Courtney’s new research suggests that not all resilience strategies work for all situations. If you’ve been using strategies you thought SHOULD work, but you’re still stressed, you’re going to want to check out “The Successful Struggle, to find out how to pick the right tool for whatever is challenging you.
Yale University students this week held a “March of Resilience” in response to recent events dividing the school around racism and inclusion. The participating students, of all races, chanted statements of belonging and unity.
Seeing the title of the march got me thinking: what do resilience and racism have to do with one another? How do they intersect?
Living as a person of color and facing racism is undeniably a struggle. And all struggles require resilience to manage and overcome. While I am a white woman, my own son is a young black man, and I see firsthand the struggle he faces to achieve acceptance (and sometimes even safety) in our society. My son has shown the ultimate resilience in the moments when he has to attend class with his head held high less than five minutes after being handcuffed by police for questioning because he “looked like” a suspect in a campus computer theft.
I wonder, however, if “resilience” is the solution to overcoming racism that we should be focusing on. Resilience is a necessary tool for anyone who is oppressed, but resilience is a one-person job. Resilience is a way to cope after the fact.
So I am grateful that my son is resilient, but I wish he didn’t have to be.
Those who face racism – or oppression of any type – need to be resilient in order to keep moving forward and making change. The experience of racism can in fact even lead to a profound resilience that motivates and inspires transformation. But resilience is not the only solution to racism, particularly not on a large scale. To eradicate racism, we need more than resilience. We need legions of resilient people of all backgrounds marching for change.
When we talk about people who are strong and resilient to adversity, what often comes to mind is someone who possesses inner toughness. We picture someone who can single-handedly conquer anything the world throws at him.
But when it comes to surviving tough times, “single-handedly” is exactly the wrong way to do it. Resilience, it turns out, is a team sport. Research on coping suggests that some of the most successful techniques include leaning on other people.
When we manage our challenges by surrounding ourselves with others, we reap several benefits: the guidance and feedback of others, caring support, and perspective. Look for three kinds of people who can support you, to provide each of these three benefits.
When you need guidance and feedback, get support from someone in the know. If it’s a personal issue, maybe turn to a professional therapist. If it’s a professional issue, find a trusted mentor in the workplace. These people can offer suggestions for managing whatever struggle you are facing.
Sometimes we just need a person to say “I understand. I’m here for you.” That’s when you turn to friends and family for caring support. Finally, it can really help to get perspective on an issue. For that, turn to someone who has walked in your shoes, or who currently IS in your shoes. When you lean on one another, you find the perspective to realize you aren’t the only one struggling.
Resilience is a team sport, not a solitary activity. When you lean on others in a tough time, you get three main benefits that help you bounce back. Find your tribe, your support network, and lean on them. It doesn’t make you weak, it actually helps you deal with the situation faster. And that’s what real strength looks like!
No matter what your occupation, work can be stressful. There are deadlines, clients, policies and procedures, management changes, layoffs… there’s always the potential for something stressful and frustrating to sidetrack your productivity.
We’re all stressed at work from time to time! Will it always be that way? Will it get worse? Do we get more stressed at work as we get older?
Studies have shown that as we age, we actually get less stressed out about our work. The older we are, the better our attitudes about our jobs become, at least for most of us. We also are more likely to experience positive thinking on the job, and solve frustrating problems more quickly. Researchers believe that much of this is related to experience. The more experience we have on the job, the more we can put our frustrations into perspective, and the more quickly we can deal with them positively and confidently.
Another reason workers over age 35 appear to have less stress is that we tend to master the concept of work-life balance the older we get. When we’re early in our careers, work-life balance can be a frustrating challenge. We always seem to be getting it wrong, particularly as we add the demands of new parenthood (and its accompanying guilt!) on to the challenges of our jobs. Studies show that as we age, we seem to find it easier to strike the balance that works for us.
Finally, employees who have been on the job longer seem to have more realistic expectations of what their companies will do for them, and what they expect from them in return. As we stay in our jobs longer, we gain a better understanding of the implied contract between our employers and ourselves, whereas younger employees tend to get more frustrated if they believe an unspoken promise is being breached.
Not all career paths, however, get less stressful the older we get. Nurses, in particular, seem to get more stressed the longer they remain in their careers. It seems relevant that nurses also reported feeling less job security as they got older, while many of the other careers, like service sector workers and teachers, reported feeling more secure in their jobs the longer they were there.
In fact, job security is the one area in which young employees beat employees over 35 as it relates to stress. Overall, younger employees in most fields felt very secure in their position, which is one major stressor removed from them. So there are many benefits but one significant drawback when it comes to work stress as we get older.
