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Navigating through uncertainty – strategies for building resilience

Resilience is one of the greatest attributes of successful people, enabling them to be positive, flexible and proactive in the face of change. In a recent brown bag, Paula Trejo-Phillips, Psy.D., a Faculty and Staff Assistance Program counselor for UCOP and UCSF, shared five steps we can all take to build the resilience we need to cope with the uncertainty of a constantly changing workplace and world.

1.  Look for opportunities for self-discovery

When faced with challenges, take a moment to look back. What strengths carried you through past challenges, and what did you learn about yourself in the process? Consider how you can develop your skills and sense of self-worth so you’ll be more prepared for the next change.

2.  Build mental strength

Catastrophic thinking, or jumping to the worst possible conclusion in the face of uncertainty, increases anxiety and makes it more difficult to cope. When you catch yourself thinking that way, step back and analyze whether there is a more productive way to understand the situation. Remind yourself of times when your darkest worries proved unfounded, and you were able to succeed at tasks or resolve problems that seemed overwhelming.

3.  Nurture your relationships

Social support, whether it’s from family, friends or coworkers, is a valuable buffer during times of stress and change. Make your relationships a priority, and seek out support if it’s lacking. Your Faculty and Staff Assistance Program can be a good place to start.

4.  Care for yourself

We all know that we feel better when we eat right, exercise, get enough sleep and make time for activities that we enjoy. Value your well-being enough to make those behaviors a priority, especially during times of change.

5.  Be optimistic

Look for the positive whenever you can. In your relationships, pay attention to the strengths others bring. After a challenging situation, focus on what went well, not on every blunder along the way. During times of transition, change “I can’t” to “I can,” visualizing what you’re capable of achieving instead of what you fear might happen.

Final thoughts

Resilience is a valuable resource, but it’s not magic. Every change requires a personal transition, and those transitions can be challenging and uncomfortable – no matter how resilient you are. Be kind to yourself and those around you during times of change, and seek help if you need it.


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