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Building resilience: It’s more than a stroll in the park

By Henry Clare, LGcomms Future Leader, Islington Council 

Last week, my colleagues and I decided to embrace the sunny weather (where did that go?!) by holding our weekly catch-up meeting in a local park.

At the time, it felt like an opportunity to get our shades on, top-up our step counts, and enjoy some birdsong (and talk about important work-related issues, of course!).

It wasn’t until later that week – when psychologist and public sector communicator Dr Hayley Lewis hosted a session with our LGComms Future Leaders cohort on resilience – that I realised the true impact of what we’d done during that meeting.

As Hayley explained, a 2015 study from Stanford University showed that spending just 10 minutes in nature can significantly lower our heart rate and reduce the stress hormone.

In an industry that seems to constantly operate at 100mph, these stress-busting activities – whether it’s fostering positive connections at work, practicing mindfulness, or embracing your strengths – are like gold dust.

That’s not to say that stress is a bad thing. Indeed, too little stress can lead to “rust-out”, and a lack of motivation.

But, the result of too much stress is burn-out, which carries with it physical and emotional exhaustion, detachment, and feeling constantly overwhelmed. Basically, it’s not nice!

So, striking that balance and building our resilience is crucial.

Among the many, brilliant things I took from Hayley’s session is that resilience is not a personality trait – it’s not something that some people naturally have, and others don’t. It’s more like a reservoir, that needs to be topped up when it’s drained by the stresses and strains of the world of work.

There are many ways that we can top-up our resilience, to ensure that we hit the Goldilocks-esque midpoint between rust-out and burn-out – and the one that resonated most with me from Hayley’s session was taking the time to reflect properly.

The pace of work in a public sector communications role can often feel overwhelming – especially when we’ve moved straight from a global pandemic into a cost-of-living crisis.

One of the tips from the session was to take some time in our most stressful moments to reflect on how we’re feeling, why we’re feeling it, and how we can view the situation differently.

That can also extend to taking some time at the end of each day to pause, and reflect – about what you’ve learnt during the day, what you’ve achieved, and what your most important priorities are for tomorrow.

Ultimately, resilience isn’t just a nice-to-have – it’s essential for maintaining our wellbeing and performance. So, let’s continue to take the time to top-up those resilience reserves!

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