How to Build Resilience, Overcome Fear and Turn Challenges into Opportunities
- There are several aspects of resilience that go beyond just bouncing back.
- The ‘window of tolerance’ is where you are able to respond in a resourceful way to stressful situations.
- Recovery is how quickly and frequently you are able to go back to your window of tolerance.
- Understanding this helps you build resilience, find your strengths and develop a growth mindset.
What is resilience, why do we need it and how do we build it? In our series of articles about career development and returning to work after maternity leave or a break, we explore the topic of resilience. For more advice on how to get back into your career, sign up for a course with Get Unstuck Career Coaching on the Nabta Health Women’s Shop. The 4 part ‘get back to work’ course includes a session on Finding Your Strengths and Developing a Growth Mindset. By the end of the program, participants have the tools and confidence they need to approach job opportunities. Resilience is a key part of that.
A lot of the time, resilience is described as being able to “bounce back” like a spring, and years ago I learned that it’s also about bouncing forward. Once we go through a challenging and difficult time, we come out the other side differently and forever changed.
What is resilience?
The first aspect to understanding resilience is the window of tolerance (WOT). When you are inside your WOT, you are able to respond in a resourceful way to stressful situations, come up with creative solutions to challenges, and overall be able to self-manage.
When we are outside our WOT, we react in a way that is unfavorable, on one side either by overreacting or on the other side of the window, not reacting at all and sometimes retreating and avoiding any reaction.
The second aspect of resilience is recovery – what is the frequency and speed at which you are able to recover from setbacks or challenges? This is what “bouncing back” means, to go back into your window of tolerance.
So knowing these 2 aspects of resilience we can notice that resilience is inherent in all of us. It’s a state that connects us to a more positive, resourceful place. It also keeps us more open, more alive, and more hopeful towards the future.
Research shows us that there are certain factors that affect cultivating and building our resilience, and it comes from a collection of studies that looked into how humans who have faced prolonged situations of trauma and stress has managed to survive and also thrive – in other words, humans who demonstrated a high level of resilience.
These are people like children who come from abusive backgrounds, army veterans who experienced violence, and survivors of domestic abuse. And these are some of the key resilience factors to having a more connected and contributive life post their experiences:
- Connection to art – music, film, dance, painting/drawing, reading, poetry, etc.
- Connection to at least 1 other person
- Connection to nature & the world around us
- Connection to animals
- Making a difference for others
What do we need to develop resilience?
There are many different ways to cultivate your resilience and one way is to look closely at the above factors. You can choose 2 of these factors that you’ve recently experienced yourself and note down your experience. Once you have your 2 examples, choose one for now and remember all the details of that experience. Where were you, what were doing, who was there, how did you feel? What other sensations can you pinpoint?
If you take away one thing from this post it’s this “we become what we practice” and we’re ALWAYS practicing something. Then we can practice, meaning do the thing that you’ve just identified again, have the same or similar experience again, but this time on purpose.
What’s one thing that you can do (maybe it’s once a week, or once a month) from these 5 factors that will help you build your resilience? If you practiced ON PURPOSE then you would be working on widening your window of tolerance, and increasing your frequency and speed of coming back into your window.
Increasing your resilience doesn’t all of a sudden make everything “easy”. Challenges will still be, well, challenging. But your ability to overcome and move forward becomes stronger and you will be able turn challenges into opportunities. Stress, frustration, anger, etc. all the “negative” emotions and responses, will still be a part of life and the way we experience it. But when we can accept this in ourselves, then we can make space for it in others, and ultimately create more coherence, understanding and invite others to also widen their Windows of Tolerance.
Resilience helps you handle stress more positively and this is very important when you are juggling a family as well as a career. If you are a mother and you are looking for holistic solutions for getting back to work after maternity leave, consider using a career coach.
Reviewed by the Nabta Editorial Team.
American Psychological Association, https://www.apa.org/index
Get Unstuck Career Coaching, https://www.getunstuckcareercoaching.com/post/resilience-what-is-it-and-how-can-you-build-it