Career Coaching to help Overcoming adversity and stress

Overcoming adversity and stress

It’s helpful to reflect on how we can bounce back from adverse situations or stress at work. Whether you’d like to focus on overcoming adversity and stress at work, or just improving your general energy levels, this blog aims to help.

Before continuing, I like to say a little about resilience. Suffice to say, I don’t like the way this word is sometimes used.  After understaffing a department those in power may say ‘Staff should just learn to be a bit more resilient’, when it is beyond anyone’s power to cope with the high workload. I’d like to clarify that this is not what I mean when I talk about resilience in this blog post.

Firstly, I want to start with a definition of resilience:

Resilience is the ability to bounce back or adapt to a new environment.

So therefore, managing our thoughts, feelings and behaviours is key, so that we can remain open to learning and adapting throughout any experience.

Why it’s important, whatever you do 

We all need to embrace resilience, even the brightest, more self-assured people may not act in a resilient manner in all circumstances. High-achievers can sometimes be dismayed when they encounter a difficulty and their resilience does not emerge. Occasionally even a minor setback can induce a loss of confidence that can undermine your resilience.

Four sources of resilience

So how can we improve our ability to bounce back from adversity? Liane Hambly and Ciara Bomford in their book ‘Creative Career Coaching’ (2018) cite the following four sources of resilience:

  1. Physical: e.g. good health, safe housing
  2. Cognitive – ability to solve problems, reframe events, change negative thought patterns, work out contingency plans
  3. Affective – managing emotions, having a sense of optimism, focusing on what can be controlled, a good support network
  4. Spirituality (or Purpose)– having a sense of deep purpose, being part of a community with shared values.

Looking at each source of resilience more closely

The importance of the physical source of resilience can’t be emphasised enough. Are you taking the time to care for yourself (i.e. to self-care)? Think about your hours of sleep, what you eat and your exercise.

Taking the cognitive source – take time to reflect on problems and events. Routinely calibrate what success looks like and try to reframe events so that your are practising optimism and positive self-talk.

Looking at the affective source of resilience, watch to see you are not doing the following:

  • Seeing yourself as a victim
  • Overreacting to small things
  • Entertaining persistent pessimism
  • Personalising an event, i.e. personalising blame, when there may be factors outside of your control that will have had an impact

Sometimes you need to monitor your thoughts. You might be sub-consciously going off into these patterns of thoughts without even noticing it. Try to be aware of your thought-patterns. Self-awareness is always the first step to being able to change this. Once you’ve noticed you are doing this, try to reset your thoughts. This can be hard to do and you can read my blog on mindsets to give you some ideas and steps on how change them.

Finally, looking at the fourth source. Having a purpose involves thinking about what brings you joy and helps you to feel most alive. So, in a work context, exploring your skills and values (i.e. what’s important for you to have in your work life) can help here. Getting yourself attuned to your inner voice and what it’s telling you is important. Meditation and time for reflection can be key there. Another factor that can be useful is reflecting on what you are grateful for in life.

Other tips:

Avoid perfectionism – You will be exhaustively seeking the best and you’ll be unhappier with the outcome. Accept good enough, so that you can move on to the next project.

Let go of the little things – if you are in a challenging situation, allow someone else to make the trivial decisions, while you focus on the big items that can bring about positive change.

Avoid comparisons – you’ll never have the full picture of what’s going on with the person you’re comparing yourself with. You’ll always be able to find people that are richer, better-looking, happier, more successful than you, so avoid measuring yourself against others.


Fancy working with me one:to:one as a coach? I can help you to tackle adversity and stress at work. Get in touch.


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