Master stress through building personal resilience

We know that the high-intensity retail-pharmacy work environment can lead to loss in productivity, high staff turnover, absenteeism, distress and an increased rate of burn-out.


So why is it that so many people still wear stress as a badge of honour?


The truth is that people who have a tendency to brag about being stressed or busy are typically placed in environments where failure is viewed as unacceptable. It is in these fear-based work cultures that individuals feel as though they have to ‘sprint a marathon’, and ultimately they’re sprinting straight towards a destination called burn-out.


So how can people avoid this?


The backbone of a high-performance business is a resilient workforce. In this environment, negative, destructive stress is ably shifted to excitement or calm. It is a surprise for some that resilience is a learned skill, which means you can build your personal resilience through implementing small practices throughout the day.


Resilience is built through reinforcing these four behaviours:

  • Bounce – Toughness and recovery skills in adversity and change.
  • Courage – Enthused by change and challenge.
  • Creativity – Develop talent and opportunity.
  • Connection – Humility, respect and care for others and nature.


Some of the practices that can help us develop our personal resilience are obvious – people are more likely to demonstrate the above traits if they get enough sleep and down-time, they eat well and put aside time each day for physical exercise.

For those working in pharmacy, the demands of a high-intensity industry mean that practising all of these activities on a daily basis might not always be possible. Meanwhile, when negative stress hits you, you should aim to build your resilience by implementing small tactics that can help you to master it.


Use breathing as your natural relaxant

If you are distressed or anxious, use your breath to create positive stress and calm. Always exhale first as this works to slow down your heart rate. If you have a bigger window of time, breathe deeply from your diaphragm for one minute. This will help to regulate your heart rate, bring you back to the present and clear your thinking. Sounds simple (and it is) but it’s incredibly effective.


Tip #1. When in doubt, breathe out.

Stretch yourself a little

While yoga isn’t for everyone, just five minutes of basic stretching a day will drastically improve physical and mental wellbeing. It increases alertness, relaxation, and helps reduce physical and emotional tension.


Tip #2. In the moment, breathe and stretch.

Catch those zzz’s

Chronic stress can often be related to sleep deprivation. If you find it difficult to get your eight hours of sleep, make sure you cut down on caffeine (avoid drinking caffeinated drinks after 2pm) and disconnect from digital devices in the hour leading up to your bedtime. To avoid the ‘Mondayitis’ feeling, commit to a regular wake-up time, even on your days off.


Tip #3. Never sleep in.

Catch those thoughts

Resilient people explain situations that arise with a thinking style called ‘realistic optimism’. In a sentence this is ‘today’s a challenge, tomorrow will be a better day’. This thinking style allows hope, happiness and persistence to flourish while dealing with the challenges of business, customers, suppliers and non-work pressures. Practically, spend some time during your day to mindfully ‘catch your thoughts, check for realistic optimism and, if necessary, change your thoughts’.


Tip #4 – Catch, check, change.

Reevaluate your workload

The best way to combat stress is to reassess the importance of your work demands and your ability to meet them. Divide your day into segments and allocate time for certain work tasks, time to move your body, and time for mental breaks. Take time to connect with your team to define your goals as a group each week, and ensure you’re being productive with your time, rather than simply putting in more hours.

Work demands can often lead to neglecting your personal health and wellbeing, however, in building your personal resilience, you will be able to master your stress and make your workplace a more enjoyable environment for your colleagues and yourself.


Tip #5 – Delete, delegate, prioritise.

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Stuart Taylor is the founder and CEO of Springfox, formerly the Resilience Institute Australia. For over a decade, Stuart has engaged and inspired with his workshops, keynotes and conference presentations to more than 20,000 people globally with measurable impact achieved across many organisations.

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