In the 2007 World Health Statistics Report, the World Health Organization identified depression as one of the most significant global public health problems. World wide events such as recession, the effects of climate change, and terrorism events and alerts have increased the general level of anxiety throughout the world. Employers and managers face, on a daily basis, bad news and its psychological impact on employees.

How can we prepare people for psychologically stressful events and resilient recovery? Are some people just naturally more resilient and optimistic? Psychologists and brain researchers such as Louis Cozolino, author of The Neuroscience of Human Relationships: Attachment and the Developing Brain, argues that optimism and resilience can be developed.

Part of the problem, is that in Western Society, we have a belief in and dedication to, the ideal of individualism and the notion of "going it alone." Colozino and others have argued that as our brains develop as children, the presence of healthy, intimate and nourishing relationships allows us to trust others, regulate our emotions, maintain positive expectations and utilize our emotional intelligence in moment-to-moment problem solving. In contrast, if those areas of the brain are underdeveloped by the lack of nourishing relationships, we are more likely to have problems controlling depression, negativity and fear.

Positive early relationships as childhood help to determine how resilient we will be as adults. Froma Walsh, a professor of psychiatry at Chicago University, argues in her book, Strengthening Family Resilience, that strong interpersonal connections in families early in life play a crucial role in shaping the neural connections in our brains. She says that shared belief systems in the family become a powerful influence. Family resilience encompasses 3 areas: making meaning of adversity; maintainng a positive outlook; and finding purpose beyond self, family and community.

Psycholoigists know that a narrative--or mental story--that we construct to expalin our adversities to ourselves and others has long been recognized as an important step in overcoming obstacles in traumatic events. When the narratives are told in a way that creates meaning and self-evaluation, it contributes to resilience.

Martin Seligman, author of Learned Optmisim, argues that a realistic view of one's strengths and weaknesses through a flexible optimistic perspective, builds resilience. Part of this mental state is the belief that the causes of bad events are temporary and that the future will be better.

Another dimension of optimistic resilience is the issue of blame. Accepting responsibility for the situation you find yourself in, rather than allocating blame to others, is a powerful coping mechanism which builds resilience. Resilient families rarely resort to blaming, personal attacks on others or scapegoating.

Walsh argues that the most powerful force for building family resilience is finding purpose outside oneself by having a moral compass or set of beliefs that help us get through tough times. Faith and spirituality can overlap that moral compass, as can having a mission or goal bigger than oneself, argues Dennis Charney and Charles Nemeroff, in their book, The Peace of Mind Prescription.

So what does all mean for employers and managers? They would do well to pay attention to the research on resilience, and learning how to build and maintain employee resilience during these turbulent times.

Author's Bio: 

Ray Williams is Co-Founder of Success IQ University, and President of Ray Williams Associates, companies located in Vancouver and Phoenix, Arizona, providing leadership training, personal growth and executive coaching services.