Building resilience - Museums Association

Building resilience

Resilience can be thought of as the ability to cope under pressure and recover from difficulties.

Resilience is a useful concept in principle, but there is a risk that the responsibility for ‘being resilient’ falls at the feet of the person who finds themselves in a pressurised or difficult situation.

Organisations have a duty of care for the health and wellbeing of their workforce and it is important to remember this legal requirement.

We can develop our own resilience, which involves behaviours, thoughts and actions that can be learned over time.

Here are some helpful pointers on how you might approach developing your resilience.

1. Make connections

Build networks of contacts and friends at work and outside of work. Start small and connect with people you can trust. Look for like-minded people or those where there is a mutual connection, and you can offer something they will value.

Beware of draining relationships or ‘one-way’ relationships that confirm negative feelings or circular situations.

2. Take a break

While it can be important to stick to routines, endlessly worrying can be counterproductive. Try and focus on something besides what is worrying you. The old saying ‘a change is as good as a rest’ is powerful: try changing your location, your state, your activity – all can be energising.

3. Allow time for self-care

This is about making time to eat properly, exercise and rest. Make sure you have time to have fun, and make sure that you have not scheduled every moment of your life with no “down time” to relax.

Caring for oneself (and even having fun) will help you stay balanced and will leave you better equipped to deal with stressful times.

4. Move towards your goals

Set reasonable goals and then move towards them one step at a time.

Moving towards that goal – even if it’s a tiny step – and receiving praise for doing so (including self-praise) will focus you on what you have accomplished rather than on what you haven’t, and can help give you energy and confidence to move forward in the face of challenges.

5. Nurture a positive self-view

Remember ways that you have successfully handled hardships in the past and think about how these past challenges can help you build the strength to handle future challenges.

This is often difficult when you are consumed with the here and now, but taking time to reflect on where you have been and how you have grown can be positive.

6. Keep things in perspective and maintain a hopeful outlook

Even when facing very painful events, look at the situation in a broader context and keep a long-term perspective. Try and see that there is a future beyond your current situation and that the future can be good.

An optimistic and positive outlook enables you to see the good things in life and keep going even in the hardest times. You don’t have to be optimistic about everything, but finding one thing that gives you hope can be enough.

7. Look for opportunities for self-discovery

Tough times are often the times when we learn the most about ourselves, so consider having a discussion about what you have learnt after facing a tough situation.

Think about this within the context of developing new skills, insights and strategies that you will be able to apply in other situations.

8. Accept that change is part of living

Change can often be scary. Consider that change is a part of life, and new goals can replace goals that have become unattainable.

Of course it’s not as simple as this, but accepting the realities of change can help you understand why you are responding in a particular way.

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