There’s a lot of talk about resiliency these days. I think it can be misunderstood sometimes – the thinking being that to be resilient, we must be “tough” or “stoic” or “power through” tough times (the phrase “suck it up buttercup” comes to mind). As a certified resiliency practitioner, I can tell you: resiliency is NOT about being tough or sucking things up. In fact, it’s quite the opposite.
Resiliency is really a process and a way of approaching challenges and adversity. It’s about getting to know yourself – what depletes you and what energizes you – and consciously checking in with yourself so that you can manage your energy reserves. It’s a way of approaching challenges – a mindset and a skill set that you can practice and train in yourself over time.
Foundational to resiliency is monitoring and managing your physical, mental, emotional, and spiritual energy. I think it’s fair to say that our mental energy – our mental health – has been challenged over the last year as we have spent more time isolated from our friends and communities; perhaps feeling anxiety for the health and welfare of loved ones, or feeling pulled in every direction balancing child care, virtual schooling and work demands. The truth is: we all have fluctuations in our mental health and I think this past year has given us all pause to think about this more consciously. If there is one good thing to come out of the past year, I think it is a deeper understanding of our mental health – and the conscious experience of how it can fluctuate.
This past week, I was working with a number of clients to build out personal resiliency plans for next few months. The range of experience was varied: with some people feeling depleted to the point of burnout, to others whispering into the screen that they feel guilty to admit that things aren’t so bad for them – that they’re actually enjoying the shift to more reclusivity. There were others who, after a lifetime of “sucking it up” through challenging times, felt like that just wasn’t possible anymore. Others spoke about newly discovered meditation and journaling practices and were shocked and delighted at the positive impact it was having in their lives.
Wherever you fall within the rage of experience right now, there are 4 questions I want you to consider to help you proactively manage your mental health and build resiliency for the challenges you may be facing:
- What do I need most right now? I want you to genuinely ask yourself this question, and pay attention to the answer. Is your body aching and in need of a stretch? Are you deeply thirsty for a glass of water? Are you craving connection with a friend? Do you need to close your eyes for 15 minutes? Do you need fresh air and a 5 minute walk around the block? Do you need to yell into a pillow behind a closed door to release some pent up anger or frustration? Give yourself that one thing. And try to ask yourself this question daily.
- What mindfulness practice will you commit to? Notice I didn’t ask whether you would commit to a mindfulness practice but what mindfulness practice you will commit to. Mindfulness helps your mental and emotional health. Full stop. Whether it’s meditation (I recommend the Headspace app to find the right meditation practice for you), journaling (be it bullet journaling, morning pages, or a gratitude journal), or mindfully walking the dog or washing the dishes (really paying attention to the sights, sounds, smells, and textures around you), I suggest choosing one and committing to it for the next 30 days
- Where do you need to focus your attention? Reflect on your to-do list. Look at it with an editor’s mind. What is absolutely essential? If you are feeling depleted and close to burnout, pare your list down to only the essentials, and choose the hours of the day that best enable you to manage and deliver on those essential tasks.
- Where can you cut yourself some slack? This is related to question 3 above. What on your to-do list is a nice-to-do, but not essential? Unless it brings you joy, levity, or is a mindfulness activity, you have full permission to chop it from your to-do list.
By moving through these 4 questions – and really using them to guide and inform your day – I suspect you’ll find yourself feeling more replenished, more restored. Pay attention to the actions and habits that best support your energy reserves. And if you’d like to learn more about strengthening resiliency – for yourself personally, or for your team or organization, reach out at any time.