Resilience Lost. Energy Found.
“We are all operating on the edge of our emotions right now,” said Sue Tomney, CEO of the YWCA in Calgary. I sat up straighter in my chair. Tomney was speaking at the YWCA’s annual fundraiser, addressing the She-cession that we are in the midst of due to the global health pandemic and how this health and economic crisis has deeply impacted vulnerable women and their families in particular.
These words really landed for me.
“We are all operating on the edge of our emotions…” What did that mean?” I pondered. “What does it mean to be on the edge of our emotions?”
What I took it to mean was an acknowledgement that we are ALL operating on the edge – the edge of our emotions, the edge of our patience, the edge of our anger, the edge of our compassion, the edge of our grace, the edge of just about everything that we might be feeling.
I know this to be true. And you do too, I have no doubt. People around us (and ourselves as well, if we’re being honest) are snappier, harsher, less patient and quicker to anger.
I see it in my clients – I see it in my colleagues – I see it in my friends – and I see it in my family.
We are operating on the edge of our emotions and have little resilience left. Our once thicker skin is now paper thin and we have nothing left to give.
And we are tired.
This has been the topic with many of my private coaching clients and colleagues lately.
My once resilient community of brave go-getters is needing – craving – longing for more space in their calendars, for more room to breathe and for more, quite frankly, energy.
Psychologists define resilience as “the process of adapting well in the face of adversity, trauma, tragedy, threats or significant sources of stress – such as family and relationship problems, serious health problems, or workplace and financial stressors.” (https://www.apa.org/topics/resilience)
And even if we thought we were resilient before this, the sheer length of time we have endured in this pandemic to date, means we are all needing more resilience than we’ve ever needed before.
How, can we increase our energy stores so we can find the energy needed to reclaim some of the resilience we have lost?
Resilience Lost. Energy Found. Here are 7 ways you can increase your energy to re-energize YOU so you can be your better self at work, at home and in your community.
1) Create space in your calendar for you
The first thing we’re going to do is carve out more breathing room in your day. Your overpacked calendar isn’t doing you any favours. You need to claw back some of the time you’ve been giving away and give it back to yourself. You can get as detailed here or make it as simple as you like. Stephen Covey’s Big Rocks exercise is one great place to start. Don’t prioritize what’s on your schedule, schedule your priorities, as Covey says.
I had a client last week who told me that the best day of the week was when she had cancellations in her day so she actually had time to think. What a gift! Let’s make sure you have the time you need to think and time for you, everyday, and let’s not rely on cancellations to get you there.
2) Give others some slack
How much time do you spend annoyed by how someone treated you or responded to something? It could be a client, a colleague, your partner or your children – or it could even be a random person at the supermarket. We are upsetting people all over the place without purposefully doing it and we don’t know why. If you find people are snapping at you, consider that it really isn’t you, it’s them. They have so much going on that you don’t know about and they are operating on the edge of their emotions, just as you are. Give others some slack, and you will spare yourself the negative emotional spiral.
3) Give yourself some slack
Ok. So you lost it. You snapped at someone when you shouldn’t have; you lost your temper or you just woke up in a mood and you don’t know why. I’ll tell you why, you’ve just been through what may have been the hardest 12 months of your life and you’re tired. It’s OK. We’re all tired. Most of us are doing too much, or not enough of the things we’d rather be doing. Be compassionate with yourself. Forgive yourself. And notice that you need something you’re not giving yourself. What is it? What’s one small thing you can do for yourself today?
4) Be patient. This too will pass…
As we look at the road still ahead, and the incredible road we have already traveled behind us, I think of our forefathers and mothers who lived through world wars and other traumas that seemed eternal at the time. It changed them. They were a part of incredible history. We are all living through a time that is making history. We will tell our grandchildren about this time and marvel that we got through it. We are all in this together, and this too will pass…
5) Nurture Yourself
There’s been a lot written about self-care. There’s a difference between self-soothing and self-nurturing. Soothing is generally short-lived – think “shopping therapy” or the glass of wine after work, or the spa day. These are often good things, don’t get me wrong, however what I’m talking about here is deeper than that. What do you need to do to nurture yourself? Think a daily meditation or gratitude practice. Think daily exercise and healthy eating. Think meaningful connection that nurtures your soul. The positive effects of these nurturing acts will last long after the activity is over.
6) Cultivate Empathy, Compassion, and Kindness
Clif Smith’s latest book: Mindfulness Without the Bells and Beads is coming out in a few weeks. His approach speaks of practicing empathy, compassion and kindness on OURSELVES so that we can be better able to practice it on others. Smith advocates that we are better able to connect with and support others, be better leaders, increase our resilience and enable us to grow confidence so that we can move forward, even through setback and failure. If you are to be kind to others, you must first practice kindness to ourselves, says Smith. I like the sound of that!
7) Prioritize Relationships That Fill Your Tank
In last month’s blog post, Connection Lost: Intimacy Found, I speak more thoroughly about rebuilding connection with those most important to you. Choose to surround yourself with those who are life-giving and affirming for you. Who in your world do you long to see? I bet they make you feel good about yourself, truly see you and fill your tank in some way. Prioritize those relationships more often, and you will also build your resilience as you live through life’s challenges.
Resiliency is something we cannot measure, it is true. But I bet you know when yours is low. Take the steps you need to rebuild your resilience so you can navigate your days with the part of you, you are most proud of. I’ll be there right alongside you, rebuilding mine.
From my bubble to yours,
P.S. This is Part II in a Series: The Road to Recovery Post-Covid. You can read Part 1: Connection Lost: Intimacy Found right here.
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