Five steps to build resilience
How can I develop my resilience?’ is a question we hear a lot. Through our years of research and practical application we have discovered a simple and effective framework that goes someway to answering this question.
“When you’re feeling stuck on a path of negative thinking, ask yourself, ‘When have I dealt with something similar before and it worked out ok?’”
Paul Brewerton — YC Co Founder
The model consists of 5 steps and building habits in any one of these areas will make a difference to your overall resilience, so the more habits you add, the more resilient you will become. The basic steps are:
Step 1 – Take charge and control the situation that is causing stress
Stress happens when the demands of the situation exceed your perceived ability to deal with them. The more you perceive you can control, the less stressed you feel. Stress isn’t an external phenomenon, it’s how you respond to your circumstances and if you identify what you can control, your stress reduces. So work out what causes you stress and then consider how you can realistically take more active control of that situation, for example through preparation, breathing, and reframing.
Step 2 – Master your mindset and make a choice how you perceive uncertain, unwanted, or stressful situations
Accessing positive emotions when you’re not feeling it has a net positive effect on your brain and can help buffer you from stress and panic by kicking off a positive emotional chain reaction which can give you a sense of hope, where you can see the potential to move through a tough situation rather than feeling stuck and helpless. So, when you’re feeling stuck on a path of negative thinking, ask yourself ‘When have I dealt with something similar before and it worked out ok?’, ‘What can I do now to get a different perspective on this thing I’m sitting with?’. Just allowing yourself to be curious in a stuck, stressed moment will up the chances that you can move into a more positive frame of mind.
Step 3 – Optimise your strengths to increase the likelihood of a positive outcome
Strengths are those qualities that energise you and that you are great at or have the potential to become great at. If you choose to take your strengths into a tough situation that you are facing at work or at home, the choices you can make in that situation can feel less threatening and more in your control, is more likely to lead to a positive outcome, de facto you will be covering off steps 1 and 2 of our model. You’ll be taking charge and you’ll be taking in a more positive mindset to the situation.
Step 4 – Build a strong social support to act as a protective factor during stressful times
At the neurobiological level, when you feel that you have strong social support, it has been shown to reduce stress-related illnesses, increase self-confidence, improve problem-solving and release the social bonding hormone oxytocin, which reduces fear and anxiety and improves mood. And practically speaking, the stronger your bonds with your social network, the greater your resilience will become. So, working on your relationships and deepening the connections you have with those around you is 100% guaranteed to build your resilience.
Step 5 – Embrace the challenge and keep growing and developing
You should strive to keep working on your skills to increase your ability to adapt and flex when things get choppy or uncertain. One of the best ways of doing this is to develop a growth mindset. This helps you move away from a win-lose analysis of a situation where you may be anxious about failing or a negative outcome and focuses you more on the process of learning and development, where there is always positive to be found. It moves you away from thinking about trying to be perfect and towards a focus on progress.