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Resilience - good for success and coping with setbacks

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Throughout your life, you’ll face challenges, whether in your personal or professional life.

Some challenges can lead to positive outcomes (like a promotion); others can be more difficult to overcome (like failure in exams or assignments). Resilience is an important life skill, which can help you handle adversity and thrive inside and outside the workplace.

You may be naturally resilient and change may not affect you. On the other hand, if something unexpected happens, it could throw you off track. Building resilience and managing your response to change could be the answer.

What is resilience?

It’s being able to withstand stress and cope with problems and setbacks. This means having an ability to learn from experience and to come back stronger. Rather than letting negative problems get in their way, resilient people use their resolve to create a positive outcome.

Psychologists have identified factors that form a resilient person, among them are: a positive attitude, the ability to regulate emotions, and the ability to see failure as a form of helpful feedback.

How to become more resilient

To build your resilience you need to address all elements of your wellbeing, both physical and mental. We list 5 ways to do this.

1. Mindset is key

The worst way to manage change is to avoid it and bury your head in the sand. Recognise that you have a choice. You can choose how to react (in a positive or negative way) and whether you should accept this situation.

Making no choice is a choice in itself, allowing other people or events to decide for you.

Remind yourself of your strengths

2. ‘Be’ resilient

A key characteristic of resilience is an understanding that change and setbacks are a part of life.

Resilient people view difficulty simply as a ‘challenge’. They look at their failures and mistakes as lessons to be learned from, and as opportunities for growth.

While we cannot avoid these, we can remain open, flexible and willing to adapt to change. Self-esteem plays an important role in recovering from difficult events. Remind yourself of your strengths and be confident in your ability to respond and deal with the setbacks you’ll encounter.

3. Exercise

Evidence shows that physical activity has a massive benefit on mental health.

Making time for it 2 or 3 times per week will help you feel healthier and happier in yourself, and give you the energy to tackle issues head on. This is key to do it when you’re learning, as you’re managing your stress levels, and the expectations of others, while soaking up new information.

If you’re feeling stressed and think nothing is going in, try 30 minutes of physical activity and then come back to your studies later. You may find this break improves your concentration,productivity and makes you feel calmer when you start again.

Feeling well-rested improves energy levels

4. Sleep

Another aspect you can focus on when building resilience is your sleep pattern. Feeling well-rested improves energy levels, concentration and mood. If sleep is something you struggle with and don’t think you can do without, try creating an evening routine.

You could cut out screen time an hour before bed, avoid heavy meals within 3 hours of going to sleep, reduce your alcohol intake or reduce caffeine consumption after 3pm.

5. You are what you eat

You can easily adapt your diet to increase resilience.

It has been proven that some foods can reduce symptoms of depression, anxiety and stress.

For example, low levels of zinc are associated with anxiety (which you may experience during exam time). Eating more cashew nuts can address this, while magnesium, found in sweet potatoes, can help you relax.

Making sure you get a minimum of your 5-a-day, reducing your caffeine intake and cutting down on alcohol will all help to improve your wellbeing.

This blog is a joint collaboration between Kaplan and CABA, the charity supporting the wellbeing of chartered accountants and their families, drawing on their experience and expertise.

For more information about how to ‘Boost your resilience’ visit the CABA site.

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