This year has not turned out the way we thought it would, has it? When we ushered in 2020, few of us would have predicted the significant upheaval we were about to face. Even now, 75% through this sh!t-show of a year, the twists keep coming and it’s difficult to get any sense of what the future holds. So many unanswerable questions. It’s exhausting and overwhelming. Even for the most mentally resilient, it’s easy to feel depleted and defeated.
I’ve been thinking a lot over the last, LONG six months about how we best support ourselves, and those who depend on us, during difficult and uncertain times. Almost every conversation I have, with clients, colleagues and friends, includes discussion about “how we’re coping or getting through”. The tone of these conversations varies from mild curiosity about these strange emotions we’re experiencing to significant concern for what lies ahead.
Uncertainty and change deliver a range of negative thoughts and emotions – confusion, disappointment, frustration and anger, to name a few. And while this feels uncomfortable, it’s important to understand it’s completely normal.
One important thing we can do when faced with unplanned (and variable) change is focus on what we can control – ourselves and our immediate environment. Managing these things increases our confidence and with confidence we build resilience. The unpredictable events of 2020 have concentrated the need for developing and strengthening our resilience.
I can be changed by what happens to me. But I refuse to be reduced by it.Maya Angelou
From all the conversations I’ve had this year, the research I’ve undertaken, my work with coaching clients and my own experiences, I’ve identified five essential actions you need to take to develop your resilience, support yourself now and emerge on the other side with confidence and clarity –
Beware of your thoughts
This is super-important because it’s so easy to fall down the negativity rabbit hole. We’re spending a lot of time alone and “in our own heads” which frequently leads to unhelpful thinking. Get curious and assess what’s occupying your thoughts. Where they’re unhelpful, what steps you can take to minimise them? For instance, if an endless cycle of news commentary and social media leads to negative thinking, consider changing your habits around your consumption. Identifying and arresting negative thinking is a difficult habit to break but will be one of the most rewarding practices you can put in place to increase your resilience.
Fill your tanks with the habits, actions and behaviours that provide you with the most energy. This one’s a bit of a no-brainer as we know we feel happier and are more motivated when we’re energised. But if it were easy, none of us would be suffering the “lockdown lethargy” right? Start with an audit of your energy “boosters” and “drainers”, especially those “drainers” disguised as “boosters” … hello banana bread, sourdough and 5pm cocktails! Identify the “boosters” that engage your senses and leave you feeling refreshed and cheerful and build as many of them as possible into your daily schedule to maximise your energy levels.
Meet your emotions
We’re experiencing a range of emotions, some of which we’ve not experienced to any great extent previously. This is normal! We wouldn’t be human if we weren’t experiencing the range of feelings induced by the most impactful global incident of our lifetimes. Accept your feelings are not unusual or bad; let yourself feel these feelings; talk about how you’re feeling (reach out to specialist helplines or professional support, if needed); and, listen to what your emotions are telling you. Our darkest and most difficult times lead to growth and this is the opportunity that lies on the other side of what we’re dealing with today.
Manage your space
Our homes are our sanctuaries, and this has never been truer. They’re fulfilling many new roles – work, school, gym, cafe, cinema etc. It’s important your daily environment works to support you. Take a look around and consider what changes might improve how your space feels, functions or flows. It could be as simple as clearing that pile of papers on the kitchen bench or getting a new plant for the room you spend the most time in. Make a habit of doing one small thing each day (or week) – you’ll be surprised how this one little practice provides a sense of accomplishment and improves self-confidence.
Engage and connect
Social engagement and personal connectivity have been attacked at their core. Who would have imagined not being able to comfort and hug those who don’t live with us, or even see them without a screen in between? Social connection is a priority for our well-being; we have no choice but to find a way to engage with our family, friends and colleagues in spite of isolation and physical distancing. How fortunate this pandemic didn’t occur in the time before smartphones and video-calling? Most people are very happy to hear from you right now even if it’s been a while. So, reach out and let someone know you’re thinking about them. It’s an absolute guarantee to make you both feel good.
How have you been building and managing your resilience in 2020? Let me know if this list resonates with you or are there other things you’re doing to deal with this time of uncertainty? And, if you’re struggling with a cycle of negative thinking or feeling exhausted by all the change you’re experiencing, read more about how I can help or get in contact and let’s chat about how I can support you to break the cycle and build your resilience.