Resilience articles

Resilience is our ability to recover quickly from day to day difficulties. Resilience allows a person to cope with challenging situations and recover from adversity a stronger person.

Your mental wellbeing is about your thoughts and feelings and how you cope with the ups and downs of everyday life.It's not the same thing as mental health, although the two can influence each other. Long periods of low mental wellbeing can lead to the development of diagnosable mental health conditions such as anxiety or depression. If you're living with a mental health condition, you may experience low mental wellbeing more often, but there will also be long periods where you're able to maintain good mental wellbeing.What does good mental wellbeing look like?Importantly, good mental wellbeing is NOT the absence of negative thoughts and feelings. We all face difficult and challenging situations that cause us to feel angry, sad, overwhelmed and everything in-between. Instead, it's about being able to understand and manage those feelings, so that generally you're able to:feel confident in yourselfbuild and maintain positive relationshipshave a sense of purposelive and work productivelycope with the normal stresses of day-to-day lifemanage when things changeWhat can affect your mental wellbeing?Our mental wellbeing is often affected by big life events that we have little or no control over such as bereavement, illness, or redundancy. In these situations, it's about how we respond - our behaviours and habits - that will determine the impact on our mental wellbeing. For example, do we tend to reach out for support or withdraw? Do we assume the worst or remain open to new opportunities?It's here that our level of resilience comes into play. Resilience is your ability to cope with change and adversity. By strengthening your resilience, you're better able to maintain good mental wellbeing through all of life's ups and downs.There are also factors that influence our mental wellbeing, which we can control.1. Our relationshipsStrong connections with friends, family and colleagues help to strengthen our confidence and self-esteem.2. Our physical healthThrough good nutrition and regular physical activity, we can boost our energy levels, improve our confidence, and relieve stress. Small changes make a big difference. 3. Our emotional healthPracticing mindfulness can help you understand and manage strong emotions so that rather than feeling overwhelmed, you're able to approach difficult situations with a sense of calm and clarity. The big pictureAt CA Support, our vision is for all members of the chartered accountant community to live happy, healthy and fulfilled lives. The key to this is empowering you to take care of your own mental wellbeing. Because when you don't feel quite yourself, other areas of your life are affected too. Our services can help you balance all aspects of your wellbeing, so you can live the life you want to.CONTACT USContact us through email at casupport@charteredaccountants.ie or call us on (353) 86 024 3294 we will be happy to assist.Article reproduced with the kind permission of CABA, the organisation providing lifelong support to ICAEW members and students.

