buying lunch. Avoid snacks that will make your blood sugar rise and fall rapidly, such as sweets, cakes, and sugary drinks. Instead, snack on fruits, vegetables, or nuts.
#6. Manage Stressful Busy Periods at Work
Having a proper work-life balance might not be enough to maintain your wellbeing when you struggle to manage the pressure at work – the amount of work you need to get done in the time you have.
The strain and distress that can result from being overloaded with pressure and demands can increase your work stress and eventually lead to burnout.
The best way to manage pressure is to remain present. Instead of becoming overwhelmed with how much you still have to do and how little time you have left, stay present with what’s happening and what you’re doing right now.
Here’s how you can do that:
1. Accept it
Recognize that there is only a certain amount of time available to get things done and let go of any thoughts of how unfair and difficult things are.
2. Focus on your breath
Focusing on your breath is the best way to bring your attention back to present and focus on the task at hand.
Breathing deeply will also help calm you and clear your mind.
Breath Work Exercise
1. Try doing this exercise lying down on the ground and notice how that provides a sensation of being grounded to the earth.
2. Place one hand on your stomach and the other on your heart.
3. Inhale deeply through your nose as you silently count to three.
4. Exhale through your mouth as you silently count to six.
5. Repeat this six more times, and then see if you can work up to a four-count inhale, followed by an eight-count exhale, and then five-count inhale, followed by a ten-count exhale.
Once you’re done, notice how you feel calmer and more present.
Apps like Prana Breath, MindShift CBT, Breath Ball, and Health through Breath can help make breathing exercises easier.
3. Prioritize and plan
Successful people use the 80/20 rule to prioritize their work.
The 80/20 rule or the Pareto principle simply states that 20% of the work is responsible for 80% of the results.
So take a look at your tasks list and decide which key tasks are responsible for the most results (revenues, productivity, etc) and start with these.
4. Have realistic expectations and goals
Set realistic targets when it comes to how much could be done in an hour, a morning or a working day.
Leave room between activities and tasks. For instance, if have a meeting, block out a 15-minute slot afterwards to decompress or take care of anything urgent that might come up that you couldn’t have foreseen.
5. Manage your energy
When planning your working day take your energy levels into consideration.
For instance, if you’re a morning person, start with your key tasks first thing in the morning when your physical and mental energy and concentration levels are at a maximum and leave the more mundane ones for later.
10 Ways to Reduce Your Stress
- Practice deep breathing
- Spend some time in nature
- Write your worries down
- Listen to soothing music
- Spend time with people you love
- Play with your pet
- Quit or reduce coffee, alcohol, and sugar
- Avoid news overload
#7. Know Your Limits and Be Assertive Enough to Say No
Feeling overwhelmed with the workload you have doesn’t mean you’re incompetent or that you need to toughen up.
You need to know your limit and when more work isn’t going to be worth it, whether for your physical and mental health or you’re your productivity at work.
The Mental Health Foundation recommends that ‘when work demands are too high, you must speak up. This includes speaking up when work expectations and demands are too much. Employers need to be aware of where the pressures lie in order to address them.’
Being assertive when you need to say no and turn other people down is a skill that needs practice.
When you say no to extra work or unnecessary meetings, you’re saying yes to more important things; doing your job more effectively and maintaining your wellbeing.
1. Be clear about what you’re being asked to do
Before you commit yourself, make sure you’re clear about what’s involved and what the other person expects from you. Don’t be afraid to ask for more information.
If you don’t think you can do it, be clear about it rather than say yes and regret it later.
When saying no, be honest but give only one genuine reason.
2. Acknowledge the other person’s response but stand firm
For instance, you can say, ‘I understand you need someone to. . .
(acknowledging their response) but. . .I’m not going to be able to do it.’ (standing your ground).
3. Negotiate and compromise
You can still negotiate or compromise with the other person but be firm about what you can and can’t do.
For instance, you might say ‘I could ask someone else to do that for you,’ or, ‘I could maybe do that if you’re happy for me to drop a couple of other tasks and focus on this instead,’ or ‘I could get it done by a later date.’
Related: How to Firmly Establish and Enforce Healthy Emotional Boundaries?
#8. Get Help with Your Work
Mind’s publication How to Implement the Thriving at Work Mental Health Standards in Your Workplace recognizes that employees themselves are ‘responsible for accessing support when they need it and raising any concerns with their line manager, HR or occupational health.’
If you’re feeling overwhelmed with the load of work you have, talking with your manager about this or asking a colleague to take something off your plate or work with you on something can be essential here for your wellbeing.
Asking for help doesn’t mean that you’re admitting you’re inadequate in some way. It simply shows that you know your limit and has enough courage to speak up for yourself.
Be direct and honest when asking for help. Don’t drop hints.
Consider whether the other person actually has time to take on more work and simply tell the other person what you’re needing help with and what you’d like them to do.
Related: Struggling to Receive? 7 Steps to Open Up and Start Accepting Loved and Support
Employee Assistance Program (EAP)
EAPs are programs that promote employee mental wellness. They provide referrals to mental health professionals and other services while maintaining strict standards of confidentiality.
The areas typically managed by an EAP provider include:
- Job stress
- Workplace personality conflicts
- Personal difficulties
- Legal and family advice
- Grief assistance
- Balancing work and family
- Eldercare, childcare, parenting difficulties
- Substance abuse
- Financial counseling
Today, 77% of US employers offer an EAP to their employees. To find service providers in your area, use an internet search engine. Keywords include “EAP service providers” and you may add your location to narrow the results.
#9. Build Positive Relationships with Others
Positive, supportive relationships at work, is key to wellbeing and good mental health at work.
Other people can a source of support and make being at work more enjoyable.
- Be more welcoming and nice to new members of staff.
- Remember what it was like when you were new and share the knowledge, the lessons, and the skills you’ve accumulated.
- Aim to be sociable with your colleagues, especially when you take breaks, and before and after work.
- Find common ground, offer tea or coffee, and help whenever you can.
- Even a smile or asking how someone’s weekend was can make a difference to someone’s day.
#10. Harness The Power of Spirituality
Increasing your feelings of belonging doesn’t just involve connecting with other people. It also includes connecting to something bigger than you.
Being spiritual is not just about being religious. It is about giving and receiving love from something that is beyond what you see – it is about faith.
Faith helps you find meaning and strength to get you through hard situations.
The more meaning you have in your life, the more resilient you become.
One way to get started is to practice appreciation and to connect to your sense of awe.
For example, go out in nature and notice the small details with a sense of awe.
Try This: Explore Your Spiritual Beliefs
Use the following journaling prompts to explore your spiritual beliefs more:
- What, if any, are your spiritual beliefs?
- Are you living a life that is compatible with your spirituality?
- How do these beliefs impact the way you live your life?
- What changes can you make to your life to make it more compatible with your spiritual beliefs?
Resilience refers to the ability to bounce back from adversity and negative experiences and recover faster and prevent stress-related problems such as anxiety and depression.
Lisen Schultz, acting deputy science director at the Stockholm Resilience Center at Stockholm University, describes resilience as “a capacity to persist, adapt or transform in the face of change in a way that maintains the basic identity of a system.”
Resilience is related to change and given the rapid changes experienced in our daily lives and especially in the workplace, developing resilience becomes a necessity to face daily hassles.
Resilience is a skill that can be developed through practice.
- Portions of this article were adapted from the book Mental Health and Wellbeing in the Workplace, © 2020 by Donna Butler and Gill Hasson. All rights reserved.
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