Across the globe, things feel pretty uncertain, but you already have a mechanism for getting through whatever comes your way – resilience. Resilience doesn’t mean you’re unflappable or immune to setbacks – things happen. Resilience is your ability to take challenges in stride and bounce back from adversity, perhaps even better than before.
As the Director of Talent for Seattle-based software engineering recruiting agency, Rooster Park, I’ve worked with many engineers to help bolster their resilience through challenging times, tricky work situations, awkward interviews and professional disappointments. I’ve learned a lot through this process, and I’ve always been really impressed by my fellow humans and how they have a knack for overcoming difficulties and making the best of a potentially negative scenario.
If you’re feeling less than resilient right now, that’s okay – there are a few simple things you can do to boost your resiliency. The American Psychological Association has identified key concepts for building resilience, and over the years, I’ve seen three approaches that have significant impact: health and wellness, positive thinking, and human connection.
Put your physical and mental health first:
Self-care is more than a trending buzzword – it really matters. Surely you have a long list of mission critical things to figure out, deal with and manage, but your physical and mental health can’t fall to the backburner. Exercise, proper nutrition, adequate shuteye, and intentional mindful moments will carry you through.
In many studies, psychological resilience is positively correlated with physical health, mental wellness, and positive thinking. Aside from the obvious benefits to your physical well-being, exercise is scientifically proven to reorganize the brain to better respond to stress and anxiety. Ever wonder why those runners look so happy, post run? They boosted their endorphins, oxygenated their minds and bodies, cleared their heads, took a break, had a change of scenery.
Finally, while I won’t caution against caffeine to help you through life’s hurdles, don’t let stress deprive your body of the good nutrients it needs to thrive. Coffee might be quicker, but the benefits you receive from a nutrient-dense meal is invaluable when it comes your mental and physical health. Work can wait – your body can’t.
Self-care, the Rooster Park way:
“I’m trying to stick to a routine where when I wake up, I do a 30-minute home workout, which is usually either cycling on the stationary bike, yoga, or a HIIT workout. I also try to eat more veggies and protein as well as get in a walk in the afternoon or evenings when the sun is still out. I find that helps my mental health as well.” – Jackie Kartchner, Sourcer
“I set up a makeshift golf-course in my backyard so I can stay active while perfecting my swing.” – Casey Hills, Recruiter
“I discovered that the ballpark bleachers in the park by my house make for a pretty good desk. I’m working from there as often as possible during the sunny days we are having here in Seattle!” – Brian Romas, Director of Business Development
“My bike is my yoga mat. It’s my meditation, my release, and my happy place. And in these last several weeks, I’ve put in some long quiet miles on some amazing roads!” – Ray Zambroski, Senior Technology Recruiter
“We’re lucky to have a nice yard, and with the weather getting lovely here in Seattle, we’re out there daily, gardening, weeding, cleaning, sweeping, and pruning. We’re also water coloring in the evenings and that’s been really relaxing, just to be in the moment painting.” – Mira Shields, Director, Talent
“While not perfect, I do my best to start and finish each day with gratitude. Not only does it help me reflect on specific things I’m grateful for, but it also helps me catch any negative thought patterns that are creeping in unnoticed.” – Dan Colleran, Director
Practice positive thinking:
When current challenges feel insurmountable, positive thinking can seem easier said than done. Especially now, when the news is filled with negative headlines, and you’re worried about your health and the health and safety of your loved ones, your neighbors, your global community.
But when you think about it, there are glimmers of hope and sparks of positivity happening across the world right now. People are coming together, united and working towards a common cause. Rooster Parkers are volunteering, helping to gather medical supplies, donating time and resources, and lending a helping hand to elderly neighbors and those in need. There are examples everywhere – you can catch videos of people joining together in celebration of their collective strength and resilience – singing from balconies, delivering essential supplies to front line workers, and uniting in solidarity and optimism.
