During times of crisis, the term “resilience” comes up a lot. Resilience is often thought of as getting through or bouncing back after a challenge. This is true. However, resilient people do not only bounce back, they bounce forward. True resilience is not just about making it through a challenge, it is about growing because of it.
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As our personal and professional contexts continue to change, we are required to continually adapt week after week, day after day. We are working in new ways with different constraints, different physical spaces, and new technology. Most of us are also managing hectic home situations, including childcare, homeschooling, being alone, or enjoying a lot more time with partners than usual. If you’re working harder than ever to manage the changes in your professional and personal life, adrenaline and junk food can only sustain you for so long. How can you keep yourself going as human being?
Here are three ways to help keep up your resilience and grow from our present challenge:
Research shows us that connecting authentically with people, even for brief moments, increases our mental, emotional, and even physical well-being. When we’re isolated and pushing hard, however, staying connected can be difficult. It's tempting to push through our workday and not take the time for a virtual lunch, coffee or happy hour. I’ve also heard that people feel overwhelmed and wired by the virtual connections, i.e., too many Zoom happy hours, texts, video messages—they can’t keep up!
What matters is finding a connection that is meaningful and sustaining for you. You may prefer to do one-on-one coffee chats with a coworker or friend. You may be super energized by large-group game nights or happy hours. Maybe you want a little of both. We all need connection, so find what fills your cup the most and be intentional about scheduling two or three connections a week.
All resilient people recover. Period. It is how people sustain high levels of well-being and performance. As human beings, we cannot push endlessly without recovering in some way. Right now, there’s a whole lot of hustle happening as we manage significant changes to how we work, support our businesses as they navigate economic turmoil, and try to keep all the balls in the air on the home front. You may not think you have time for recovery, and you’re not alone. The reality is that recovery can be quick and remain impactful. And we need physical, mental and emotional recovery. Luckily, these often come together.
Recovery looks different to everyone, but common ways to recover include getting a full night’s sleep, drinking water, moving your body, connecting with other people in a meaningful way, laughter, and being out in nature.
Given the current pace of our lives, here are a few practical ways to build recovery into your day:
It’s tempting to feel like you don’t have time for recovery. However, to sustain your pace, performance, well-being and resilience, you must build in time to recharge our batteries.
Our current context is changing constantly and so must our resilience practices. What you needed in the first month of staying at home (e.g., constant virtual connection to ease you into being isolated) may not serve you in month two (e.g., less or more intentional virtual connections). Success does not necessarily mean flawlessly adhering to resilience practices. Success is paying attention to your needs, holding practices loosely, and viewing everything as a learning opportunity.
To illustrate how to adapt, here’s an example from my self-care routine. When the stay-at-home orders began, I was staying up too late and not getting enough sleep. I decided to make a goal of getting to bed by 10:00 p.m. every night for a week. However, that week brought urgent work issues that required my attention and resulted in later bedtimes. Rather than beat myself up for this self-care failure, I accepted the reality of that week and pivoted my plan to care for myself. I upped my water intake and made sure I took a walk outside every day to compensate for my lack of sleep. I held my self-care plan loosely but still intentionally took care of myself. Adjusting my goal for the week was not failure. Adapting my practices to meet the reality of my week was a win.
We are facing unprecedented times of change for our organizations and ourselves. To continue showing up to serve our families, communities and organizations, we need to build practices that support resilience. Being intentional about your resilience practices will help you through this challenging time and come out the other side stronger than before.
Susie Taylor is a passionate advocate of personal and organizational change. As a Change Advisor for Prosci, she partners with organizations to implement change management strategies that drive adoption and results while fostering a positive employee experience. She has a master's degree in applied positive psychology from the University of Pennsylvania, where she has also served as an instructor.
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