I have recently dealt with several people in my personal and professional life who are facing cutbacks at work, living with stressful times at home, or are dealing with health challenges. Facing these changes requires the quality of RESILIENCE. Resilience is a term used in science to describe the property of a material to absorb and then restore energy when it has been deformed. In physics, this can be measured and the results can be mathematically predicted.
In dealing with human trauma and crisis, we think of resilience as our ability to recover and heal emotionally or physically. It is about learning to live through setbacks and carry on in spite of them. Resilience is about dealing with reality --- even when it is negative --- and continuing toward our stated goals. Many times, under difficult circumstances, we discover that we have an inner strength that we had not acknowledged before. Here are some of the things we can do to increase our resiliency during times of stress or physical challenges:
- We can use our ability to manage anxiety by slowing down our breathing. We can start with basic BREATHING EXERCISES. Inhale deeply to a count of four. Hold your breath for a moment and then exhale to a count of four. Repeat this two or three times until you feel more relaxed. This provides you a brief chance to REST before you continue with the day (and you can do it anytime, anywhere!).
- POSITIVE THINKING increases our resilience. When we are faced with a problem, begin to visualize a solution. Often it is tempting to simply complain about what is not going well. Commit to never complaining without also exploring a possible solution. When you change challenges into possibilities, there is a lightness of spirit and a chance for excitement instead of anxiety.
- Use TIME MANAGEMENT techniques to reduce the feeling of pressure or overwhelm. For example, if your schedule seems overloaded, avoid the expectation of rushing through more assignments than you can reasonably handle and feeling the heaviness that goes with that. Seek ways to delegate, renegotiate due dates, reprioritize with team members or move less urgent tasks into another day.
- VISUALIZE bouncing back from a negative situation. I have an image of a “Slinky” toy that is coiled and mashed down but continues to release and move forward. What can you imagine that can be your image of a successful recovery or intended results?
- TAKE ACTION that is consistent with your goal, even if it is difficult and this is your first time doing things this way. Taking an action, even a small one, will help you feel in control and that you can impact the situation in a positive manner.
- REVIEW where you began and where you are now. Notice the progress you have made. Pay attention to what you did differently that helped to create success. Acknowledge and reward yourself for feeling completed.
Above all, let go of the need for perfection – especially during difficult times. You may be in a new situation with new experiences, so you may find that you need to experiment with new ways of solving problems. Some of these may not work. Don't waste time beating up on yourself when they don’t work or for being in the situation in the first place. As Jimmy Dean once said:
“I can’t change the direction of the wind, but I can adjust my sails to always reach my destination.”
What have you done to “bounce back” and be resilient during challenging times? Post a comment and share so others can try your ideas, too!