If you find yourself unable to rejoice in these moments, that’s okay. You can be with your sadness too, accept it, give it some space, acknowledge that it’s there, and then move on. Practicing positive thinking doesn’t mean being inauthentic or pretending that everything is okay – but you do have to work through any negative and irrational thought patterns that might limit your ability to change your perspective.
The first step is to just notice what you’re feeling and how you’re reacting to external circumstances. When faced with adversity, people can tend to have an emotional reaction called pervasiveness – or a feeling that one negative situation will spark a domino effect in other areas of their life. An ominous feeling of impending doom is not where resilience thrives.
So how do you move towards a more resilient and positive mindset? Pause and take a minute (a minute is a great start!) and notice and accept your thoughts (they’re just thoughts!). Take a moment. Breathe. Check your thought patterns, ground yourself, and consider all that you’re grateful for. On a walk through my neighborhood, I noticed a sign that said: “Thank you to all of our first responders, healthcare professionals, grocery workers and sanitation workers!” It made me smile in agreement, and indeed I felt grateful.
In one report, hope, gratitude, and kindness were identified as key strengths that protected against adversities. Nurturing these strengths within yourself is critical in your journey towards resilience.
Positive thinking, the Rooster Park way:
“When I’m feeling down and in my negative thoughts, I usually text a close friend to talk it out, or play the piano/ listen to uplifting music.” – Jackie Kartchner, Sourcer
“Thinking about how lucky I truly am, and how there are many other people struggling out there always helps me to put things into perspective.” – Jordan Shaw, Senior Sourcer
“I’m making a concerted effort to limit the amount of news and other media I consume each day, and replacing it with reading or listening to audiobooks or podcasts with more positive or educational information.” – Dan Colleran, Director
“My kids help with positive thinking. Or, if I do start feeling a bit down, I will listen to some music that I enjoy and read a book.” – Brian Romas, Director of Business Development
Understand the importance of human connection:
When everything feels uncertain and you’re looking at an uphill challenge, it can be easy to withdraw from those around you and feel isolated. Even though this can be the path of least resistance, it’s counterproductive. In one report, the American Psychological Association stated that across numerous studies, a key factor for developing resilience was having supportive relationships, both with close family and those outside your immediate circle. Specifically, relationships that provide positive modeling, encouragement, trust, and reassurance.
It just takes a little creativity and intention to make meaningful connections. If you have family at home, you can break through stress or boredom, and foster some togetherness by organizing a family game night, family walks, family deep cleaning room by room (hey, we did it with our toddler and it was a big hit!) – you get the idea. If this just sounds like more stress (I get it), initiating any genuine communication is super helpful. Get on a video call with people you like or virtual coffee / beverage-of-choice meetings with friends and colleagues.
If you’re comfortable doing something like joining a volunteer group, this can be truly rewarding. There’s nothing that boosts the spirit and feeling of community and human connection like coming together to help others! My neighbor Peter has been singing folk songs on Friday nights from high up on his front porch, instilling community in a safe and socially distant way. I also find that reading articles and personal / opinion pieces written by others who are also looking for positivity and silver linings helps foster that feeling of human connection.
Meaningful connections, the Rooster Park way:
“Our whole team joins a call every Wednesday where we catch up, build each other up, and share a Dad joke or two.” – Scott Ruthfield, Founder / CEO
“My friends and I downloaded this social media app called Houseparty where you all can get on at the same time and video call while playing games like heads up, Pictionary, charades, and other fun group games. We also use Netflix viewing party where you all can watch the same show together.” – Jackie Kartchner, Sourcer
“I spend my day connecting with a new coworker – Rooster Park’s official ‘Talent Retriever,’ Penny!” – Jordan Shaw, Senior Sourcer
“I have been keeping in regular contact with the youth soccer team that I coach through Zoom calls and remote trainings.” – Brian Romas, Director of Business Development
“A fun thing we’re going to try as a family is a virtual museum tour while on a video meeting together.” – Courtney Grey, Recruiting Coordinator
No matter how daunting the challenge ahead may seem, by prioritizing your health, practicing positive thinking and mindfulness, and seeking meaningful connections – you’re setting yourself up to be your most resilient self.