During the COVID-19 outbreak we invited guest speaker, Pia Buysse, to talk to our internal Checkster employees about resiliency. After running our own Checkster Insights survey to gauge how our employees were coping with the recent changes, we learned that stress was the biggest hurdle (once we solved any lingering hardware and software hiccups).
So we invited Pia to help train our staff on how to foster resilience. Here are the key takeaways of Pia’s presentation.
First, what is resilience?
Resilience can be defined as the capacity to recover quickly from difficulties; toughness.
Some key resiliency practices include:
- Self Control & Gratitude
- Conscious Awareness
When fear or stress arises, engage in exercises to train your mind on not allowing those feelings to take control. One practical trick you can try is to count backwards from 100 to 0 - or saying the alphabet backwards. Something that needs brainpower / real focus. Breathe deeply and close your eyes if it helps. Don’t get discouraged early. It may take some practice, and you may have to try several techniques to find what works best, but over time you will find it is possible to re-train our minds to control our thoughts and impulses.
How does self control translate into office work?
Set a goal to work on a project or task for a couple of hours and when the time is up, give yourself a reward. A reward can be anything that makes you feel good, including facetime with a colleague, enjoying a cup of tea, etc. You may find it easier to use these small rewards to help push you through different projects or phases of the day. Worry is hard to control, however the more you practice training your self control, the easier it will become..
Research on self control is one of my personal favorites. My husband used to conduct a self control test with our kids when they were toddlers. It’s called the Marshmallow test. This famous research shows a direct correlation between physical, mental and professional success and being able to deal with delayed gratification. Here is a quick video for those who are curious.
Consciously practicing gratitude will help with resilience. So how does one practically implement that? Try this: At the end of the day write down 3 things for which you are grateful. This small act will help your mind to focus on the positives, rather than the negatives and it will trigger the brain to continue searching for gratitude-inspiring moments throughout the day.
Throughout the day a lot of information and distraction is coming our way, and to no surprise, as a trigger response to this overload, our minds end up wandering. This wandering can be good for certain things, including creativity, however it can also be a detriment when it comes to stress and anxiety. It brings us back to our reptilian brain, which controls self-protective responses, and as a result, any indication of danger or trouble (large or small), can skyrocket our anxiety.
What should we do about that? Here’s one example of something you can try: A few times a day, when you are doing dishes, cooking, taking a shower, walking … ask yourself “What am I thinking of?” Often, we are not even aware a negative thought has entered our mind. By asking yourself this question, you become more conscious of your thoughts. Don’t judge yourself or the thought when it is a negative thought. Just accept it and move on to something else. Take in all your senses. Try looking at nature around you, feeling the water on your body, or smelling your delicious dinner.
Perhaps take a couple of times a day to understand your personal mind map. Stay aware of what you’re thinking about, and try to be conscious with your thoughts, so when your mind begins to drift to the negative, you can attack it. Build mind mapping into your routine as an ongoing ritual. For example, do some mind mapping anytime you take a sip of water.
To start, toss out the concept that multitasking is efficient and productive. Nope we aren’t good at it; in fact,our developed brains aren’t built to multitask. Multitasking forces us to ping pong between multiple things at the same time, creating a significant amount of stress for the mind. Even worse, it also decreases productivity by 40%. So yep Slack, IM, phone always go on mute for me when I am working on a project and practicing my self control.
Try creating a simple ritual when you want to start focusing on a project and need a lot of brainpower. It could be lighting a candle, putting on classical music... Anything that triggers your mind to focus. Think of it as an indication, or trigger, to your mind that you mean business. For a period of time, try not to allow for any distractions. No play, just focus. After the period of focus is over, reward yourself with something small but enjoyable: perhaps a marshmallow!
Get out, run, hike, enjoy nature:
Exercise has been proven to release dopamine and endorphins which in turn create happiness. From what I understand not only will it provide a delivery of feel-good chemicals, but it also reduces stress.
Pia Buysse earned her Masters in Organizational Psychology at the San Francisco State University. It was there she experienced the positive vibe of internet start-ups and their possibilities for human capital. Back in Belgium she specialized for 15 years in HR processes and the impact of CSR on company culture in both small companies and multinationals. Together with Elke Geraerts, Pia founded in 2014 Better Minds at Work. She headed the consultancy branch of Better Minds at Work in order to prepare organizations for the future. Pia gets inspiration during her visits from Silicon Valley to China and she is therefore the perfect sparring partner to make your organization excel in agility, leadership and innovation. Today she works as an independent consultant improving company culture by creating a sustainable work environment.