If I feel as though I’m flirting with burnout, does that mean I need to work on my resilience?
Or am I just weak, or in over my head? Or just plain incapable? (Hello, Imposter Syndrome!)
Short answer: no.
The concept of resilience in the workplace can certainly have negative connotations – there are so many “hard core superstars” who work until 2am, run marathons, have an active social life, and are just an all-round good guy that it can sometimes make us feel inadequate if we’re struggling.
We start “shoulding on ourselves” – I should work longer hours, I should go to the gym, I should get the salad instead of burgers when working late in the office, I should spend more time with my family…
Rather than meaning “hard-core-ness”, resilience is simply the psychological strength to cope with stress, and the ability to bounce back following difficult and challenging times.
Because of this, resilience lies at the heart of burnout.
Of course, what is stressful to some will not be stressful to others – it is our personal perception of stress that makes it so. The idea that we should be resilient, whatever the situation, is frankly a load of poppycock, especially when it may do us psychological harm or trauma in the long run. There is no resilience standard that we all must aspire to or else we have objectively failed in being resilient.
And situations requiring resilience are many and varied – you do not have to have experienced extreme trauma to benefit from your own innate resilience. It can be a demanding workplace, a toxic colleague, a failing project – anything that adds worry, stress or anxiety to your normal mental load.
Resilience is having an awareness of your stressors and your responses to them, and actively working through them, rather than avoiding or ignoring their effects.
So ask yourself: What tools do I have to manage my stress and emotions?
My article on Emotional Intelligence may be a great place to start, given its fundamental premise that Awareness = Choice = Change. Becoming aware of how we think and feel about a situation will help us to consciously choose how we respond, rather than reacting, and gain some control back of the situation. What conscious choices can I make right now that will alleviate some of the mental pressure I am feeling? Look at what assumptions you are living by, and get curious – do I need to live with these stressors, or is there something I am putting on myself?
Also ask yourself: How can I ensure I have a growth mindset?
Recognise the impermanence of these difficulties before you, and consider what you have immediate control over, and conversely, recognise those things that we have no control over. Know that we can always grow, change, and learn, even (and sometimes especially) from adversity, and that no situation is permanent. Make your conscious actions forward-looking and purpose-driven, rather than dwelling on things that have happened or are out of your control.
I know – this is hard. Resilience is often not easy, and there is a lot in this world that feels like it will overwhelm us any moment, and swallow us whole.
I get it, I’ve totally been there.
And while bubble baths and spa weekends are great, they barely hit the edges when you’re struggling to breathe.
This is why it is so incredibly important to talk to someone about what you’re experiencing. There is no one-size-fits-all option, there is no quick-chat-and-it’s-all-resolved option. Sadly!
But that’s why I’m here – because I get it, and I want to help you be and feel the best you possibly can.
So get in touch with me here for a free chat about whatever is on your mind, and we can take it from there. I’m on your side, always!