Jul 23, 2020

“I’m going to like you.We’re going to be friends.”…is what I said to my Management Accounting book, the week after the CAP1s. Coming out of the exam hall, I knew that I had failed that subject. I’d put in the time studying, but didn’t understand it, and counted on enough of the theory coming up to cover myself. But it didn’t. So each evening, after work, I’d sit down to study. Friends teased me for being such a nerd- the results weren’t out yet!As predicted, I’d failed- scoring 25%. I continued to tell myself that I liked the subject as I studied. September came, and so did the repeat. I was on holiday and had just finished a hot air balloon ride when the Partner called me with the result- 62%. I felt sky high again!The science part…I didn’t know it at the time, but I had been practising “Neuro-Associative Conditioning”, a human behavioural science developed by Coach Tony Robbins. It’s all about changing our attitudes to increase our likelihood of success.What’s your current association to exam success?You want it, but thoughts of “what if I fail?”, “I just don’t understand it!” “I’ll do it later…” might be stronger in your nervous system. To get the results you want requires more than positive thinking- you need to change the meaning you give to study and actually feel good about doing it- from your head to your heart, right down to your gut!There are no shortcuts to success, but here are some ways that you can re-programme your mind to facilitate it:1. Begin with the end in mindThink of the big picture and take time to question- why are you doing this? It might be painful to sit down and study when you want to do other things, but ask yourself “what pleasure is it going to bring to my life in the long term?”…greater security, increased opportunities, a sense of achievement?  Once you’ve done this:• Write down what it is that’s driving you.• Spend a few moments daily, before you start studying, imagining your ideal future and reminding yourself that what you do in the present, will help to take you there. • Really feel and visualise your success to get it ingrained in your nervous system. Get excited about it!2. Get familiar and get it out of the wayWe don’t like changing our habits. Therapist Marissa Peer notes that the mind instinctively rejects what’s unfamiliar to us and returns to the familiar. This keeps us alive, protecting us from things perceived as dangerous. But this approach doesn’t always serve us- sticking to the familiarity of studying theory didn’t work for me. Good news though- studies show that it is possible to make what we don’t want to do familiar to us. We may even end up enjoying it! You just have to start the behaviour. Do it before you get comfortable doing something else. By consistently repeating, “I will make this familiar/I will like you”, you will. You can choose how you feel about something- knowing this gives you control. Getting what you dislike doing out of the way by prioritising it is empowering.3. Mind your languageListen to the language you use to describe studying. Are the words “hate”, “painful”, or negative sound effects common?Switching to more neutral language makes the process far more manageable. Phrases like:“I am determined to be a success, and I am prioritising my studies for me and my future”, or“I am choosing to feel great about doing what I don’t want to do” are great for interrupting our mind from negative internal conversations. 4. Celebrate your winsFocusing on your reward system will instil the habit of doing what you like least first. Maybe this is the lack of guilt/feeling of accomplishment by getting it done? Take your breaks and give yourself something to look forward to. And remember…Nothing is wasted. All the work you put in now will help going forward. Keep focused on that promising future of yours as you sit down with those books in the present!CA Support are here to assist you and we can be contacted on email at casupport@charteredaccountants.ie or on 01 637 7342 or 086 024 3294.  There are also other video supports on mindset available on our site.Article written byCharlotte Keating is a Member and Life, Business & Creativity Coach. With both trainee and managerial experience, she established Act On It Coaching to help fellow Chartered Accountants, trainees and other professionals achieve more balance and fulfilment in their lives. To get in touch or to find out more, visit www.actonitcoaching.com or contact charlotte@actonitcoaching.com

Jul 22, 2020

When it comes to mental wellbeing, you often hear the term resilience. But what is it and why is it important? Resilience is your ability to cope with change and adversity. By strengthening your resilience, you’re better able to maintain your mental wellbeing through all of life's ups and downs. Being resilient doesn’t mean that you won't ever feel overwhelmed, under pressure or stressed. But it does mean that your behaviours, habits and emotional health allow you to handle that pressure more effectively, reducing its negative impact on your overall wellbeing. The good news is that resilience is something we can all learn. We’re all capable of establishing new behaviours and habits that promote resilience and empower us to remain calm, confident, healthy and effective in the face of new challenges. Here are 5 ways to boost your resilience: 1. Find a new perspective As humans, we have a natural negative bias, which means we tend to assume the worst about every new situation. This was a useful natural survival instinct thousands of years ago when dangers and predators lurked around every corner. Nowadays however it can mean we’re more likely to feel anxious or stressed about new situations and makes it difficult to see or make the most of new opportunities. The next time you find yourself dwelling on the negatives, ask yourself the following questions: Is there another way of looking at this situation? Do I need more information? How will I benefit from the way I am thinking/feeling/behaving? You might find that when you allow for a more positive interpretation of events, things naturally feel a little easier. 2. Get the rest your body needs Without sufficient sleep, we find it more difficult to challenge our natural negative bias. We’re also more likely to make poor decisions, be irritable and struggle with poor concentration. It’s not hard to see why a good night’s sleep is crucial for a more calm, considered and resilient approach. But it's not just sleeping that matters. It’s important to take regular breaks throughout the day. These brief pauses allow your brain space for more creative thinking, help you retain and process information and improve your focus. This clarity and productivity helps you to feel in control and reduces stress. As little as 5 minutes away from your computer or phone every 90 minutes or so will make a big difference to how you feel. 3. Fuel your brain and your body What we eat and drink can have a big impact on our resilience levels. Simple things like staying hydrated, reducing your caffeine intake and eating three balanced meals each day can help. But it’s also important to pay attention to changes in your blood sugar levels, which can affect your mood and your energy levels. Eating slow-release carbohydrates such as oats, brown rice and quinoa help to stabilise your blood sugar levels, meaning you’ll avoid the energy slump, loss of focus and irritability that often accompanies fast food and snack fuelled sugar crashes. Top tip: Dark leafy green vegetables, nuts and seeds contain high levels of magnesium, which helps to regulate the production of the stress hormone cortisol and assists with the release of GABA, a calming neurotransmitter. 4. Celebrate your success Noting down your achievements or things that have gone well and made you happy has several benefits for your emotional health. Reflecting on our successes improves self-confidence and helps us to feel positive about ourselves. Writing down your achievements can also serve as a tangible reminder of your personal strengths whenever you feel insecure about a new situation. 5. Practice mindfulness The underlying principle of mindfulness is that we can simply observe and notice our thoughts and feelings without letting them impact our wellbeing. This focus on emotional regulation and self-control is essential for resilience. With regular practice, mindfulness can help you approach new and challenging situations with a sense of calm and clarity. Article reproduced with the kind permission of CABA, the organisation providing lifelong support to ICAEW members, ACA students and their close family around the world.

