The mental health effects of the pandemic are putting a welcome focus on wellness and psychology. However, these efforts should be linked with risk management conversations about building resilience, according to Gary Luffman, an occupational psychologist and director of think.change Consulting.
Luffman will address Airmic’s fastTrack Forum ‘Becoming Future Fit’, a live stream event set for 8 July, with a presentation entitled ‘Neuroscience and resilience’. Airmic News caught up with him a few weeks before the event to get a sneak peak at what he plans to say.
Luffman offers coaching, leadership, training, personal development services. His aim as a business psychologist is to use neuroscience to provide a practical edge for professionals and businesses aiming to build their organisational resilience – by starting with individual wellness.
“There are helpful mental and physical habits that can lead to increased resilience,” says Luffman.
The first of these is to be more reflective and self-aware of some of the basic building blocks behind individual mental health, he explains, what makes the brain tick, what fuels it, and what detracts from it.
“There are a few fundamental things that the brain needs to be on level performance, never mind punching above its weight, if brain is limping along on its default settings,” says Luffman.
Some of this is a simple matter of fuel, sleep and rest, he suggests, while noting that too many people busy with the routine of work, life, childcare and other commitments do not allow themselves the distance to reflect on, in order to change, damaging or counterproductive habits.
“First we create habits, then they create us. Unless you try to create a habit, your other habits will run the show. Typically we plough on through life but develop habits, good and bad, along the way, and stop even questioning the way we go about things,” he says.
Firstly, an exercise in self-reflection is required to address this, he emphasises. “It’s important to prod people to ask what’s the aim they’re trying for in life: is it to chug through tasks; or is it to live well, to live sustainably, and to enjoy the journey?”
Take action on what you know, he suggests. Asking what they could do differently can lead to a steer on what to do next to change some of the elements, Luffman explains. “Practice going about something differently, then reflect again on whether it worked. If not, do it differently and practice again.”
Nearly all aspects of building resilience from a risk management perspective are, at source, reliant on people, he stresses. “If you wind the clock back on all previous successes and failures in life, you will find people or a person,” Luffman says.
“The more we can do to understand what makes us tick, the better we are able to understand ourselves and other people around us, and to do more to accentuate the positives and mitigate what drags us down.”
Without this understanding, things are unlikely to change, he suggests, unless jolted by outside factors, which might lift someone up, but can also knock them down.
While it is entirely possible to wrestle back control of habitual thinking patterns at any stage in life, he also wants to catch people early in their careers if possible.
“This is a good exercise at any stage of someone’s career. However, it’s far better at the early stages of someone’s career to set up beneficial routines, processes and habits to help them grow and work in a more sustainable and resilient way.”