The Oxford English Dictionary defines the noun resilience as:
So resilience is the ability to bounce back from difficulties. Resilient people don't dwell on their failures; they acknowledge the situation, learn from their mistakes, and then move forward. It is a skill that can be learnt and developed; however some people are naturally more resilient than others.
Working as a pharmacy professional can be both physically and emotionally challenging. The pace of change, workload, staff shortages, unreasonable expectations of some patients and professional requirements are just some of the issues we may face daily. By building your resilience you will be able to rise to these challenges and continue to provide the best possible care for your patients, rather than becoming overwhelmed and burning out.
This page explores stress, what you can do to manage your response to stressful situations and build your personal resilience, as well as signposting you to a number of resources which may be of use to you in caring for yourself in times of difficulty.
Stress is the feeling of being under mental or emotional pressure. Stress increases hormones in your body to help you deal with pressures or threats. Stress in itself is not a bad thing. In fact, as you can see from the diagram below, we all need a certain level of stress to allow us to perform at our best.
Yerks-Dobson law based on Yerkes and Dobson, 1908
It is when that stress becomes repeated or prolonged that it can become distress and will start to have unhealthy effects on the body. This is illustrated by the three-stage general adaptation syndrome (GAS) model which was proposed by Seyle in 1936.
Stage 1: Alarm stage
This is your initial reaction to stress. Stress hormones are released to prepare the body for the natural ‘fight or flight’ response. These hormones provide increased energy levels to allow the body to respond to threats.
Stage 2: Resistance stage
In this stage the hormone levels have peaked and, once stress has passed, there is a period of renewal when hormone levels return to normal but the body has reduced energy.
When stress is prolonged or repeated, problems can start because there is not enough time for the body to rest and renew, and the body will then move into the final stage.
Stage 3: Exhaustion stage
This may also be called collapse, overload or burnout. In this stage the stress levels stay up so the body cannot recover fully. This is when you are the most vulnerable.
Signs that you have reached this stage include: low mood and irritability, little interest in work or dread of going to work and thoughts about leaving your job.
As you can see, the ideal is not to get past Stage 1 of the model, so reducing your reaction to stress is key. This can be done by building your resilience.
Being resilient doesn’t mean going through life without experiencing stress or worry. However, being resilient means being able to cope with these emotions and with the effects of stress. As mentioned before, resilience is not something that we are born with, but it builds as we develop our emotional intelligence.
So how do we develop our resilience?
According to the American Psychological Association, all of the actions below will help you to build resilience:
There are a number of tools you can use to explore how resilient you are. Both of the tools listed below are free to access, the first one is quicker to complete, while the second provides you with an in-depth report at the end.
The resiliency quiz is a short online quiz that scores your resilience and then takes you through some common characteristics of resilient people.
i-resiliencetool – this online questionnaire generates a detailed personal resilience report so that you can understand where you draw your own resilience from and how to further develop it.
Now that you have covered the basics of stress and resilience and had the opportunity to reflect on you own resilience, you can use the tabs at the top of the page to explore the topic further and find resources to support you with your own wellbeing.