How to build resilience in you and your teams15th February 2021
Question & Retain
In last week’s Pimento Update Call, we had the great pleasure of hosting Sarah Jane Khalid, Chartered Consultant Psychologist, Executive Coach and Meditation Teacher along with Pimento’s favourite, Michelle Morgan, ambassador for Mental Health First Aid England and Founder of Pjoys: pyjamas with purpose. We dedicated our call to Resilience. Our speakers shared important and valuable messages around what makes for resilient people and how we can remain open, flexible, and willing to adapt to change and help others to do the same.
Dr Sarah-Jane Khalid opened the session and set out 4 key steps to build resilience:
Step 1 – Acceptance
The process of acceptance, Sarah-Jane explains, is Step 1 on the road to resilience. In other words, ‘If we resist, it persists’. Sarah-Jane recommended we appreciate the process and accepting the situation we find ourselves in. Humorously, perhaps, she suggests we flip the common question of “why me?” to “why not me?” in order to stop feelings of discrimination and further develop a sense of acceptance.
Step 2 – Be selective with attention
“Research shows that resilient people have a habit of realistically appraising situations by typically focusing on the things they can change” said Sarah-Jane. Most importantly, this is a skill that is entirely learnable but it’s not a particularly easy skill to learn because as humans, from an evolutionary perspective, we’re “hard-wired for negativity”. We need to try and appreciate everything, especially the ordinary.
Positive steps you can take:
- Keep a gratitude journal
- Send letters or postcards to friends and family
- Keep a ‘gratitude jar’ – a place to put little thank you notes that can be read at the end of the week/month/year
- Talk with someone, whether it be through Zoom or in person – keep connected!
Step 3 – Look at your coping strategies and be honest with yourself
Are your coping strategies helping or harming you? An honest assessment and analysis on one’s own emotions, through emotional intelligence, can help to ensure that a coping strategy isn’t worsening the situation. Sarah-Jane has often seen patients that use short-term coping strategies that cause damage in the long-term, ranging from drinking and smoking to watching Netflix.
Step 4 – Our social relationships
Many studies show the primary factor of resilience is having caring and supporting relationships both within the family and outside. Speaking with friends can help us shine a light new perspective. Whilst it is very challenging to maintain these relationships in the same way we did pre-Covid times, we do have technology to lean on.
Sarah-Jane concluded: The above steps, at face-value, seem simple enough, but implementation of these principles and actions is not so easy. So, in order to tie these together one must practice “commitment and willingness” in their implementation. It all contributes to supporting our mental health.
“The Chartered Institute of Personal Development recently shared that the most headhunted C-suite role in 2020, was Chief Well-being Officer, with a strategic mission to ensure employee well-being.” – Paul Hackett, Pimento member and Founding Partner at The WellBeings.London
Michelle Morgan stepped up next and immediately asked the audience “how are you?”, something overlooked daily but she encouraged us to be aware of our answers. She aligned her thoughts with Sarah-Jane and shared some of her top tips:
- Don’t seek perfection
- Pause and breathe
- Welcome diversity and difference
- Trust your gut instinct
Michelle challenged us to think about the concept and definition of mental health. First and foremost, it is part of our overall health and must be treated equally to physical health, which as Michelle points out, are inextricably linked.
“We all have mental health!” Michelle reminds us but each of us has a different way of coping. These differences are described by Michelle with a visual analogy of a “Lemonade” stress dispenser model with a tap that would release stress when we’re coping well. However, if our dispenser continues to fill up with stress and our coping strategies (the tap) are not flowing, we can reach an emotional snapping point and therefore the dispenser overflows. Michelle shares some indicators, some very personal to herself, that the dispenser is not being released as it should:
- Disrupted sleep
- Comfort eating
- Becoming more introverted
- Talking less to friends and family
- Having overwhelming reactions to normally small/inconsequential triggers
One’s own understanding of their own lemonade dispenser, or in other words, emotional intelligence, is the key to be able to build resilience.
Lastly, Michelle reminds us to be a leader in this space amongst friends, colleagues and family and be the one to ask others about their mental health. The question might be followed by an awkward pause but a key takeaway is for us to own our own awkward and leave that space open for people to share their thought and their own mental health.
“I find it really heartening that the importance of mental health and well-being is now firmly top of agenda for many business leaders. Mental fitness and resilience will continue to play a major part in how we grow and retain talent. Another hour well spent with Pimento.” – Annabel Dunstan, Pimento Member and Founder and CEO of Question & Retain