Resilience for Frontline Staff
Stress is never a good thing. If fills our heads with worry and anxiety, it stops us thinking clearly and makes us miserable.
Pressure, on the other hand, is important.
Pressure is the “demand to perform”. We are all under pressure all the time, but levels go up and down. For many people at the moment, the pressure feels full on.
Pressure gets turned into stress by thinking.
To stop pressure turning into stress we need to manage our minds. This can take some practice, but it is doable and well worth the effort!
“If you’re going through hell – keep going.”
How to keep a clear head
Come to your senses – literally! Remember, that all our senses (hearing, sight, touch, smell and taste) only work in the present moment, and the present moment is the only one we can manage or influence.
If your mind is running away with you, here are some suggestions:
- Stop and listen. Focus only on what you can currently hear.
- Pick an object and notice how it feels: warm, cold, rough, smooth…
- Look around you and describe what you can see – it is probably best to do that in your head rather than out loud!
By doing these things you have brought your mind in to the present – you are not “absentminded”.
Absentmindedness is like falling asleep at the wheel of your car at 70 mph – not a great idea!
Think about the situation you are currently in as being like rapids in a river – very fast moving and potentially very hazardous.
The rapids represent an increase in demand to perform, or pressure.
To successfully navigate rapids we need a clear head, not a head full of stress.
When our heads are full of “What if… ” or “If only… “, we can’t think clearly.
With your mind present you can choose what to focus on
Remind yourself “What’s Important Now” (WIN). It might be a work task, a conversation you should be paying attention to, even the washing up… Whatever it is, if you give it your full attention your mind can’t run away with you.
Control your attention with compassion and understanding. When you mind runs away from you it can make up horror stories. Treat it like a toddler who keeps trying to do something naughty – you might try a gentle “That will do” or, if your mind is getting really carried away, a full blown “Stop it!”, but whatever you say, say it kindly.
Don’t add to your worries
AVOID SOCIAL MEDIA – it is full of fodder for horror stories!
When you need information, get it only from reputable sources.
Keep a sense of perspective
If something is worrying you:
- Ask someone else’s opinion.
- Try listing all the different ways of seeing the same situation.
- Advise yourself as you would advise a friend.
- Think about how you might see the situation if you weren’t involved in it.
- Thank about how you might see the situation looking back on it in six months’ time.
All these techniques can help us keep our balance.
Follow official guidance to minimise risk
As frontline staff you are used to that – you are already very experienced at risk assessment and risk management.
Manage your energy
- Physically – imagine your body is a finely tuned engine. How are you going to keep it in peak condition? Think about eating well, good sleeping habits, hydrating, exercising regularly.
- Emotionally – negative emotions (stress, anxiety, worry, frustration) are very energy inefficient. Expressing your feelings in words or writing can help you “decompress” and let go of negative emotions. Doing things that are emotionally nourishing can “refill the tank”.
- Mentally – we are having to think and behave very differently at the current time and that can be exhausting. We are likely to have a lot on our minds. Make sure you power down regularly and give your mind a rest.
- Spiritually – this is about your core values and what’s most important to you. Make sure you really notice when you feel good about something you’ve done and have your mind fully present when you are doing something you enjoy, are with people you love or simply having a bit of time to yourself.