This week I want to share two articles about resilience. The first article discusses why some of us crack under stress while others thrive. The second article takes a look at a study that shows online resilience training programs can be effective for building resiliency in employees. Below are these articles and my thoughts on their implications.
Disclaimer: The views and opinions expressed below are those of Mark Pew, Senior Vice President of Product Development and Marketing, and do not necessarily reflect the views of Preferred Medical.
Life is full of stressors, from financial and employment to relationships and parenting. However, while some people let the stress take over, others actually thrive and grow from it. Dr. Maddi conducted a study and discovered that hardiness (personality trait characterized by resilience and the ability to cope effectively with stress) coping strategies, attitudes and beliefs are what make the difference between thriving from stress and falling to the pressure. The three characteristics that make up hardiness are challenge, control and commitment.
I had the opportunity to spend some quality and quantity time with Thomas Heitkemper last Friday (Apr 26) at the Ohio Medical & Health Symposium. Since he’s a psychologist I wanted to pick his brain about resilience and so we talked about hardiness. If you’re not familiar with the concept, check out this excellent article posted by MentalHelp.net and a Quizlet to confirm what you learned. It comes down to three attitudes/actions. Challenge (“seeing problems or stressors as challenges and opportunities”). Control (“having an internal locus of control”). Commitment (“having a sense of purpose and meaning in life”). Bottom line? “Hardiness predicts success, adaptive coping, and wellbeing.” So, as the article asks, Are You Hardy Enough? If the answer is “no” then do something about it. Today (not tomorrow or next week). You will be healthier—psychologically and physically—for pursuing it. Here’s some helpful follow-up info from Thomas:
“Hardiness has been an interest of mine for years, probably starting in high school when I read “Man’s Search for Meaning” by Viktor Frankl. A survivor of three years in Auschwitz and other Nazi prisons, he examined the qualities that enabled prisoners to survive these inhuman conditions. In part he wrote, “Any attempt at fighting the camp’s psycho-pathological influence on the prisoner…had to aim at giving him inner strength by pointing out to him a future goal to which he could look forward” (reminiscent of Nietzsche’s famous quote “He who has a why to live for can bear almost any how”). Sounds a lot like commitment and, when combined with a sense of control and the ability to view problems as challenges rather than threats, this is the foundation of hardiness. When I present this idea to patients I often use the gardening example of a hardy variety of plant, one that’s disease and drought-resistant. And it’s nice to see that hardiness and its influence on health is still being studied…here’s one article about hardiness and the immune response.”
Life throws a lot of curve balls at us in our jobs every day, and many would say that resiliency is a key factor in an employee’s job performance. The study in this article researched whether employees could build their resilience by using a brief, online intervention. The results found that employees who used this online tool a few times a week showed significantly greater resilience than those who did not. While resilience training is usually successful, it is often time consuming but this study shows that building resilience can actually be done online in just a matter of weeks.
“Resilience training, which teaches people how to cope with and recover from adversity, decreases depression and anxiety and effectively improves employees’ workplace performance, well-being and social functioning. Resilience training can also positively impact physical health outcomes tied to the stress hormone cortisol, such as heart rate, blood pressure, and cholesterol.” The answer to the question they posed? A qualified Yes. There was a 25 percent improvement in resilience. The authors self-interestedly chose their own platform (www.happify.com) but that shouldn’t disqualify the results. I know it may sound contrary to what you think an employer’s role is in their employee’s lives, and ultimately the individual needs to take the initiative, but a resilient workforce is more productive so there are some bottom-line considerations. The focus was on a “brief, online intervention” and they found that “distressed employees who used such an intervention a few times per week showed significantly greater increases in resilience than employees who did not.” Obviously, the individual needs to be open to change – habits, lifestyle, choices, attitudes – in order for it to be successful. But you never know until you try.
To read everything on my mind this past week, please visit me on LinkedIn at https://www.linkedin.com/pulse/marks-musings-may-6-mark-rxprofessor-pew/.
Until Next Week,