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How to build resilience with high intensity thought training

You’ve heard of HIIT training for your body, but did you know you can also use high intensity training for your mind? Using this method, you can build mental agility quickly and efficiently.  

10th Feb 2020
MD TalkOut
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Resilience is a learned behaviour that governs our physical actions, relationships and mental health. It can help us manage future adversity and give us the strength we need to bounce back when stressors head our way. When resilience is low, however, it can have the opposite effect, making us feel overwhelmed and as though we can’t cope.  

Most of us don’t take the time to analyse or reflect on our thoughts and feelings, which makes it difficult to recognise unhelpful behaviours or thinking patterns that might be causing our resilience to be low.

In the workplace, if stress isn’t managed and people don’t feel supported, then finding resilience will be more difficult. With stress and resilience being so closely interlinked, it is vital that employers invest in training and development that looks to build resilience, in order to have a healthy and productive workforce.  

HITT – a workout for the mind

Our mental health and emotional wellbeing are on a continuum that can fluctuate throughout a day, a week, month or year. Certain situations or stressors can cause our mental wellbeing to dip. Extensive research has shown, however, that it isn’t the situation itself that impacts our wellbeing, but rather the individual’s emotional response to it.  

We are all unique, and we all differ in how we react to stressors or challenges. Each one of us has been moulded by our past experiences and has learned to behave or respond to situations in our own specific way.

High intensity thought training (HITT) helps to build awareness of unhelpful thoughts, gives us the skills to challenge these thoughts, and ultimately develop a more realistic perspective, or ‘helicopter view’, of a situation. By training ourselves to think differently and in a more balanced way, our resilience will start to build and we’ll be left with a clearer view of others, the workplace, and the world around us.

What does a HITT session look like?

Most of us don’t take the time to analyse or reflect on our thoughts and feelings, which makes it difficult to recognise unhelpful behaviours or thinking patterns that might be causing our resilience to be low.

Combining evidence-based and practice-based learning, HITT sessions explore individual workplace adversity and stress, ways to minimise impact, and tools to re-train the brain by considering harmful thinking behaviours and exploring strength analysis.

So, what does a HITT session in the workplace involve in practice?

Step one – think about what resilience is and why it's so important to have in the workplace.

Step two – take inspiration from success stories where people have faced adversity and have found the strength to bounce back.

Step three – consider why we need resilience and how resilience increases wellbeing and boosts mental agility.

Step four – understand the impact of resiliency in the workplace on productivity, stress, emotions, and job satisfaction.

Step five – be mindful of how our early experiences, the environment around us and the people closest to us shape our resilience.

Step six – draw from cognitive behavioural therapy to explore and build awareness of unhelpful thinking styles, and how maintaining negative thoughts prevent us from managing future adversity.

Step seven – build resilience by exploring your:
a. Awareness (building awareness of thoughts, behaviours, physical feelings).
b. Control (learning to control emotions and the way you respond).
c. Perspective (considering experiences from a more realistic viewpoint).
d. Strengths (recognising what you do well and building from there).

Step eight – how resilient are you? Build awareness of your resilience level; notice what you are doing that makes you resilient, and the warning signs to spot when your reserves are running low.

Step nine – understand the impact of speaking out and dispelling the myths around what makes someone resilient. For example, there can be a misconception that resilient people ‘just get on with it’ but we know resilient people are actually those that know their limits, talk about how they are feeling and ask for support when they need it.

Why should I consider HITT in the workplace?

Having a mentally agile workforce is key to the success of any business, and resilience is increasingly being recognised as an important factor in the workplace. Resilient people have a greater ability to handle the demands that work can place on them, they are more motivated, they embrace change, they are flexible, and they can bounce back when the day throws them a curveball.

With three quarters of British workers saying that they have felt anxious or depressed because of stress caused by their job, it is essential that employees take the necessary steps to boost resilience in the workplace and give employees the support they need to be able to thrive at work.

Providing training and giving your team the regular opportunity to challenge their behaviours will create positive change, not only in their own lives but in the workplace too. Through HITT, it is possible to build resilience and with a bit of time, investment, and practice, it’s something we can all learn to have.

Interested in this topic? Read Resilience at work: the building blocks you need for focus and productivity.

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