How to manage stress and build resilience


Everyone experiences periods of stress in their lives. Stress is not always bad and can be a healthy response to feeling excited, all of the tension with none of the fight or flight response. When periods of bad stress become more frequent and have long lasting negative effects it can become difficult to bounce back. While we can’t determine when we will feel stressed, we can prepare ourselves to make it easier to get through.

Resilience helps to manage stress before it becomes mentally and physically overwhelming. We build resilience by learning coping mechanisms that can help to manage immediate stress and stress we may experience in the future.

What is resilience?

Resilience is the ability to adjust to change and adapt to difficult situations. This can cover a range of stressful events and situations, from a new job, moving to a new city, losing a loved one, or stressful world events. 

Regardless of the cause of the stress, resilience is the coping mechanisms we develop to overcome the anxiety or fear that accompanies a stressful event. Think of resilience as mental training helping you to problem solve before or within the pressure of a stressful situation.

These factors make is more difficult to build resilience:

While many of us may assume that our response to stressful events is something we can easily control, this is not true. Many attributing factors to stress are beyond our control as they are directly attributed to other people and external factors. Some ways of managing stress and building resilience are not always available to all of us and the ways in which we deal with our own stress is a very personal process.

These factors make it more difficult to build resilience:

  • Long-term physical or mental health conditions

  • Experiencing discrimination, including racism, homophobia, sexism, ableism or religious intolerance

  • Isolation from family and friends support, especially for immigrants and those who live far away from their established support network

  • Poverty or money concerns, like debt or benefits problems

  • Living in an area without access to everyday services like healthcare, public transport, and green spaces

  • Living in an area with a lack of safety or protection due to a lack of policing 

Top tips on how to build resilience to better manage your stress

Make your wellbeing a priority

Making your wellbeing a priority can help to counteract the body's common reactions to a crisis situation. When stressed it can be all too easy to neglect your own needs, this may present as a loss of appetite, neglecting an exercise regime, and not getting enough sleep. Different things may work for different people, but here are some ideas for you to try make your wellbeing a priority:

  • Look after your physical health. Whether that be maintaining a regular sleep schedule, getting back into a workout schedule, or adding more variety into your diet, these small steps often become the most difficult when stressed and can make a big difference overall.

  • Get outside and into nature. Spending time in nature can help to rebalance and recharge you, so take a walk through a green space, care for your indoor plants, or spend time with animals. All of these activities can help to provide a hit of serotonin.

  • Practice self care. Being kind to yourself in stressful situations can affect how you feel and manage those situations. This includes making the time to relax by taking short breaks throughout your day to give your body and mind a well deserved rest.

Build a support network

According to research by the University of Bath, around 9 million adults in the UK describe themselves as often or always feeling lonely. According to a study published in the journal PLOS Medicine, loneliness has such far-reaching outcomes that the health impact is comparable to smoking up to 15 cigarettes a day. A strong support network is the key to combating loneliness, here are our suggestions on where and how to build one:

  • Family and friends. Sometimes simply telling the people close to you how you’re feeling can make a big difference, and through talking about what’s on your mind you may come to a resolve on some of the things causing your stress.

  • Support at work. Depending on your work structure, this could be from your manager, a human resources representative, or employee assistance programme offering. Employee wellbeing is an important part of every business, and employers should take it seriously. Learn more in our blog mental health statistics we should all be aware of.

Be mindful of your time

Sometimes filling our calendar and every moment on your day can add to your stress levels instead of providing relaxation. If this begins to happen, it’s best to begin making changes in the way in which you organise your days to allow for additional control and moments of relaxation and reflection.

  • Make lists of your priorities. This will help to prioritise the tasks you need to complete in a day, starting at most important and helping you to focus on completing the ones causing an increase in stress first. Another tip is to create a calendar of tasks and assign a set amount of time to each task, making sure you don’t overload your day and add in additional stress.

  • Set yourself small, achievable goals. It’s easy to set unrealistic goals in response to stress, but often this just creates more stress. It’s better to create small, achievable goals to create a sense of control over a situation to help us feel more satisfied when we are able to complete them.

  • Set clear boundaries and manage expectations. Setting clear boundaries around your capacity can help to alleviate stress and manage the expectations of those around you.

  • Ask for the help you need. If you feel that you have taken on too much and aren’t able to manage, ask for help from someone close to you or a colleague should your tasks be work related.

In today’s fast-paced world, managing stress and building resilience is more important than ever to overall health. As we strike a balance between professional and personal life, work-related travel often adds an extra layer of complexity and stress. Healix Risk and Resilience takes a closer look at how this additional level of stress affects employees here.

Offering employees a healthcare solution that prioritises both physical and mental wellbeing provides the support employees need to manage stress and build resilience. From support with the physical and psychological effects of chronic stress, Healix offers healthcare options that support the needs of all employees within a defined budget. By fostering a culture that prioritises mental and physical wellbeing, employees are supported in navigating everyday stressors more effectively, building a workforce that is not just productive but truly resilient.

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