OK, you’ve had a bad day. It all started when you ran out of petrol on the way to work, but things really turned to custard when someone bumped into you on the way out of the cafe, knocking your flat white to the pavement. A grumpy co-worker aggravates you all day by interrupting you with trivial questions. Then on the way home from work you stop at the supermarket for the regular, weekly shop. It’s only after you’ve unloaded the full contents of your trolley onto the checkout counter, that you realise you’re in the fast lane: maximum 12 items only. The customers behind you start complaining loudly…..
So, what do you do? How do you cope when you’ve had a bad day? Do you:
- eat chocolate; drink wine
- blame the world
- blame your partner
- hit the TV
- tell yourself you’re hopeless?
We all suffer stress to varying degrees but how well you bounce back after stress is referred to as resilience. Resilience is not a trait that people either have or do not have. It involves behaviours, thoughts and actions that anyone can learn. Being resilient doesn’t mean you don’t experience difficulty or distress. In fact, the road to resilience is likely to involve considerable emotional distress.
How resilient are you?
Test yourself: Look at these statements about personality and character and decide whether you mostly agree or disagree with each one.
- You are a certain kind of person, and there is not much that can be done to really change that.
- No matter what kind of person you are, you can always change substantially.
- You can do things differently, but the important parts of who you are can’t really be changed.
- You can always change basic things about the kind of person you are.
Whether its personality, sporting ability or intelligence, the beliefs that you have about yourself shape the way you approach the world and make sense of it. Researcher Carol Dweck, found that people have 2 possible mindsets:
- Fixed Mindset: where people believe their basic qualities are fixed traits. They spend their time documenting their intelligence or talent instead of developing them.
- Growth mindset: where people believe that their most basic abilities can be developed through dedication and hard work.
Questions 1 and 3 are the fixed-mindset questions and questions 2 and 4 reflect the growth mindset. Which did you agree with more?
Your mindset has an impact on your resilience or your ability to bounce back after stress. So if you beat yourself up by telling yourself you’re hopeless when you’ve had a hard day, you’re likely to have a fixed mindset. But, if instead, you tell yourself: “that’s frustrating, what could I do differently next time,” you’re more likely to have a growth mindset.
Build your resilience
How can you change your mindset and become more resilient? Shawn Achor, found 5 ways to create lasting positive change. Do these to build your resilience factor.
- 3 gratitudes – write down 3 new things you are grateful for each day. Your brain starts to create a pattern for scanning the world for the positive not for the negative first.
- journaling – write down one positive experience you’ve had over the past 24 hours. This helps your brain to relive it
- exercise – teaches your brain that your behaviour matters and releases pleasure-inducing endorphins
- meditation – allows your brain to focus on the present rather than worrying about the past or the future
- random or conscious acts of kindness – e.g. give one positive piece of feedback praising or thanking someone in your social support network daily.
Build these into your daily routine (it takes at least 30 days to create a habit) in order to train your brain to look for and experience positivity. And when the bad days happen, make like Tigger and bounce back.
And just like the song: ‘cause you had a bad day, you’re taking one down, you sing a sad song just to turn it around.…
And if you need to build your resilience, book on our Resilience and Wellbeing course.