Resilience. It used to be such an inspiring word to me. Being resilient meant I could navigate curves in the road with a fair amount of ease. I caught and lobbed back the curveballs of life quite easily. Even when faced with life’s most difficult moments, I was eventually able to draw on the resilience I’ve long carried inside me and move forward.
We hear the word a lot now – like it is the magic anecdote that will save us all.
But there is a bottom to the resilience bucket. Because resilience is not a personality trait. In an article published by the American Psychological Association, it notes that “…resilience involves behaviors, thoughts, and actions that anyone can learn and develop.”
If I can just…get through this hour, get to the weekend, get some rest, fill in the blank – this is not resiliency thinking. Thoughts like this indicate we’ve gone into survival mode which creates high levels of stress, cortisol, and impacts our overall wellbeing. Most of us have spent the last several years dropping into survival mode at times, and sometimes for long periods of time which is very draining.
We can only go to the resiliency bucket so many times before we’ll find that we’ve reached the bottom and there’s nothing left. Here are some tips that have helped me to rebuild and restore some of that resiliency:
Honor the feelings. Before we take action to address something that isn’t working, it’s important to honor the feelings. It can be upsetting, frustrating, or exhausting to deal with ongoing stresses during these difficult times. “Things are overwhelming right now for me.” “I need a break.” “I feel so stressed.”
Acknowledge the extremity of the circumstances. It’s time to get real about the situation. We are living through unprecedented times and extended periods of facing a lot of unknowns. Yet, it’s often expected that we be performing as if it is business as usual. Well, it’s not. It takes heroic efforts to shoulder our responsibilities, do our work, and live our lives during a worldwide pandemic. More than ever, leaders need to recognize, acknowledge, and support their teams. And, we need to do that for ourselves as well.
Say no more often. Our bandwidth may not be what it has been in the past. For thoughts, actions, projects, and relationships that are draining, do what you can to reduce or eliminate those things for the time being.
Say yes more often. To fill up our resiliency bucket, say yes to things that energize you and that you value. Recognize that adding in things you enjoy is a way to help you to be able to continue to take care of your responsibilities from day to day.
Do something you love every day. Find one thing you love and consciously spend a few minutes including it in your day. Maybe there’s a song that lifts you up or a comedy show that makes you laugh or a place you like to walk where you feel more at peace.
Be patient with yourself and do what you can to start refilling that resiliency bucket.