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    The surprising reason we aren’t as resilient as we think – and what Kiwi women can do about it

    Are you Resilient?

    If there was ever a need for resilience, it is the dumpster fire of 2020 – but although we pride ourselves on that good old Kiwi can-do attitude, it seems that New Zealanders – especially women – could use a bit of a top up.

    Interview with Jamie Ford for

    There have been plenty of studies over the last 20 years has shown that Kiwis aren’t very resilient – that’s really surprising to us! Why do you think that is, and what areas especially are we struggling with?

    This dates back to our ancestors leaving the United Kingdom for a better life here in New Zealand. They wanted to say goodbye to the uncertainty of life at the hands of landowners as well as no hope of ever owning their own plot of land.

    But on arrival, dreams were dashed, hopes evaporated, uncertainty increased, and they had to settle for a hard life.

    This caused negative thinking and has been accidentally passed on from generation to generation. We now find ourselves with a less than resilient mindset that has been normalised – and we do not notice it.

    An examination of the diaries and letters of our forebears, along with the content of today’s social media, might well substantiate this.

    As a nation, we tend to struggle with the accidentally learned habit of thinking that reasons for adversities and setbacks are:

    • Permanent – ‘it will have a long-term downside’
    • Global – ‘it will have a negative impact on many aspects of life’
    • Personal – ‘it’s my fault’

    To help combat this, I’m working with organisations like Southern Cross Health Insurance, to offer their employees science-based resilience development training – something that has never been as important as in this COVID-19 year.

    This kind of support extends well beyond the immediate positive impact on staff and business – the benefits also have a lifelong increase on peoples’ wellbeing and happiness.

    When it comes to Kiwi women, we’ve been disproportionally affected during the pandemic with redundancies – and that’s before dealing with families in lockdown and the stress of making ends meet. What are some of the best tips you can offer for those who are struggling through Covid-19’s consequences?

    It’s important for women to stop personalising the impact and remind themselves that nothing about them is redundant. It’s only the job that was made redundant.

    Start reminding yourself, and keep reminding yourself, that you yourself are not redundant. You still have all the skills and abilities, the capabilities and expertise that made you a valuable employee before the pandemic.

    In your self-talk – your internal dialogue – make sure you remind yourself of all of the external reasons for the pandemic and its impact on your life and the lives of loved ones.

    All of these things are out of your control.

    And lastly make a list of the good things going on in your life to help you focus on the positives despite the struggles many people are finding themselves with.

    Especially with working from home, the blur between home and work has been harder to separate – do you think people have actually worked longer hours than usual thanks to working from home pressures – e.g. making sure bosses know you’re working, no set home time, etc?

    Thanks to the internet, it’s highly likely that many Kiwis are working longer hours than usual. It instils an ‘always on’ culture and an expectation of immediately responding – even outside traditional work hours, and now these lines have become even more blurred as people work from home more.

    Some people are also fearful of losing their jobs, so they work longer hours so as not to be seen as dispensable.

    If possible, set up a separate working space at home – use this space for work only, and ‘close the door’ at the end of your working day.

    A 20-30 minute walk will also do wonders for ‘letting go’ of the working day.

    Another tip that works well is to intensely focus during dedicated work time as there can be a lot of distractions at home. This will help you to deliver work on time and not have to work extra hours.

    What do you think businesses and employers need to be doing better right now to support their workers?

    Demonstrating kindness and empathy is definitely at the top of the list. We have seen how successful this has been in our Prime Minister’s approach.

    It’s important that employers are willing to be flexible and adapt to the needs of employees, both in terms of getting to and from work but also the balancing act of working from home. It’s important to be mindful of the hours they’re working during this time and speak to them about it if need be.

    Finally, changing your mindset is crucial.

    I run resilience workshops with Kiwi organisations around the country like Southern Cross Health Insurance who value workplace wellbeing and supporting their people through personal and professional challenges.

    These seminars help to demonstrate exactly how much of an impact your mindset can have on your mood and your emotions.

    Using science-based concepts, such as a ‘temporary versus permanent’ mindset and not letting others control your emotions, will positively impact the way employees can manage adversities and setbacks.

    Are there any other tools you’d recommend for Kiwis to help them become more resilient in the workplace?

    • Steer clear of the people who have a negative attitude
    • Find the people whose glass is always half full and spend time with them
    • Get out at lunch time and exercise
    • Be proactive in keeping your boss informed while you work from home. This will help to increase trust and enable you to work autonomously
    • Invent ways to make work enjoyable

    Original articles:

    To find out more or to enquire about Resilient Minds workshops, courses, or coaching, email [email protected] or call Jamie on 09 414 2942.