Resilience, A Dirty Word

When you hear the word resilience, what do you think of?

Lately, I have seen several social media posts stating that people never want to hear this word again. Most recently I saw a posting from a previous work colleague (I’m old, retired). This person is a nurse, a very good nurse, who has been working throughout the pandemic.

I can only imagine the way that the term, resilience, has been used. My guess is that it has been somewhere along the same line as ‘suck it up buttercup’. Not good. To my mind this is bullying. You cannot tell someone to be resilient. At least not if you appreciate your workers, not if you value the work they are doing, not if you want to keep them, and if you want to give them any kind of acknowledgment for a job well done.

My focus is on nurses and other healthcare workers. I do know that there are many other ‘front line’ workers who are in the same situation.

Just the idea that we call these people ‘front line’ tells us a lot. ‘Front line’ is a war term. Are we at war?

If we want anyone to be resilient, we need to know and understand what we are asking and what the term means. The term has many similar definitions. I don’t like a lot of them. Probably because I have learned the HeartMath™ definition. Their definition isn’t different, it is just specific. HeartMath™ defines Resilience as

“…the capacity to prepare for, recover from and adapt in the face of adversity, trauma, or tragedy.”

Resilience is more than ‘bouncing back’. Resilience is more than putting your own needs aside and pushing through to the detriment of your health. I don’t want to point fingers or accuse anyone of not caring, but I do know in our healthcare systems that the expectation is exactly that – put your own needs aside and care for everyone else. That includes patients, families, and coworkers.

I remind managers, leaders, or whoever is in a ‘ruling’ leadership position if your workers become burned out then ill, they are not going to be able to care for anyone and will leave you short-staffed.

As a retired RN I have years of experience that taught me that if I wasn’t on death’s doorstep I had better be at work. The guilt was laid on “you don’t want to leave your co-workers short-staffed, do you?”

I am hoping that one thing we have learned from the pandemic is – if you are sick – stay home. That should always be the case, pandemic or not. If workers are pushed to work when they are not well, they will only become sicker and must take more time off and quite possibly pass their illness on to their colleagues. Thus, a vicious circle of illness, keep working, increased illness, keep working, share your illness with your coworkers, who then are off sick, those working are overworked, become ill, but must keep working and it just keeps going on.

So, let’s look at what is needed to truly promote and encourage resilience. Warning: If you do not value the well-being of your workers, use your discretion, you might not want to read this information. It is not suitable for non-caring employers, managers, or leaders.

The day-to-day stressful events that healthcare workers and other ‘frontline’ workers are faced with affect their resilience. You cannot tell workers in such a situation to ‘bounce back’, ‘you need to be more resilient’. The worker needs to be in control of their health, their energy – which is depleted with stress – and affects their physical, mental, and emotional health.

Unreasonable expectations, lack of resources to provide the needed steps and support to deal with the stressors will only lead to extensive problems, unhealthy, and unhappy workers. Maybe employers don’t care whether employees/workers are happy or not, but if they don’t care it is going to come back and bite them on the ass. (Yes, I am aware of what I am writing here). This is no time to be taking a non-committal, ‘beating around the bush’ approach.

Our healthcare and other ‘front-line’ workers deserve better. I encourage employers to take the steps to support, help, and guide all employees in developing ways to prevent, cope with, and overcome the stressful events, overwork, and fatigue that are overwhelming them and be able to live another day.

Emotions drain energy. Emotions (think of what they are – happy, sad; encouraged, discouraged; energized, drained; enthusiastic, indifferent; and the list can go on – I hope you are getting the idea) have the capacity to drain or recharge our energy. Which would you prefer for your employees? I hope you want to see their energy recharged.

As a Certified HeartMath™ Coach/Mentor, Trainer and retired RN I am passionate about seeing my colleagues treated well, coping well, and being supported, and provided with all the tools they need to do their jobs and to remain healthy. Those tools include the necessary PPE, support, enough sleep time, breaks, nutrition, and techniques that are easy to learn and implement to help them cope with the stresses of these extreme times.

Hierarchy – CEOs, managers, supervisors, and all leaders also need these things, even if they think they do not – you are not superwoman or superman. I know you are also experiencing incredible stress. One way for you to lessen your stress, decrease your burnout and illness is to learn and share techniques and strategies to cope with these unusual times. Yes, you learn and share.

Allow enough time for you and your employees to get adequate sleep – that is the first and very important step. Next, find the necessary tools for you and your employees to recharge your energy – nutrition, fresh air, and appropriate activity (being on your feet for 12-hours doesn’t count), ways to relax, ways to renew and recharge the inner battery.

In the long run, these things will not cost you, they will likely save you money. During these times of increased work and stress, long programs are not the answer. What are some quick, easy to learn, and remember techniques that can be used on the go? They exist. I can help with this – and your nurses, doctors, pharmacists, unit clerks, nursing attendants, lab technicians, respiratory technicians, housekeepers, EMTs, grocery store clerks, and truckers or any of those in the positions that must continue to work during these times deserve to have these tools.

Additionally, for those not on the ‘frontlines’ who no longer have a job to go to, they deserve these things as well. Are their former employers willing to learn and share coping mechanisms? Why not? There are ways.

Parents working from home and doing homeschooling are also under enormous stress. And how many people are suffering from the isolation that has been imposed? Everyone deserves to know ways to help them cope with our changing times. Resilience strategies can be learned.

Give me a shout and let me know what you need. I can work with you, regardless of your financial situation. No one should be deprived of opportunities for good health because of a lack of funds. With a personal message to me, we can chat to determine what you need and what we can do together.

I wish everyone struggling at this time all the best to cope and come through to the other side with minimal trauma. I am here for you if you want some guidance and help.

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