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How professionals can reduce stress and increase resilience

There are four key processes of resilience that professionals must focus on to overcome challenges, in order to reduce stress and thrive as healthy and happy workers.

How professionals can reduce stress and increase resilience
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  • Contributed by Ezekiel MacNevin
  • May 02, 2019
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As a registered clinical psychologist and executive coach of holistic psychological wellness, Sleiman Abou-Hamdan has dedicated his career to helping professionals overcome the multifaceted challenges of their business – and life in general.

But he takes it a step further, guiding his clients to not only survive, but thrive in the face of adversity and professional hurdles.

“Essentially, my life-long drive has been to understand, how do people grow from challenges? How do people grow from adversity? And what makes us more resilient in some situations and not others?” Mr Abou-Hamdan asked.

Personal growth is enmeshed and synergized in “symbiotic relationships with work, fitness, career, social [and] spiritual resilience,” he explained.

“It’s the practical methods that we know work to help people thrive through challenges and actually grow from it.”

Mr Abou-Hamdan’s overall goal is to train professionals to implement daily habits that can boost their resilience and overall wellbeing, as they navigate the realms of business and personal growth.

Four processes of resilience

Mr Abou-Hamdan preaches four key processes to reduce stress and upscale personal resilience over the long term.

“So, they are the physical, emotional, mental and social... resilience processes that [professionals] can utilise to help them fight through these challenges.”

Physical resilience

Some physical resilience activities include mindfulness-based practices, Mr Abou-Hamdan explained, including simple breathing exercises “to get the body relaxed to overcome that stress”.

Something as simple as breath work, “taking as little as three minutes, three times a day” to notice the movement of the body with each breath, in and out, can be extremely effective.

Setting reminders or alerts on a smartphone to do three daily breath work exercises can be an effective way to ensure this goal is achieved.

Mental resilience

“And then, keep moving up through the body to the mind, looking at what are some mental activities that they can do to set them up for success and to enable them to thrive through the adversity?” Mr Abou-Hamdan asked.

He continued: “That could be as simple as noticing the opportunity in a situation… [by] adopting a growth mindset approach to the situation. So what can I learn from this? How can I use all my strengths to thrive through these challenges?”

According to Mr Abou-Hamdan, professionals could practice mental resilience by utilising strengths such as humour, in order to make light of a situation, particularly in conversation.

Other options for mental resilience include “engaging the mind to enhance the cognitive or mental function”.

“So things like doing a crossword, or learning a new language, or whatever it might be to enhance that mental capacity.”

Social resilience

Mr Abou-Hamdan added that social resilience is also key, as humans are wired for connection with others.

“As we get stressed, as we get reaction to a fear response… the mind goes through a fight-flight response, and the body is producing the cortisol and the adrenaline, the stress chemicals.”

Mr Abou-Hamdan continued: “However, the research is telling us that instantaneously and simultaneously, the body is also producing oxytocin, which is the mend and befriend neurochemical, so we are wired for connection under stress.”

It is important to leverage this “inherent ability to connect under stress” to access social support, in order to achieve personal growth and resilience.

“For example, [connecting with] their friends and family to boost that social resilience. As they do that, their oxytocin levels will increase, which decreases the level of stress and anxiety that they’re facing,” Mr Abou-Hamdan added.

Emotional resilience

Then, drawing focus on the body around the chest and stomach area, Mr Abou-Hamdan explores emotional resilience.

“So, it’s about understanding how they’re feeling in that particular situation, and emotional intelligence is one of the most important skills for leadership. That involves emotional awareness.”

He continued: “What are they feeling at that particular moment? Emotional regulation, how can they regulate that anxiety to take it down from high level down to [a] manageable level, like 40 to 50 per cent intensity.”

Utilise uncertainty to reinvent the self

According to Mr Abou-Hamdan, it is pertinent for professionals who experience self-doubt in their personal and professional pursuits, or struggle to change their approaches towards growth, to reinvent themselves by utilising their strengths.

Equally important is the ability for professionals to address the issues in their lives head on, in order to expedite the changes required of them and geared towards success and wellbeing.

Mr Abou-Hamdan asserted that people can utilise uncertainty to thrive, by tuning in to the inner workings of their mind, body and emotional responses to outside stimuli and the interconnection of these three realms.

“So physically, what would be very helpful is to manage the stress and the anxiety and the fear response from these recommendations by self-regulation.”

Mr Abou-Hamdan continued: “What I mean by that is understanding what helps them be calmer. What can help them regulate their heart rate, their physiological responses to the stress?”

Contributed by Wellness Daily 

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