Resilience at Work: Stress and Resilience

Resilience at Work: Stress and Resilience

Posted by Jan Lawrence

The Relationship between Stress and Resilience

Definition of stress

Stress – the moment you perceive you can’t manage the pressure, whatever that pressure is, be it work, too much work, relationship difficulties.

Your body goes through the stress response so your body goes through fight, flight or freeze and what’s very interesting is what happens to the brain.

For example, the moment your body goes into a stress response sixty percent of the frontal part of your brain starts to shut down and we need the frontal part of the brain for decision-making and being analytical.

The Brain’s Chief Executive

Think about the frontal part of your brain as the chief exec centre of the brain, the chief exec centre makes the decisions, thinks about the decisions and thinks through the decisions.  If you only have 40% availability it’s going to reduce your decision-making, without a shadow of a doubt the moment you become stressed is the moment your decision making abilities go out the window by about 60 %.  Causing you to make decisions which are irrational.

Interestingly the part of the brain that’s responsible for emotions, the amygdala, stays on, it doesn’t shut down.  You have 100% availability of the emotional centre on and only 40% of the analytical centre working.  It is therefore not a surprise you get annoyed more easily.. Is it a surprise you may become more emotional?  In essence the left side the front part of the brain, the left side more or less tells the right side “Stop it”!  But you don’t have that availability so it reduces your resilience.

When your resilience decreases your stress increases, when your stress increases your resilience decreases. So within that circle there has to be a point where you stop that.  What can you do to help switch that part of the brain that starts to shut down the front of it back on?

3 Minute Breathing Space

One of the best things you can do is to step back, come away from the situation and start to breath.  Take what I call a three-minute breathing space, so step back, move away, breathe in through your nose and then out through your mouth, it’s literally like this….the moment you do that, you start to change the stress response you start to switch on that part of the brain.  Suddenly it starts to go like this and it means then you’re starting to manage your stress, increasing your resilience.

It only takes around three minutes but you need to take responsibility for doing that, most people who are in a stress response don’t want to do anything about it, their body is wanting them to stay there, so you have to make a decision, a choice to do that.

Small things done consistently make a difference

Small things done consistently make a difference. This is the one thing if you do it time and time again starts to rewire your brain and increase your resilience

Part 2: Resilience at Work: Setting Boundaries

Part 3: Resilience at Work: Taking Responsibility