By Jo Twiselton,
The speakers at the recent 2019 CIPR National Conference, ‘Preparing for the Digital Future’, gave the audience lots of food for thought, covering areas from trust to ethics and reputation to name just a few. For me, the over-riding message was of more big change on the horizon.
With this in mind, in the CIPR Health Group session my colleague Alix Nadelman and I focused on ‘Building Resilience for the Future of Work’, sharing practical information with delegates. Based on our B.E.S.T solution, we provided participants with tips and ideas to help them build their own resilience and awareness of when they are being their best self or when pressure is having an impact.
As we know from the results of the State of the Profession Report 2018/19 and other research findings published this year, the topic of mental health and wellbeing is high on the agenda for PR and communication professionals. We’re pretty sure that the rapid rate of change in technology is one of the potential issues behind this.
Building Resilience in four key ways
Our focus was a brief overview of our B.E.S.T. solution – four key areas that we believe help to build resilience and wellbeing in individuals and more importantly in the workplace. For us, resilience sometimes gets a bad rap, with ‘an ability to bounceback’ often used as a descriptor. We prefer to use the definition from ‘Mind’ which explores more around adaptability in the context of our mental wellbeing.
“Resilience is not simply a person’s ability to ‘bounce back’, but their capacity to adapt in the face of challenging circumstances, whilst maintaining a stable mental wellbeing. We believe resilience is something that can change over time and that we, as individuals, have the power to change it.”
As in every session we run, we began our workshop with a brief mindfulness session, helping participants (and us) to ground or prepare ourselves before we begin. We then gave an overview of each area of B.E.S.T:
B – Brain and body. In this aspect, we considered how our thinking can affect our body and so impact our resilience and wellbeing. Our mind can be very tricky and be both critical and compassionate (with a leaning more towards the critical). Much of the work that Alix and I focus on is around developing our compassionate mind – and specifically, being more compassionate to others and to ourselves. This is a growing area in business and was a subject raised by CIPD CEO, Peter Cheese in his opening words at the conference.
E – Emotion. In this area we explored more about emotional intelligence and building our emotional awareness and regulation. We also introduced the concept of the Three Circles – Drive, Threat and Soothing which help to develop our emotional awareness and regulation. This model has its roots in the neuroscience of how our brains control and maintain our emotions and the work of Professor Paul Gilbert in the field of Compassion Focussed Therapy.
- The Drive System – This is what keeps us motivated and literally drives us forwards. It gives us positive feelings to help guide, motivate and encourage us to seek resources we need to survive. We often feel excited when we are in this system, which can help us achieve. However, there is a fine balance here – constantly being in Drive can sometimes tip us over into Threat.
- The Threat System – This is the state where we move more into fight, flight or freeze (self-protection) and it can be more inhibiting than positive. In evolutionary terms, threat evolved as a protection system and our brains give more priority to dealing with threats than to more pleasurable things.
Typically, in today’s world most of us spend the majority of time in Drive or Threat.
- The Soothing System is where a sense of safety and kindness is created, and this can often help us to restore our balance. This is the area of focus to develop our compassion.
These different states can activate different hormones in our bodies e.g. cortisol, endorphins, dopamine, further demonstrating the link between our minds and our bodies.
S – Social Support. There is growing evidence that a sense of community, being part of something bigger and caring about others is fundamental to maintaining and building our resilience and importantly self-esteem. This element is a significant factor in improving workplace wellbeing.
T – Time out (in all its variations). We briefly covered a few aspects of Time Out, including how we can take time to consider our responses to things that happen to us. In this context, an example I often use is our response to emails – we can sometimes find ourselves in an email argument, just because we didn’t pause before we pressed send.
Taking action and moving forward
Finally, we finished by asking participants to make a commitment to something that they were going to do differently as a result of attending the session. This took the form of a pledge card which we invited people to complete either in the room or shortly afterwards.
Our experience shows that making a commitment – either by speaking out loud or writing things down, can really help to embed change.
Building greater awareness of when we are being our best selves – or not – and introducing some simple wellness hacks into our everyday life can really help us develop our own resilience toolkit. What can you do to build your resilience and be at your B.E.S.T?
Jo Twiselton Chart.PR, MCIPR (www.twistconsultants.co.uk) is a change and leadership coach, specialising in communication, engagement and wellbeing. She is a member of the CIPR Health Group, focusing on mental health and wellbeing. Alix Nadelman (www.candoitnow.co.uk) is a professional certified executive coach, facilitator and trainer.