If you’re under 35, here’s what can you do to be less stressed now:
- Find a work-life balance that works for YOU. There is no universal magic formula for being a good parent and a good employee.
- Learn what coping skills work best for you, so you can overcome stress more quickly.
- Approach your work with realistic expectations about what the company and you “owe” one another.
If you are over 35, here’s what can you do to be less stressed as you age:
- Take as much control as you can over your job security by being a workplace leader and mentor, staying innovative, remaining up-to-date with technology, and continuing to build on your responsibilities.
- At the same time, boost your confidence that you would survive a potential job hunt by getting involved now in professional associations, staying up-to-date on certifications and research in your field, and continually networking, both in-person and online.
Whatever your job and whatever your age, you are likely to experience job stress. But there are ways to manage it, and it seems to get easier the older you get.
When something isn’t working, you don’t have to give up. But you DO have to TRADE up. Here are three ways to know it’s time to move on and trade up.
There’s a fine line between coping with drama and being the one BRINGING the drama. These three warning signs will help you determine if you’re adding drama to a situation, and get you to stop piling it on.
Not all problem-solving is good problem-solving. If you or your workplace keep solving problems the wrong way, it’s adding to your workplace stress, making it more likely you’ll burn out. Learn how to solve problems the right way and things will go more smoothly at work.
This week marks the 40th anniversary of comedy powerhouse Saturday Night Live. I grew up watching Gilda Radner butcher the news report as Rosanne Rosannadanna on Weekend Update, so I’ll be eagerly watching the members of the original cast return to the SNL stage.
Watching Saturday Night Live, you never knew what was coming next. Was a Hollywood starlet going to walk into the scene, dressed as a dancing hot dog? Were the comedians going to forget their lines and crack up on stage? It’s that unexpected, anything-can-happen energy that has made watching SNL so fun for 40 years. And it’s that same energy that makes Saturday Night Live the perfect place to learn how to handle a challenge.
You see, in improvisation comedy, you never know what’s coming next. The same thing is true for major life challenges. We can set up our lives according to specific plans and goals, but when a challenge drops into our laps, we can’t predict the future. The following five “rules of improv” are the perfect way to reframe whatever is confronting you right now.
Improv Rule 1: Focus on the here and now.
In improv, you are taught to play in the current moment. Don’t think about how the scene is going to end, you learn, and don’t think about whether whatever you just did was “good enough.” Just live in the moment and focus on the current action. When we focus on the here and now, we’re keeping our troubles from getting so big they paralyze us.
Improv Rule 2: Participate.
You never see an SNL actor standing off to the side, waiting for an invitation to jump into the scene. In real life, making decisions and taking action is a reminder to ourselves that we DO have power, no matter how insignificant our challenge is making us feel.
Improv Rule 3: Say “Yes, AND…”
Improv students are taught to never say “no.” When another actor makes a statement, improve actors don’t refute it. They build on it by saying “yes, AND…” So if someone says “I just got back from a visit to Pluto,” but you wanted to talk about pizza, not planets, you don’t say, “No, Pluto isn’t a planet anymore.” You say, “Yes, and I know the Plutonian residents appreciated the pizza you brought them to console them for not being a planet anymore. What kind of pizza do they like on Pluto?” In life, you can’t ignore a situation because you don’t like it. By saying “Yes, and…” you acknowledge the situation but then take steps to improve it.
Improv Rule 4: Fail Big.
Improv actors would rather fail big than succeed small. They would much rather hear the audience groan loudly over a lame joke than just smile and nod during a moderately amusing scene. Moments of challenge, while stressful, are actually the exact moments that positive changes are usually made. In your stressful moments, don’t be afraid to fail big, because big failures are the homework that lead to big success.
Improv Rule 5: Change yourself.
In the funniest scenes, the comedians create characters that have gone on a journey. They started the scene one way, and by the end they have gone through a transformation. Realize that when you go through a trying time, you’ll come out changed, and usually for the better. Look for ways you can consciously add to the change that’s happening, and don’t resent being forced to change. That personal evolution is the gift the trying time will leave behind.
Improvisation skills actually can help you manage the stressful moments in your life with not just humor, but grace and acceptance. Think about how you can incorporate the bravery of the Saturday Night Live cast into your own struggles. It’s sure to come in handy sooner or later, because – as Rosanne Rosannadanna used to say – “If it ain’t one thing, it’s another.”
Change is gonna come! In this video, learn about the three different change styles that exist, and which of the 3 Change Styles most sounds like you. Knowing what style you are helps you figure out how you can best manage change when it strikes.
This is the last of a 3-part video blog about going from 60mph to zero, which may seem like the OPPOSITE of a skill you’d want to learn, but it is important to know how to deal when stressful life situations make you slam on your brakes.