As any business leader knows, struggles, setbacks and stress are an inevitable part of life and of business. In order to get through these tricky times, building your resilience can help you find ways to bounce back. These experiences go on to strengthen your business in the future.

What is resilience?

There are several elements to resilience, one of which is around accepting that mistakes are a part of life and understanding how you can learn and grow from them. Resilience is also about self-care, such that when we look after ourselves we are better prepared to cope with difficulties. It’s also about seeking support when we need it, and looking inwards to focus on our strengths and make sure we’re using them as well as we can.

So what does this look like in practice? Here are 10 tips to help build and strengthen your resilience.

1.  Check in with yourself

Spend some time checking in with yourself, asking if you’re doing okay or if you need some help. Review which aspects of your home life and/or your business are going well, which you are finding more challenging and how you might approach these differently. Building resilience is about reflecting on similar challenges you’ve experienced and considering whether you can apply strategies you know have worked in the past.

2. Acceptance

Some things just cannot be changed. We cannot control the actions of others, predict the future or go back in time. Beating yourself up over mistakes at work, missed business opportunities or worrying about the future just adds negative emotions to negative situations. Instead, try to be more accepting of what you cannot control, focusing instead on the present situation and how you can influence this.

3. Gratitude

There is plenty of research to back up the positive benefits of identifying the things you are grateful for. One way to do this is to keep a gratitude journal and jot down three things you’re grateful for every day. So instead of seeing only what’s not worked out that day, recognise what’s going right, and be proud of even the small things that you have achieved.

4. Boundaries

An easy way to understand boundaries is to think about what’s okay and what’s not okay for you. Everyone’s boundaries will be different as they’re a unique combination of our experiences, culture, and life phases. Boundaries can be more difficult to maintain when we’re feeling stressed or worried, but this is a time when our boundaries can contribute to our resilience and feelings of safety. 

For example, you may know that you tend to feel stressed on a Friday afternoon as you are attempting to finish tasks, and that meetings going into your diary at this time causes you to feel anxious. Blocking this time out in your diary and communicating your boundary with your colleagues can reduce anxiety, and increase feelings of safety as you know this time is protected.

Make a list of your boundaries within a work context and communicate them to colleagues. If a boundary violation happens, notice the impact on your wellbeing and focus on how you might respond differently in the future.

5. Self-care

Self-care is a term to describe all the ways in which we look after ourselves, from basic day to day necessities such as brushing our teeth or taking medication when we’re ill, to spending time with friends or enjoying our hobbies. But it’s all too easy to forget about self-care, especially when life gets particularly busy, stressful or difficult. Part of building resilience is making time to recharge your batteries. When you feel refreshed, it helps you to think more clearly and to bounce back from challenging situations more easily.

6. Physical activity

As well as feeling physically strong, physical activity can also strengthen you mentally. It releases brain chemicals that reduce stress and help you feel good, including endorphins (the brain’s natural pain-killing-chemical), dopamine (the pleasure hormone) and serotonin (the happiness hormone). It also boosts your immune system, strengthening your resistance to viruses. Physical activity helps you to feel stronger and more resilient in both body and mind so you could consider it an investment in your business.

7. Back to basics

Doing an audit of the other aspects of your wellbeing can also help you to feel stronger. Are you getting enough sleep? If not, you might notice you respond to challenges in a less rational, logical way. Likewise, you might be relying on caffeine, alcohol or sugar to get you through the day, but these can all impact your resilience to stressors. Where possible, review your sleeping and eating habits and try to prioritise healthy options as even small adjustments can have a big impact on your overall wellbeing.

8. Boost your mood

When we’re deep in a challenging situation, it’s tricky to remember what can help to improve your mood. Thinking of this as an area in which you have complete control can help you to see the value of mood enhancing activities. Again, these will be personal to every individual, but examples of mood-boosting activities include journaling, writing lists, treating yourself, spending time with friends, hugs, moving your body, watching funny YouTube videos and many more. 

9. Talk it out

When business gets tough, it can be hard to open up and talk about, due to fear of looking like you’re struggling. However talking through big issues can help you break them up and make them smaller and more manageable. Knowing that you have a safe place to turn to when you are struggling can help reduce anxiety and improve resilience. Whether you talk it out with friends, colleagues, family or with a registered therapeutic coach, you’re likely to come away feeling lighter.

10. Trust yourself

You have faced challenges before, and you have overcome them. Remember your strengths, noting them down if this feels helpful. Think about some of the positive ways others have described you, perhaps in customer testimonials or performance reviews. Remember that we all go through ups and downs in life but that facing and overcoming challenges can lead to personal growth.

Learning the skills to become resilient takes time and practice. There is more information on resilience in the Mental Health UK guide to Managing stress and building resilience in the workplace (PDF, 580 KB)

Mental Health UK

In partnership with Mental Health UK 

Many business owners and leaders feel they need help with their mental health but don’t know where to start.

Developed in partnership with Mental Health UK, the content in this hub is designed to provide tips and guidance for improving mental health and building resilience to help set you and your business up for success. 

How to build mental resilience

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