Building and Strengthening Resilience
Feb 22, 2021
Resilience is a word you may have heard quite a bit since the pandemic hit, however, many people don’t fully understand what it is, why it is so important, and what they can do to build or strengthen it. Resilience is defined as, “the capacity to recover quickly from difficulties; toughness”. In this article, I am going to explain what resilience is, and I will also provide some concrete steps you can take which will help build or foster your resilience.
As I mentioned above, resilience is the ability to recover or “bounce back” from difficulties. In this last year, we have all experienced so many challenges. While we all got hit hard with these challenges, there are some people who have used this time to grow personally or professionally, get healthier, do things they never had time for, and improve their lives overall. Other people got hit hard, and they never got back up. They continue to focus only on the hard things, the loss, and the struggles and they have essentially been “stuck”, or even moved backwards in their lives for the last year.
The good news is that we can build and strengthen resilience by managing our mindset and our daily actions. One thing that is important to know is that our brains will always search for the bad things first. It will always be scanning for danger, things that will potentially hurt us both mentally and physically, things that will cause us to become uncomfortable, and/or things that could cause us to fail. This pandemic and the last year in general have sure brought us a lot of things to be concerned about and because of this, if you are not intentional about how you manage your mind, you could find yourself living in an ongoing state of worry, fear, anxiety, hopelessness, or sadness.
In addition to our brains always looking for the worst-case scenario, how we take care of our physical bodies and our daily actions matter as well. As humans, we tend to do better with structure, routines, and when we are feeling physically strong and healthy. Combining the proper and intentional management of our minds, with the management of our physical bodies and daily routines, can help us both build and strengthen our resilience.
10 Tips for Building and Strengthening Resilience.
- Be aware of, and limit what news you consume. It is good to be informed and aware of what is happening in the world, however, watching and hearing the same negative information over and over has an adverse impact on your overall wellbeing. Set a time, consume what you need to, and then disconnect.
- Make and nurture positive connections. Be thoughtful about who you are surrounding yourself with (including virtually). I am sure you have heard that you are the sum of the 5 people you spend the most time with. If you spend time around people who are negative, judgmental, mean spirited, or hopeless, that will factor into the equation of how you are feeling and showing up for your life. There are many online communities where you can experience positive, uplifting connections if you don’t have them in your “real” life. Check out my Live your Best Boss Lady Life Facebook group HERE if you are looking for inspiration, positivity and connection with uplifting women.
- Notice your thoughts and change them if needed. We have thousands and thousands of thoughts each day. If we allow our thoughts to run without trying to manage them, guess what will happen? They will be focused on the negative things, and the potential negative things that could be happening. They will hand us the worst-case scenario over and over. However, when we take time to notice our thoughts, and how they are making us feel, we can choose to control them and change them, rather than allowing them to control us. A great way to learn how to better notice and manage your thoughts is through the practice of Mindfulness Meditation. Just five minutes per day can have a positive impact. For information about how to do this effectively, get my 5 Minute Mindfulness Meditation Guide HERE.
- Practice Gratitude. When you practice gratitude consistently, it will start to change how your brain operates. By forcing it to see the good every day, over time, it will be more likely to see the good things on it’s on, rather than only seeing the potentially threatening things. Every day take a few minutes and write down a few things that you are grateful for. They do not need to be big things. They can be small things like being grateful for the sun shining, for hearing a great song, for a nice dinner, for a warm bath…really anything. What is important is that you connect with the feeling of being grateful when you are writing down what you are grateful for.
- Embrace change. Our lives will always be changing, however, when we try to resist this, we live in a state of frustration, fear, anxiety, or hopelessness. Instead of fearing change or assuming that change is “bad”, embrace it and view change as something that brings hope and new possibilities. Instead of thinking, “what bad things can come as a result of this change”, consider, “how can these changes improve my life?”.
- Get enough sleep. Most people do not get enough sleep and are not aware of how negatively this impacts their lives. Sleep is not only a time for our bodies to rest but also, it’s the only time when our minds can fully rest and reset. Your mind needs this opportunity to recharge and when you don’t allow for it, you cannot function at your optimal level. Adults need seven or more hours of sleep per night to get all the restorative benefits of sleep.
- Physical movement. Physical movement is just as important for the mind as it is for our physical health. To be as resilient as possible, you need to be as healthy as you can possibly be, both physically and mentally. Incorporating some form of physical movement into your daily routine, even just twenty to thirty minutes (or less to start), will help you build or strengthen resilience.
- Practice deep breathing as a means of managing your mind and your physical response to fear, worry, anxiety, stress, and low mood. Taking ten or more deep breaths will physically slow down your nervous system. To do this, try sitting and taking a deep breath in while counting to 4, hold your breath while counting to 4, and then breath out while counting to 8 (or less if needed). Repeat this 10 times.
- Eat healthy. You may question what this has to do with resilience so let me explain. In addition to physical health being important for your overall ability to build and strengthen resilience, what you eat impacts how you feel on a day-to-day basis. If you eat foods that weigh you down and make you feel sluggish, you are less likely to show up in a way that allows you to take advantage of opportunities, see the positive things, and have a brighter outlook on life. In addition, if you eat foods that results in spikes of energy, followed by dips of energy, you may experience stress, worry, and anxiety, followed by a low mood and/or sadness. Eating healthy, whole foods, helps us feel consistently energized and calm inside. This type of eating will also help to eliminate any “brain fog” you may be experiencing.
- Take care of your physical environment. Just as our human connections and who we surround ourselves with matters, the environment we surround ourselves with also matters. If you live in an environment that is cluttered, disorganized, and/or dirty, it will be hard to maintain a positive and energized outlook about life. However, when your physical space is clean, organized, and taken care of, you will feel like your life in general is more organized.
If any of these are areas in which you could use some improvement, I challenge you to consider making small changes. Trying to incorporate new behaviors is best when done slowly and one at a time. Start with one, do it for a week or even a few weeks until you become used to it, and then add another one. Building and strengthening your resilience is something that will benefit you for the remainder of your life.
Live your best boss lady life!
Karen Vincent Solutions
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