Mar 18, 2020

A good job and a career should have a positive influence on your health and happiness. However, various circumstances can arise making your job a source of stress and potentially even illness.  Causes of work-related stress Work-related stress and other health issues have become a very common consultation for me in the GP surgery with a whole range of workers affected. Workload There are many factors that can cause work-related stress but 'workload' is often the biggest cause and something accounting professionals at all levels are incredibly familiar with. Tight deadlines, too much pressure or responsibility or simply too much work will certainly cause stress. Unfortunately, the lifestyle that goes with overwork is detrimental to our health; working late, missing breaks and eating on the go. All of which forgo things which can be protective of resilience and our ability to survive and thrive.  Work-life blend Work-life blend is another key issue. To be well both psychologically and physically you need time for rest and leisure outside of work. If work takes up too many hours it can rule out these protective aspects of our lives, which can lead to illness. We all need that time to recuperate, so when that balance goes amiss we suffer the mental and physical health costs. Sadly, digital connectivity allows us to stay connected to work far longer than we need to and there is an expectation to work increasingly longer hours.  Having time in a normal schedule to take care of yourself, nurture relationships and recuperate allows you to foster resilience and build stronger mental and physical health. It gives you the capacity to cope with busyness as well as stress and challenges at work. This can seem like an overwhelmingly difficult goal in the face of a busy and pressured job but opportunities to look after yourself can be created.  Building up your resilience, both physically and emotionally, can play a large part in creating less stress for yourself. Resilience is the ability to cope, survive and thrive when difficulties arise. Some of that is inherent, but resilience can also be built and developed. We know that resilience comes from positive relationships and a support network as well as certain lifestyle aspects such as relaxation, positive thinking and taking control.  Power of the micro-action Small changes in your lifestyle can amount to a big difference in your resilience. These can seem trivial – changing your commute for example or what you have for lunch, but actually they can be essential.  It is often impossible to change the big stuff when it comes to your working pattern and the lifestyle that goes with it, so exploring some seemingly small changes, could be hugely valuable. These are known as micro-actions and are easy to adopt, sustain and succeed at. Learning how to build these into your day to day routine is incredibly valuable for good emotional health.  As an example, when scheduling your week, even a busy working week, make room for the people in your life that make you feel good and spend quality time with them. This is proven to improve your mental health and reduce your stress levels.  Likewise, a proper night's sleep is absolutely vital to good physical and strong mental health. It is so fundamental to us as humans and such a mundane, inconsequential part of our routine that it is easy to forget just how important and restorative it can be. For most people, with some simple ideas and guidance, better sleep is possible and hugely beneficial as it can make you feel so much better, physically and mentally.  Building resilience is about small changes that even the busiest of us can make time for and go on to reap the benefits.  Written by: Dr Ellie Cannon Dr Ellie Cannon is the resident GP for the Mail on Sunday and Mail online but is probably most well known as the on-screen GP for Sky News Sunrise and Channel 5 news. After a decade in NHS general practice, seeing the massive prevalence of work-related ill health, she published her second book Is Your Job Making You Ill? in January 2018. She uses the ideas of micro-actions and self-driven personal changes to help combat illness and build resilience without jeopardizing a career, and is now working with select firms to help build their emotional wellbeing and people strategy. She is a headline speaker at the inaugural This Can Happen conference - an innovative and solutions-led conference for companies who recognise that staff need support to deal with mental health issues affecting them. Article reproduced with the kind permission of CABA, the organisation providing lifelong support to ICAEW members, ACA students and their close family around the world.

