Winter is coming: How to build resilience before the cold

A female employee sits an top of a mountain enjoying the view after building resilience during the climb.

The winter months leave many people feeling lethargic.

Your employees may be eager to stay inside and hibernate. Many dread the seasonal challenges: scraping ice off windshields, navigating traffic delays, and struggling to keep warm. And many others fight the persistent feeling that something’s just not right.

Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD) is often to blame. The symptoms include low mood, loss of pleasure in regularly enjoyable activities, feeling sleepy all day, and more.

Although scientists haven’t pinpointed the exact cause of SAD, many theorize it’s a result of a lack of sunlight in the winter. Darkness prompts melatonin production—making people feel sleepy. It reduces serotonin—making people feel depressed. And it disrupts circadian rhythms—throwing inner clocks into disarray and wreaking havoc on overall wellbeing.

For your employees to bring their best selves to work every day, they need to feel their best.

LifeSpeak experts are here to help you and your people build resilience to better manage winter’s challenges. Below they’ll explore what resilience is and isn’t. Then they’ll explain how employees and employers both play a role in building employee resilience.

What is resilience?

In her LifeSpeak video series, Stress Mastery and Building Resilience, Dr. Nicole Loreto explains that resilience is not a personality trait. Rather resilience is the capacity to adapt to life challenges and stressful situations.

“It can mean that a person can recover from an illness, misfortune, and adversity,” Dr. Loreto says. “Everyone has the capacity to build resilience.”

That’s good news! However, resilience doesn’t last forever. It’s a muscle that must be built over time. Like a muscle, it doesn’t get stronger if it isn’t used.

In other words: resilience is a journey, not a destination.

Dr. Loreto encourages people to find the positive in every situation. Positive thoughts, she says, lead to positive emotions and confident behavior. The opposite is true for negative thoughts. To be resilient, employees need to be the coach of their thoughts, practicing positive self-talk.

“Resiliency is an outlook on life,” Loreto says. “Decide how you want to live your life, how you want to overcome challenges, so those challenges don’t dictate you.”

As Dr. Loreto says, a positive mindset is the first step toward building a resilient lifestyle.

Next our experts will explore exactly how employees can cultivate a positive mindset, before examining how employers can support employees in becoming more resilient.

How employees become more resilient

“Highly resilient people have the ability to look at a scenario and find the positive as opposed to focusing on the negative,” organizational wellbeing leader Laura Pratt says in her LifeSpeak video series Absence Management.

For example, take two employees who are going to experience a change in team or leadership in the workplace.

The less resilient employee will dwell on the potential issues that could arise from the change. They might worry or stress over having to work with new people.

The more resilient employee will look at the situation and embrace the opportunities to meet new people and work on new material.

Being resilient is about keeping a hopeful and positive attitude by focusing on the things that are within a person’s control. An employee might not be able to change how long they have to sit in traffic each morning, but they can choose to spend that time in a way that nourishes their wellbeing.

How employers can build employee resilience

While employees focus on their mindset, employers should implement simple strategies to support them.

Resilience can be tested anywhere, but organizational wellbeing leader Laura Pratt notes that challenges are more evident in the workplace because that’s where people are expected to be most productive.

“The workplace should be there to provide the support and make sure their employees aren’t being harmed through their day-to-day interactions that occur within the workplace.”

Employers have access to resources that support their employees:

  • Employee benefits carriers and EAPs often have interactive wellness websites that can help employees manage their own mental health and engage with relevant tools, like a BMI calculator, nutrition planner, or smoking cessation support.
  • Managers play a crucial role in supporting employees—especially if they notice employees struggling with a particular issue. As a result, they should complete training to navigate sensitive conversations.

Importantly, resources like these are available at little to no cost to employers.

“What it really just takes is an investment in time to inventory the resources that are available,” Pratt says, “to talk about, or think about how you want to promote them within your workplace, and to make sure that your managers have those resources at the tip of their fingers when they’re having their interactions with employees.”

Looking for more resilience support?

These are just a few ways employers and employees can work together to build employee resilience and create healthier, happier workplaces.

LifeSpeak features over 2,300 micro learning videos designed to help anyone improve or maintain mental health and wellbeing.

Our experts are passionate doctors and educators and cover a wide breadth of topics including stress, depression, nutrition, physical wellness, DEI, and more. The LifeSpeak platform is available anytime and anywhere to support your people whenever and wherever they work.

Learn more about how LifeSpeak can help you take care of your people here.

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Book a demo today.