How can you grow from a traumatic experience?
A stressful experience can cause a person to become more resilient – having a positive response to a terrible situation.
So for an organisation it’s not the tough times that cause employees to be damaged, its the way people behave in response to the stressful event.
How tough times can turn into an opportunity for growth
Watch the video to understand why not all stress is necessarily bad, how difficult events can prompt personal growth and what organisations can focus on to help people emerge from tough times better off than they were.
Hi, Andrew from SACS.
Welcome to video number two in our eight video sequence on psychosocial stress.
The first video was all about psychosocial stress, it’s nature and what damage it does.
But in this one we’re talking about a thing called post-traumatic growth.
The fact that people often grow from bad experiences. Bad experiences don’t have to be of their very nature damaging.
Examples of post-traumatic growth are things like parents with very ill children.
You’re a parent and your child becomes very ill and when the child finally recovers what’s been discovered often is that the parents have a better relationship with that child but sometimes even a better relationship with their other children or people outside the family.
So stress can be helpful in that sense.
Another example is health epidemics.
Research has shown that when people go through health epidemics they actually sometimes change their behaviours for the better, and not just in terms of physical wellbeing, things like cleanliness.
They often focus more on psychological wellbeing.
And certainly I think the Covid era has occasioned a boom in interest in wellbeing and psychosocial risk across the world.
That’s been a positive outcome that’s come from that.
The steeling effect
Also, you get a steeling effect.
And the steeling effect is where people’s exposure to stressful experiences causes them to be more resilient.
Now, resilience is not generated by solving people’s problems.
Resilience is generated by demonstrating to people that they can solve their own problems.
So when we protect people from stressors, we have to be very careful to ensure that we are not robbing them of the opportunity of being more resilient.
I’ll have more to say about that later in this video sequence.
Here’s what we know about post-traumatic resilience.
This is where people recover from things like post-traumatic stress and actually are better off after than they were before.
And what do I mean by better off?
I mean happier, I mean less anxious, less depressed.
So bad experiences don’t have to damage you intrinsically.
It comes down to a couple of things.
It comes down to what you focus on.
It comes down to the interactions that you have with other people.
And one of the things I’d say about organisations is that if an organisation sails into tough times, it’s not the tough times that tend to cause people to be damaged, it’s the way people behave in response to the tough times.
So if you are in an organisation that sails into tough times and people pull together and support each other, well, in fact, it may well be that your resilience and your wellbeing is going to increase.
If on the other hand, people turn on each other and begin to bicker and fight, then you may well find that your levels of resilience and wellbeing decline.
So post-traumatic growth is a genuine effect.
In the next video, we’ll be talking about signs of damage.
How do you identify whether people have been damaged by the stressful experiences that they’ve experienced?
Join us in the next video to find out what the key markers are, but perhaps more importantly, how you can seek those markers, how you can inquire of people to find out how they’re coping.
Watch the next video in this series to find out more about Management of Psychosocial Risks:
And watch the previous video here:
And if you’d like some help with promoting psychosocial wellbeing, contact us about our Wellbeing Survey.