Resilience and Self Care

Job insecurity and a desire to succeed can drive us to work at capacity to demonstrate our worth to the organisation and in this global, electronic world there is no clear demarkation between work and play.

Technology enables us to be on the go 24/7 trying to tackle our never ending pile of tasks and emails. The more work we complete the more work we seem to generate.
If we are not careful we can get trapped in a situation where we work harder and harder and actually acheive less and less. We feel that this is the only way to get on top of things, when actually it is the way to ensure that everything gets on top of us!

When we are working under excessive pressure, taking the time to care for ourselves becomes really important. We need to care for ourselves so we can function effectively, care for others around us and manage our stress.

Being busy does not necessarily equate to being effective. Some of the most effective and productive people I know are also the most calm and relaxed.

So here are five things that you might wish to consider if you want to build your resilience and care for yourself.

1. Think about how effective you are being at the moment

Take a look at the Performance Curve above (adapted from work by Gladena McMahon, Association for Coaching, based on work by Robert M. Yerkes, M.D. and John D. Dodson).
The graphic shows how an increase in pressure (x axis) impacts our performance and our ability to cope (y axis). It shows that pressure increases our performance up to point – at that point we are performing at our ‘peak’ – beyond that point our performance begins to decrease.

In other words, beyond our ‘peak’ point we are working harder but achieving less. If we continue to work harder and continue to experience more pressure then we begin to experience the symptoms of stress.

Where are you on the curve at the moment?

The graphic on the right shows the elements that need to be present to enable people to perform at their ‘peak’.

This is based on work done by Charles Garfield (Peak Performers: The New Heroes of American Business).

The key element required if people are going to perform at their best and cope with increasing pressure is inner calm.

Inner calm is the element that enables the other elements. e.g. it is very hard to maintain a clear focus or prepare mentally if you have inner anxiety.

Which element(s) do you need more of at the moment?

2. Notice how you are feeling

Imagine that you are a professional sports person and your body and well being are key to your success. You notice every bit of tension or discomfort as this impacts your ability to perform and if you are sick then you cannot compete.

You may not be a professional in the field of sport but your health and sense of well being are still impacting on your performance quite profoundly.

So, take a moment now to shut your eyes, take some slow deep breaths and just notice how you are feeling. Do a check-in with yourself starting at your feet and working gradually up your body to your head. How are you feeling today? What do you notice? Don’t judge anything, just notice it. Are you tired? Are you thirsty? Are you hungry? How do you rate how you feel on a scale of 1 to 10?

If you learn to check-in with yourself regularly you will be able to choose to give yourself what you need.

3. Centre and ground yourself

I mentioned this technique last month but it is worth mentioning again in this context as it is key to looking after yourself and developing a greater sense of inner calm.

Become very aware of the weight of your bottom sitting on the chair and then notice the strong connection into the ground with your feet (this works best with your shoes off and your feet flat on the ground). Once you can feel the weight in your bottom in the chair and the connection with your feet on the ground take a few few deep diaphramatic breaths and say to yourself ‘I’m here’.

This is a great technique to use when you start to feel pressure building up and you can also use affirming statements such as ‘I’m enough’ and ‘I’m doing the best I can’.

4. Make time for things that re-engergise you

If we are going to stay calm and perform at our best then we need our batteries recharging with what ever makes our heart ‘sing’.

For me, this is going to beach, breathing in the sea air, feeling the sand and hearing the rhythmical sound of the waves. What makes your heart sing? If you cannot realistically do exactly this right now – what is the next best thing?

Remember if you are going to perform to the best of your ability then re-energising is critical.

5. Choose your reaction to things

We are often our own worst enemies and can generate a lot of our own stress and angst by our own reaction to people and events.

We can get very wound up about a throw away comment that the other person has probably already forgotten or by reading something into a situation that only exists in our own heads.

So why not choose to look after yourself and stay calm.

You cannot choose what happens to you, or how people choose to be towards you, but you can choose how you respond and therefore let it affect you.

So next time something happens that could wind you up, make that choice. Get irritated and stressed if you want to but you may also decide to manage your own reaction, care for yourself and stay calm! I hope you found some of these ideas helpful.