Resilience Is Not About Endurance, It's Something Else

resilient employee

Most of us define resilience as the capacity to keep going after a crisis or tough time, but what is it really all about? How does someone bounce back after facing difficulties regardless of speed or urgency?

Our general concept of being resilient is just a fragment of the bigger picture. A person’s capacity to be resilient goes beyond endurance - it also lies in the physical, emotional, and mental aspects of our body. We grow up thinking that being able to endure running another mile after finishing five, staying up till 4 AM doing homework, or doing three more reports past your working hours exhibit resilience. But that is wrong. Being resilient is not about how or what you endure rather it’s about how you recharge and recover.

Overworking and exhaustion can inhibit recovery, which can become a deterrent to achieving resilience. It’s not just the physical and mental capacity of an overworked person that is at stake, it can also lead to lower productivity at work. Research by Judith Sluiter has shown that there is a direct correlation between the lack of recovery and increased chances of health and safety problems. 

A worker’s lack of recovery that is caused by inadequate sleep, continuously thinking about work, and distractions brought by technology can cost around $62 billion a year in lost productivity.

There is also a  biological reason for how a lack of recovery hinders us from becoming resilient and that is the “homeostatic value”. As defined by positive neuroscientist Brent Furl of Texas A&M Institute for Neuroscience, it is the value of our certain actions on creating an equilibrium (state of balance) and well-being. It was directly derived from homeostasis or a biological concept that enables our brain to spontaneously sustain our body’s well-being. 

When we overwork ourselves, our bodies experience misalignment or imbalance that can trigger wastage of both mental and physical resources that are trying to regain balance before going through the cycle again.

For us to achieve resilience, we have to follow a certain cycle. Try hard, then stop for a while, recover, and then try it again. Unfortunately, many people get the stop and recover stages confused, as stopping doesn’t necessarily mean recovery. There are various activities involved for someone to recover and recharge the mental capacity to overcome challenging situations  and it is not just enough to stop. .

Tips on building resilience in the workforce

  1. Reevaluate the proportion of your time allotted work and for your well-being. The longer you stay in the work ‘performance’ zone, the longer you have to be in the recovery zone. Always make sure that you also get enough rest as you work; whether it’s sleeping or simply just a time off from all the hustle and bustle at work.

  1. Have short breaks while you work. Maintain your breaks while working, breaking up your day with different activities and breaks helps keep your work and rest balance. Shift your attention to self-improvement like taking short online quizzes, or refraining from eating at your desk and lunch out with your colleagues without talking about work.

  1. Make the most of your leave. Use your paid leave and make the most out of it: Schedule a vacation once in a while, eat out with your family, shop with your friends, or go for a stroll at the park.  A key reason you have annual leave is to ensure your well-being and keep a balance between your work and personal life.

  1. Balance your exposure to gadgets. If you are working on computer screens during your work day, you probably should tone down your usage of devices like mobile phones after work.

Keep in mind that your physical and mental well-being is key for your health and key to being  a productive employee. Resilience is one great competency that can help you succeed in your career so make sure to keep these tips in mind.

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