5 steps to Building your Resiliency Muscle
Have you noticed how we tend to spend our time focusing on what’s going wrong? While it had it's purpose in the past, these days, it can actually hold us back.
Have you noticed how we tend to spend our time focusing on what’s going wrong? Something did not go as planned, we said or did something we regret, someone disappointed us, somehow the change or success we did achieve doesn’t quite make us feel as good as we had hoped.
It’s human nature. We’ve evolved over the centuries to remember those things that went wrong so we can avoid them in the future. However unfortunate, nothing bad ever happened from missing a beautiful sunset. But, forgetting that someone looked at us funny, or how we felt when we forgot an important deadline, or how we didn’t quite live up to an expectation … those things get locked in our memories, and if we’re not careful, they can become our go to thoughts in the face of adversity – I’m just not good enough, I can’t get through this. These thoughts deeply affect how resilient we are in the face of adversity.
Mirriam-Webster defines resilience as:
1: the capability of a strained body to recover its size and shape after deformation caused especially by compressive stress
2: an ability to recover from or adjust easily to misfortune or change
To me, resiliency is a muscle that we need to consciously workout on a regular basis.
I think we can all relate to the ‘compressive stress’ and the current ‘misfortune’ in our world. Parents are struggling with working from home, online schooling, and financial strain. Our children are struggling with online schooling, missing their friends, and missing out on just being a kid. Our teachers are struggling with online schooling (seems there’s a theme here), connecting with the kids, keeping variety in their lessons. Our front line workers are missing their families and concerned with balancing worry over contracting the virus with being present and focused for their patients. We’re ALL struggling with missing the connection we took for granted in the past. And this list is nowhere near comprehensive.
How can we overcome our circumstances to move beyond them and into calm and dare I say happiness? Here are just a few things you can try:
1. Move your body - Sounds simple, but according to Harvard’s Daniel E. Lieberman our ‘overriding inclination toward laziness actually comes from our hunter-gatherer ancestors, who were burning more calories than they were able to ingest in their pursuit of food, and so conserved energy whenever they could.’ Lieberman says we need to either make physical activity more fun, more like play, or somehow incorporate it into our environment so we have to move.
I know for myself, the right song changes my entire disposition in a heartbeat, and I can’t help but move along with it. There is certainly no lack of research on how exercise improves our mental health. In the face of adversity, moving our bodies releases feel good hormones and gets us out of that fight or flight mentality so we can creatively problem solve and feel more resourceful. As Alice Walker said “hard times require furious dancing”. Sound advice don’t you think?!
HARD TIMES REQUIRE FURIOUS DANCING! - Alice Walker
Photo by Johnny Mcclung on Unsplash
2. What are your strengths – Sit down with your cup of tea and make a list. We often have a hard time coming up with a list for ourselves. If that’s you, think about what the people you love would say. Are you a good artist, loyal, brave, good at math, good at telling jokes, considerate, creative, calming, silly, hard working … make a list of at least 5 things either you love about yourself, or other people love about you. What would your Grandma say? What would your best friend say? What would your favorite teacher say?
Keep that list by your nightstand and look at it every morning and evening. Add it to your phone with a reminder to look at it every day. Add to it as often as you can. You will be surprised to find that everything you need is already inside of you.
3. Practice kindness. I know I’ve talked about this one before, but it’s just so good for our minds, hearts, bodies and souls, it bears repeating!
4. Stop to notice your breath. Breathe in for 5, hold, and out for 5, hold. When we’re stressed and anxious, we are actually thinking about what might be. Noticing our breath brings us back to the present moment … the only place we can really observe our breath. Taking a few conscious breaths grounds and calms us.
5. Make a conscious choice to invest your attention on improving your own well being. It’s easy to spend a lot of time trying to control things that we really can’t. At the end of the day, we can’t WILL other people to change, but we can make take actions to influence situations. Try drawing 2 intersecting circles. On one circle list the things you can control and on the other list the things you cannot control. At the intersection, brainstorm some actions based on your strengths that you can take to influence your situation. Then give one of them a try.
Remember to smile, to laugh and to love.
Promise me you’ll always remember you’re braver than you believe, you are stronger than you seem, and smarter than you think.
– Winnie the Pooh
With love and gratitude,
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