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Discover 3 Steps to Improve Your Resilience

Last Updated 2022/04/12

In the wake of Mental Health Awareness week a few weeks ago, I must say how pleased I was to see the level of support this campaign reached.

Now I feel it's time to take vision into action. As part of promoting positive mental health, it is incredibly important to talk about one of the most potent tools in tackling mental health challenges.

Resilience.

Resilience is much, much more than bouncing back from a difficult time or situation. If you have not built these internal resources and you face a difficult situation, it is too late, you are in the position already and possibly very ill-equipped. In the VUCA (Volatility, Uncertainty, Complexity and Ambiguity) business landscape we operate in here are a few ways to develop personal resilience.

1. Control your attention

Sounds simple right? Actually, in my opinion, our attention is one of our most valuable currencies. You may question if time is more valuable than attention; however, I would counter with this.

If something happens to you in your day whether this is a confrontation, a close call while driving with you, not at fault, or a big decision that is worrying you, if you allow this to occupy your mind, time will continue to move on and will disappear, yet your attention is still not your own. Whatever you allow to consume your attention, will currently own your mind — hindering everything in your world, thoughts, decisions, communications, holding your attention elsewhere. Attention is what gets things done.

I know some will say this is unavoidable, 'How else would I think/ feel/ react?'. I'd counter with a quote from a godfather of resilience as we know it, Mr Viktor Frankl, the psychiatrist and Holocaust survivor.

"You can take everything from a man but one thing, the last of the human freedoms - to choose one's attitude in any given set of circumstances to choose one's own way".

Does this issue need my continued attention? If not, try to expel it from your thoughts. I like to imagine the problem in my body, take a deep breath and sharply breath out, and then it's gone.

2. Practise self-talk

Bringing me nicely onto my next point; In the toughest and darkest times in my life, something that helped me was; having that little voice in my head on my side. 'Keep going' when carrying heavy loads over rough terrain on my commando course at 20 years old. Later at 21, 'You'll be ok, but you need to move RIGHT NOW' while searching for IED's in Afghanistan. There are two ways to look at self-talk, empowering and limiting. The empowering voice is the I can and I will, the limited, you can't and you won't. Take note on the tone. The empowering voice is on your side, and limiting is against you.

The toughest time in my life was shortly after a close friend had died. I had become consumed with health-related anxiety, believing any day I was going to have a debilitating condition diagnosed or a sudden death. Ultimately this manifested into a tension headache that lasted three whole months, and the limiting voice owned me (Only feeding my fears). Only when I realised my empowering voice, from the past, was so powerful, strong and logical that I managed to overcome this.

Give the empowering voice a megaphone, putting limiting on mute.

3. Gratitude.

I know, before I begin there will be eyes rolling "Be thankful". To become truly grateful, you must go deeper. Seeking positive experiences in your day builds resilience. So what do I mean?

Take all the mundane tasks or actions during your day; for me, a great one is walking my dog. Nothing special, you do it every day, right?

Well, will you be doing this every day forever? As in is your dog going to live as long as you? Much as I would love nothing more, there will be an awful day where I cannot walk her ever again. I know what you are thinking, 'Wow that got super morbid. Is this supposed to make me feel better?'

Yes…. If you frame it the right way.

Every day when I walk my dog I positively bask in the experience, I look for new things that I have not noticed before about her behaviour, about our routes, sometimes holding my breath for 5 to 10 seconds and just take in the surroundings and I do sincerely value it, knowing it won't last forever.

Gratitude can be applied to anything, watching your kids play, spending times with older relatives, and even if you love your job, it won't always be the same so genuinely appreciate it.

Being able to identify small parts of your day that seem mundane, but you are genuinely thankful for can make a dull day, where things have not gone your way seem less tedious.

Resilience is a resource built up over time, work on it daily. The more you develop your resilience, the less significant things that would have a negative impact on you, become.

About Daniel Bourne

Catalyst D-O performance solutions is the culmination of former Army Commando and High-risk IED searcher Daniel Bourne's experiences and passions.

After spending six months in Afghanistan looking for IED's daily, you could be forgiven for assuming that would be the most challenging time of his life. Due to having an underlying mental health issue, a stint in a safe country with amazing conditions was much, worse. The manager in question likely is not a bad person or poor at their job; they were merely ill-equipped and lacked the emotional intelligence to assist. His performance dropped due to this, and he feels that the period was a missed opportunity for him.

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