Building Physical Resilience – How You Can Bounce Back from Stress
Updated: Dec 10, 2021
Your overall health and well-being are critical to building your resilience to stress at work.
Have you ever snapped at someone and, on reflection been taken aback by your reaction? Perhaps you were hungry, sleep deprived or even hungover? If that conversation had happened a few hours later or the next day, might you have been in a better place to respond in a more constructive way? The fact is, how much you have slept or what you have eaten (or not eaten) can undermine your emotions during difficult times.
Resilience building involves looking at these factors and how they have affected you, and using this to improve your stress management in the future.
Most people can recall a situation where their decision making or interaction with others has negatively been affected by how they are physically feeling. That moment where you snapped, is when you failed to ‘cope’ with the situation you were faced with.
Small Changes for Physical Resilience
The good news is that there are small changes we can make to our everyday lifestyles that can have a real difference in how we cope with daily stress and anxiety.
Here are some tips for how you can shore up your physical resilience, training yourself to improve stress management so you can remain level-headed when it matters most!
1. Prioritise sleep
A good night’s sleep is as important as a healthy diet. We literally cannot live without sleep – it is the chance for our body to recover and reset. We now also know that the brain literally detoxes during deep sleep – the glymphatic system flushes waste from your brain, including amyloid plaques connected with Alzheimer’s disease.
During busy periods, sleep is often compromised or insomnia can set in. If your slumber is not up to scratch you may want to consider implementing a sleep hygiene routine. This should include: no screens for an hour before bed, no screens in the bedroom, ensuring your bedroom is not too warm, and avoiding stimulants during the afternoon and evening.
2. Keep your emotions under control with good food
What you eat can play a key role in resilience building and combating stress. Meals high in refined carbohydrates and sugary foods can provide a short-term spike in energy, but as that easily digestible glucose is quickly drawn into your cells, you are likely to experience a dip in blood sugar within a few hours. At this point (usually around 3pm), you are likely to feel tired or agitated and look for a quick fix – often in the form of coffee or something sweet.
During busy or stressful periods, don’t skip meals or eat on the run – it is the most important time to watch what you eat. Choose wholegrains, good quality protein, healthy fats and plenty of vegetables to keep you fuller for longer and resilient to stress. Try avoiding those sugary snacks which can have a negative impact on your mood and energy levels.
Nourish your body and it will reward you with plenty of energy.
3. Rethink your Quick Fixes
You might think that stimulants like caffeine, alcohol and sugar can help you to deal with stress or fatigue, but in reality, they contribute to keeping your system activated and diminish your ability to cope.
Caffeine in particular, can set off the stress response, raising your blood pressure, blood sugar and heart rate. Turning to coffee or energy drinks for a pick-me-up has only very short-term benefits. Caffeine can interrupt sleep, increase cravings for sugary foods and reduce your appetite for wholesome meals.
Similarly, while many turn to alcohol to help deal with stress and insomnia, it also has a stimulatory effect on the body. At Wiser Working, as part of our resilience training activities, we use technology that measures heart rate variability, and it is evident that even a few evening drinks can dramatically interrupt sleep, reducing your ability to recover and build resilience for the next day’s challenges. If your work week is looking particularly stressful, it might be an idea to limit the amount of alcohol you are taking in.
Building resilience to stress and workplace stress management require a multi-faceted approach.
Making some small tweaks to your daily routine can start to build your physical resilience – keeping your energy levels up and your mind clear.
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