Building Resilient Teams : The Window of Tolerance

resilience

The importance of resilience in the workplace becomes especially clear during the times of crisis. Resilience is a factor that is common in people, teams and businesses that succeed even during tough times.

What exactly is resilience?

According to Psychology Today, Positive Psychology and numerous other publications, resilience is a quality or a trait that allows a person facing a challenging and stressful situation to quickly recover, overcome it and grow from it.

What does it look like in the workforce?  

Resiliente employees are more likely to have a positive attitude and outlook. It comes easy to them to see negative feedback as a helpful direction rather than a personal judgment. They can remain calm in stressful situations which helps them to think creatively and find solutions. Finally, they are more likely to stay motivated and engaged.

Resilient people form resilient teams and businesses. According to Harvard Business Review, these teams believe in themselves and in each other. They understand their role in the business and how they contribute. They feel safe and trust one another enough to be able to focus on innovation and creativity, even in the times of adversity.

How does one become resilient?

We would like to introduce you to the concept of the window of tolerance.

The window of tolerance is this mental space within which we feel grounded and calm. We’re able to engage and work with others effectively, we can focus on tasks put in front of us, think creatively and perform on a high level. 

However, stressful situations (whether it’s at work or in personal life) can push one out of this state into either hyper or hypo arousal. This is a natural way our nervous system behaves: it notices a potentially dangerous situation and it moves into a state of arousal. The aim of these states is to protect us by quickly identifying and neutralizing the danger, by escaping it or by avoiding to feel its impacts (we do that for instance by zoning out).

A person that is in a hyper arousal might be more irritable and experience more chaotic thoughts, while a person in hypoarousal might feel unmotivated, tired and have difficulty to focus. 

At this point, it’s important to highlight that stressful situations may or may not be objectively stressful. For one, having a meeting with their boss might be stressful because of what they experienced in the past and what they imagine might happen. Someone else might consider stressful not being able to complete their project within the time they committed to. Personal issues such as a child being ill or having guests staying over might also be a source of stress.

We all experience stress, it’s a part of life. Our ability to move from this state of arousal back into the window of tolerance is what’s known as resilience. Resilient people can quickly move between these states. They have internal and external resources that help them to find inner peace, become more grounded and focused, even during stressful times. 

The good news is that we all can widen our window of tolerance and become more resilient.

How to widen the window of tolerance and build resilient teams

There are numerous techniques that help to expand the window of tolerance and develop our resilience. The main principle behind it is to develop a wide set of skills and resources that help us self-soothe, calm and ground down. Our favourite tools to achieve that are mindfulness, yoga and meditation. (Though these are not the only things you can do).

Mindfulness

Mindfulness - be here now

Mindfulness is a practice that is aimed at being present in the here and now. While we’re in the moment, the past experiences and expectations have a significantly smaller impact on our minds. Rather than operating in an automatic mode based on our past or future, we can evaluate situations more clearly and objectively. Being mindful is a matter of practice that can be learned through regular meditation. However, there are plenty of other methods and exercises:

  • Mindful eating (raisin exercise)
  • Full body scan (being present within your body)
  • Mindfulness of surroundings, breath and thoughts
  • Breathing practices

If you’d like to bring mindfulness classes (online or offline) to your office, drop us an email at hello@corporatehippies.ie and we will send you more details.

Yoga

office yoga

One of the benefits of yoga is that holding the physical poses, controlling breath and practicing concentration during regular classes lead to expansion of the window of tolerance and help to develop resilience. 

There are numerous ways to introduce yoga into your workplace: 

  • There are chair yoga classes, gentle restorative and relaxing practices and more dynamic and powerful flows that help to undo the impact of sitting at a desk for 8h a day.
  • The classes can be online via Zoom or offline in your office space.
  • You can opt in for classes in the morning, before or during working hours, during lunchtime or even in the evenings. You decide on the time and space.

If you’d like to know more about workplace yoga classes, drop us an email at hello@corporatehippies.ie and we will send you a brochure with details.

Meditation

online meditation for remote workers

Regular meditation practice increases our awareness and trains our mind to be more present and focused. As such, it builds our ability to face stressful situations, it develops our resilience and boosts our productivity.

As in case of mindfulness or yoga, there are numerous ways to practice meditation. If you/your team have no previous experience of meditation, you can use apps such as Headspace or Insight Timer for short and free introduction courses and guided meditation sessions. To make it a team experience, you could bring meditation teachers into your office for onsite or online classes and workshops.

If you’d like to know more about meditation classes and workshops, please drop us an email ate hello@corporatehippies.ie and we will send you more information. 

Final Piece of Advice

self-care

Having a good self-care routine is an important part of resilience. For each of us, self-care practices will look different for each of us. They may vary depending on days, seasons, and our personalities. Some things you can try out include: taking baths with essential oils, full body massage, spending time with friends, going to bed early to read, enjoying a cup of hot chocolate in a peaceful environment, going for a walk in nature or taking an exercise class.

If you’d like to bring a workshop on “developing the resilience” into your office, please drop us an email at hello@corporatehippes.ie and we will send you details on what the workshops entails, its objectives, structure and costs.