Jul 05, 2019

Self-compassion is the ability to treat yourself with the same care and kindness as you would a good friend who was going through a difficult and stressful time. 'Unlike self-criticism, which asks if you're good enough, self-compassion asks what's good for you, what do you need?' Kristin Neff Showing compassion to others When we are compassionate to others, we have an intention to be with them through the difficulties they are experiencing and to alleviate their suffering and stress in some way. This can often be very different to the way we treat ourselves through the challenges of life. How often have we provided support for someone we care about and yet end up criticising ourselves endlessly for our various perceived inadequacies or shortcomings. Many of us have been taught to put others first. But neglecting ourselves in order to do this isn't an effective or sustainable long term strategy without considering what we need to keep emotionally well. Maintaining the inner capacity to be there for our family, friends and colleagues is reliant on looking after ourselves well. Self-compassion means you are understanding and kind to yourself when confronted with personal failings and mistakes – after all, whoever said you were supposed to be perfect? Why we need to be compassionate towards ourselves Feeling stressed and being hard on ourselves is very common, especially in a culture which is increasingly performance and target focused. Loneliness and isolation are also increasing in our ever digitally focused world. If you are finding it difficult to manage the many challenges, threats and distractions of our modern world, you are not alone. With current figures of one in four people developing a mental health difficulty in any given year and the rising levels of distress within young people, many people are struggling to align life with their deeper values and needs. A self-critical and unkind stance towards yourself when you are going through testing times will only serve to activate the fight or flight stress response, clouding the minds ability to remain calm. Some people may feel reluctant to develop self-compassion as they might feel the notion is self -indulgent or self- pitying. But developing the ability and strength to face and manage our difficulties, without isolating ourselves from others and becoming absorbed in our own pain is the essence of courageous living. Being able to attend to your own difficulties and challenges wisely will enable you to have the spare emotional capacity to engage with others and life in a more helpful way. According to Kristin Neff there are three key elements to compassion: Self-kindness An ability to relate to ourselves with warmth and kindness. Common humanity The appreciation that we all suffer at times and you are not alone in these feelings. Mindful awareness The ability to view our difficulties in a balanced perspective so that we can keep engaging in life. How to develop emotional resilience There has been much interest in the effects of developing compassion within ourselves from a scientific perspective. Research has shown that people who score high on self-compassion: Cope better with adversities Take more personal initiative and responsibility Are less fearful of making mistakes and being rejected Are more emotionally intelligent, happier and more optimistic Take better care of themselves physically and emotionally The good news is that our compassionate self can be developed and enhanced through training and practice so that we become more attuned to supporting ourselves through the difficulties of life rather than sabotaging ourselves and making situations more unmanageable than they need to be. How to be kinder and more compassionate to yourself Be aware of your internal voice Becoming aware of how we talk to ourselves, the tone of voice we use and language we use gives us the opportunity to move from harshness to supportive tendencies. Noticing the good Being able to notice and celebrate moments of the day and our good qualities is an essential part of managing and balancing difficult times. Each day ask yourself: When have I been at my best today for someone else? What has been my best moment of today? Give yourself encouragement It is more effective to become your own internal ally and support system rather than your own harshest critic. Written by: Kirsty Lilley Kirsty has delivered mindfulness and self-compassion courses to a wide variety of workplaces during her career and is also a trained psychotherapist and coach. She has worked at a strategic level within organisations developing wellbeing policies and been responsible for developing training courses on improving mental health and wellbeing. Kirsty is committed to an integrated and compassionate approach when helping others to fulfil their potential. Article reproduced with the kind permission of CABA, the organisation providing lifelong support to ICAEW members, ACA students and their close family around the world.

