How to build resilience and wellbeing over the holiday season… and beyond

Posted by The Icehouse on 19/12/2023 12:00:00 AM

The Icehouse recently caught up with Brad Hook, Chief Innovation Officer and a workshop delivery partner at the Resilience Institute. Brad offers some invaluable guidance to better prepare for a happier and healthier holiday season and expert advice on developing workplace resilience in 2024. 

How to build resilience and wellbeing over the holiday season... and beyond

It's been another challenging year for New Zealand businesses, and research by the Resilience Institute bears this out. New Zealand is currently scoring around 10% lower than the global average in overall resilience. While 18% of Kiwis are doing well and 1% are thriving, 11% are at risk with extremely low resilience, and an overwhelming 70% are feeling the pressure.

"The theme we're encountering most often currently is uncertainty," says Brad. "It’s no secret that we've been through a lot in the past 12 months. Of course, some organisations are thriving, and they come to us to learn how to build a high-performing team, but many are using this time to recalibrate, asking, 'How can we stay focused and calm despite all this change?’ 

This is the time of year when owners, leaders and their teams are incredibly fatigued and for many, the Christmas break and summer holidays can't come soon enough. So what can we do right now to develop good resilience habits at home and at work?

"Don't wait until the first day of January to start implementing positive change. Start now. There's a reason 95% of diets fail and 80% of New Year's resolutions fail by February," says Brad. 

"Rather than making grand resolutions, start small, with micro-habits and practices you can build into your daily routine that become non-negotiable. The most accessible place for people to start making changes is in their morning routine. For example, what if we prioritise going outside, getting some sunshine in our eyes, and performing six long exhalations to calm our nervous system, rather than picking up the phone and scrolling through social media or email?"

Brad explains that these behaviours provide a reliable platform from which to cultivate additional positive habits, because you can start chaining habits together. "If the morning routine works for you, add a five-minute walk. Now, we’re walking for five minutes every morning, creating a foundation of calm and resetting our circadian rhythm. This signals to the body and mind that we're ready for the day. Best of all, the momentum can spill over into other parts of life. 

"When you are calm, the immune and digestive systems – and the brain – function better. So, start relaxing yourself and creating these rhythms now; then continue them over the holidays so that you embed the habits that work for you. Just 9.6 minutes per day can lead to a 37x improvement in one year, so use the holiday to build supportive habits that will springboard you into the busyness of 2024." 

As Brad explains, tuning in to nature is one of the most influential and proven "tools" we can utilise to improve our overall wellbeing and mental health. Whether the forest or the beach is your special place, take the time over the summer to visit the great Kiwi outdoors for at least 120 minutes every week of the holidays (more if possible).

Developing energising habits can take the sting out of the dreaded first day back in January and help cultivate a positive mindset and resilience-building capabilities for the first half of the new year.

"Allow time for arriving and settling in [on the first day back]. Every yoga class, for instance, begins with a few moments to arrive and tune into your body, emotions and mind, before the session starts. So spend the first day back in the office catching up with each other, planning and creating some space, rather than just racing straight back in at breakneck speed. 

"Another tip is to gather around your collective purpose and values. That's an exciting way to start the year because although we might deal with lots of change and adversity, our purpose and values are relatively static. Identify your 'North Star' for the year. How does it make you feel? How are you going to contribute to getting there? Can you use your values as your decision-making tools throughout 2024? What will bring you fulfilment?

"It's a great way to bring the business together at the beginning of the year. We talk about centrifugal forces, pulling things apart, and centripetal forces bringing things together. Concepts like identifying your purpose and your values can pull us back together and help us align as we embark on that journey in the new year."

As Brad explains, resilience culture starts from the top. It's possible for leaders to equip their people with the skills to manage stress, put challenges into perspective, develop metacognition and emotional intelligence, and build those essential rhythms. However, you might need some guidance on where to begin and how to entrench personal and professional workplace resilience into your organisation’s daily routine. The Resilience Institute can help. 

The Resilience Institute supports thousands of organisations globally with resilience tools and training. For more information and insight, download The 2023 Global Resilience Report or meet Brad on the Resilience Podcast.

For information on programmes, workshops and business coaching services from The Icehouse, click here.

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