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The 3 Layers of Resilience

Is 2020 the year of resilience? As the COVID-19 pandemic continues, there’s no denying resilience seems like a topic with renewed popularity. Currently, agencies nationwide are reexamining how resilience might help them survive the coronavirus and future crises.

At heart, resilience concerns how organizations keep functioning amid change. For agencies, it’s a subject that couldn’t be more crucial as COVID-19 spreads. After all, resilience can help agencies overcome everything from viruses to terrorism.

According to Deputy Associate Director, Capabilities (ADC) Sandra Auchter of the National Geospatial-Intelligence Agency (NGA), resilience is built upon three layers. As Auchter explains, people striving to boost their resilience must work on their psychical, psychological and emotional lives.

Auchter spoke on Thursday during the NextGen Government Training Summit, an annual two-day professional development event for public servants. Here are three tips Auchter shared for becoming more resilient:

1. Manage Mental Health

Auchter described psychological resilience as the beliefs, experiences, knowledge and values people have. According to Auchter, people who understand themselves psychologically are more creative and capable of improvising. Over time, these traits make them more resilient.

“Some of this is nature, some of this is nurture,” she said. “I’m talking about all the things that make your brain work. Do all the things that reinforce your values.”

Auchter recommended volunteering, helping others and practicing spirituality as methods for elevating one’s psychological resilience. Ultimately, she continued, psychologically-resilient people treat themselves with more forgiveness.

2. Elevate Emotions

Auchter labeled emotions the second layer of resilience. According to Auchter, managing one’s positive and negative emotions appropriately refines personal resilience.

“Each and every one of these feelings will have their moment,” she said. “Emotional resilience is about what you feel and what you do with those feelings. The first tenet of these feelings is they don’t last forever.”

For instance, humor can help people navigate more difficult emotions successfully. Auchter characterized laughter as a valuable tool that helps individuals cope with tough moments.

3. Push Physical Limits

Auchter explained that acknowledging one’s physical needs – whether it is food, water or something else – is critical for directly confronting change.

“Are you physically ready for the stretching that the world will inevitably ask you to do?” she asked. “It’s all the self-care things you learned from your mother.”

Completing physical tasks, meanwhile, assists people with understanding their strengths. Auchter cited climbing mountains or running long distances as resilience-building activities.

“You’re more willing to be on yourself when you have those experiences,” she said. “It is knowing you can do anything for 30 seconds.”

Always Be Grabbing

Resilience can help anyone rise to the occasion. Even better, Auchter added, resilient people inspire imitators.

“Developing resilience in yourself allows you to transfer that resilience to others,” she said. “They can’t help but model that behavior.”

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