Jun 24, 2019

Rejection is a regular part of life – even for those who never seem to put a foot wrong. But it can be painful too. Studies involving volunteers having their brains scanned suggest rejection activates the same neural pathways as those triggered by physical pain. This might explain why many people describe rejection in physical terms such as a slap in the face, a kick in the teeth or a punch in the stomach. Every time an opportunity comes your way, you risk being rejected. Indeed, every day most people face rejection of some form or another, whether the circumstances are professional, for example, applying for a promotion, new assignment or project, or personal, such as the break-up of a relationship. The fact is you simply can’t avoid most circumstances that have a potential for rejection. After all, few people land a job they always wanted without risking rejection. And how many of us would have loving relationships if we didn’t risk rejection when approaching potential romantic partners? But while rejection and failure are inevitable for all of us, the way you handle them – and whether or not you can learn from them – can make all the difference. Here are a few things that may help you feel more comfortable whenever you have to deal with rejection: Manage your emotions Even the most self-confident person suffers a psychological blow when they’re rejected. But while some react calmly, others may lash out at, argue with or blame the person responsible for their rejection. Think about a time when you were rejected: did you manage your emotions, or did you get angry and hostile? If you let your emotions get the better of you, there’s a good chance all that negative energy is still affecting you. Accepting your feelings may help you move on more easily than if you bottle them up. Staying calm and understanding that rejection is a natural part of life may also mean you’re more likely to get constructive feedback that could be helpful. Also try to avoid making assumptions about your rejection, and resist the temptation to talk negatively about it to others such as friends or co-workers. Remember you’re not alone Being rejected can make you feel isolated. But it’s something that happens to all of us. Most writers for instance have to deal with professional rejection regularly. Even the most successful authors have had more rejections than they’d probably care to remember, before going on to have a string of best sellers under their belt. One of the world’s most popular writers, Agatha Christie, spent years receiving rejection letters before her first novel was published – and that’s just 1 of many examples from the literary world (the business world is littered with similar stories). Learn from failure Try to remember that every rejection is an opportunity to learn something or for self improvement. Professional rejections can help you to take a step back and ask yourself if your career is going the way you want it to, or whether you should try making a change. A rejection may also lead you to question whether you could do things differently the next time you face a challenge. Consider asking for feedback about your rejection too. Your aim isn’t to change the other person’s mind about you, but to learn why you weren’t successful in that particular situation. If the rejection is a professional one (such as a job application) you could try to schedule a meeting with the recruiter to talk about the qualifications and job skills they were looking for. Keep things in perspective You may be able to make yourself more comfortable with rejection if you make yourself aware of your chances of success. Experts have looked into the number of people who receive replies after applying for an advertised job. And the figure may be lower than you imagine. In fact studies show that as little as 2% of applications receive responses. If you keep this in mind, a rejection just might seem more tolerable. Stick at it Finally, just because you’ve been rejected it doesn’t mean you shouldn’t keep trying. So learn from your rejections, make any necessary changes or adjustments and challenge yourself again. Chances are you’ll achieve a better outcome in the end. Having a growth rather than a fixed mindset means you may have a more positive attitude towards failure and rejection. Article reproduced with the kind permission of CABA, the organisation providing lifelong support to ICAEW members, ACA students and their close family around the world.

Jun 11, 2019