Personal Resilience: Three Techniques to Overcome Stress
Change is one constant in our working lives, and for us to be resilient, we need to understand how stress plays a key role in building and enhancing resilience.
In challenging moments where situations are outside our control, we must ask ourselves what to do when we face significant change. And, more importantly, what impact our decisions will have. Our ability to think clearly during these moments can help guide us toward the positive outcomes we seek to maintain our well-being. That said, how can we navigate these challenges and change?
The first step is understanding one of the key outcomes of anyone experiencing challenges, setbacks and pressure: stress.
A simple explanation of stress
Stress is a feeling of strain and pressure that can be experienced mentally and physically. It has short- and long-term effects on your body, such as aches, pains, digestive problems, exhaustion, trouble sleeping, chest pain, high blood pressure, depression, pain attacks and anxiety. Historically, stress has been around as long as humans have, but it was extensively studied in the 1930s during the Great Depression.
Experiencing an extended period of stress can not only have severe consequences like the ones listed above but can also lead to lower job performance, as it can make it difficult to concentrate, make rational decisions and depletes resources. Stress often throws our body into a state of survival where we advocate for quick, short-term solutions rather than decisions that will succeed in the long term. In the workplace, short-term solutions include judging yourself more harshly, becoming more defensive and being more likely to blame others.
Therefore, in addition to needing to overcome a challenging situation, we also need to overcome some of our own physiological mechanics that can impact our ability to deliver a successful outcome.
Strategy One: Understanding your stress and how it impacts what you do
Understanding how your stress manifests is the key to greater awareness of how you process information and its impact on your feelings. Remember, stress is the body’s response to situations that it perceives as difficult or challenging. When you are exposed to stress, your body releases hormones such as adrenaline and cortisol, which trigger the body’s fight-or-flight
response. That response causes physical and mental symptoms, such as increased heart rate, sweating, muscle tension, difficulty concentrating, agitation and feeling overwhelmed.
Learning to recognize the signs can help you better respond to stress in a healthy and productive way. Strategies like deep breathing, journaling, talking to a friend, seeking professional help or going for a walk can help reduce stress levels and the feelings it causes.
Strategy Two: Breathing Techniques
Breathing is one of the most powerful tools at our disposal for managing stress, calming our minds and improving our overall well-being. These techniques are commonly recommended to individuals with normal levels of stress and patients with anxiety disorders. We often take our breath for granted, but the truth is that how we breathe can have a major impact on our mental and physical health. Through the proper application, we can quickly shift our energy and reduce our stress levels.
For example, diaphragmatic breathing is one of the most effective breathing techniques at reducing stress. This exercise encourages us to take slow, deep breaths while expanding our lungs and allowing our diaphragm to move up and down, encouraging relaxation by activating the body’s parasympathetic nervous system, which is responsible for calming the body.
By taking the time to practice proper breathing techniques, we can regulate our emotions and how we are feeling. Once you consciously recognize the feeling of being stressed, we can keep our harmful instincts at bay and enjoy a more balanced life.
Strategy Three: Reframing Your Thinking
The mind is also a very powerful tool. In moments of extreme stress, it is hard to reframe your thinking without practice. However, in the heat of the moment, after becoming aware of your stress and using breathing to calm yourself down, reframing your thinking can help you overcome the challenge. It is important to practice self-reflection to identify the narrative that you’re telling yourself. Once you have identified the narrative, you can take it a step further and adjust it to be more realistic and empowering.
Tell yourself the following:
- “I can do this. I have done this before, and I can do it again.”
- “Being challenged is how I can learn and grow.”
- “Everything will be okay. I just need to get through it.”
The use of narratives and affirmations can help you overcome stress by allowing you to think more clearly and critically about a situation. By taking a breath and stepping back to evaluate your thoughts and actions objectively, you can develop a more positive and hopeful narrative. Focusing on resilience, courage and strength can help you better cope with difficult situations and burnout.
There are many other ways we can navigate the challenge of stress, but these three solutions provide intuitive means of helping you calm down and give you the clear thinking needed to overcome a crisis. By employing these techniques, you will not only build long-term resilience but also the ability to train yourself to be resilient.
At imatters, we understand the obstacle that stress can be in the workplace and how it can impact our day-to-day lives. We want to be your resource for how to navigate stress and how to become resilient. We’re in your corner. Reach out to one of our eye care recruiters today.