Build Your Resilience with 5 Key Strategies
By Jennifer Garland, The Mane Intent Inc.
I didn’t see it coming — ignored the danger signs. I thought I could handle having it all. Our children were young. I was serving as the Public Relations Director for Canada’s largest retailer. My husband was equally driven and ambitious. A new lab puppy named Montana completed the picture. From the outside – we looked like a power couple able to keep it together. What you didn’t see was my complete lack of sleep, emotional turmoil and a general all-over physical ache that just wouldn’t go away.
Then I lost my dream job in a corporate restructuring. My role was eliminated. ‘Constructively dismissed’ is putting it nicely. Job loss hurts. With my system already in over drive – my ability to ‘bounce back’ was hugely depleted. The experience sparked a downward spiral that left me breathless. At 33, I was diagnosed with burn-out. Personal resilience was not part of my vocabulary then. It is today, almost 20 years later, thanks to the wisdom of experience.
What is resilience? The traditional definition of resilience is the ability to bounce back from adversity. The American Psychological Association defines it as “the process of adapting well in the face of adversity, trauma, tragedy, threats and even significant sources of stress – such as family and relationship problems, serious health problems, or workplace and financial stresses.”
No matter whom you are or where you are in life – you are bound to experience set-backs and disappointments. You can’t appreciate happy without sad. Resilience is a skill that can be learned and cultivated with the right kinds of relationships and support, according to current thinking on the topic.
Here are 5 key strategies to help building your resilience at home and at work:
- Nurture your inner champion. What’s your self-talk? Do you listen to your inner critic or your inner champion? Our inner champion (or authentic self) takes experiences and turns them into learning experiences versus mistakes and lets us know that we are safe, wanted, worthy and have the right to claim our personal power. Your inner champion is your best friend. Examples of our authentic self may include:
- Being open to a full range of emotions and uses them as information.
- Trusting your own values and standing by them.
- Allowing you to be true to yourself
- Walk your walk and talk.
- Call Time-Out. Life can be a sprint or a marathon – either way – we need time-out. We are most effective when we understand our personal energy cycles throughout the day. When are you most active? When does your energy slide? Our energy cycles are typically 90 – 120 minutes long. Allow yourself time out throughout the day to refresh and refocus. Go for a walk, listen to music or savour a cup of tea in silence. The key is to give your mind and body some time to reset your energy and focus.
- Become an Optimist. Is your glass half-full or half-empty? In his book The Power of Positive Thinking, author Norman Vincent Peale recommends some of the following to support a positive mind-set:
- Picture yourself succeeding and always picture success no matter how badly things seem to be going in the present moment.
- Make a list of positive and peaceful thoughts and pass them through your mind several times a day.
- Cultivate friendships with hopeful people and avoid ‘worry conversations’.
- Do not build up obstacles in your imagination.
- Go with Your Emotional Flow. Emotions are simply energy in motion. In her book, Emotional Genius, author Karla McLaren challenges us to “marshal the energy of our emotions and use them to increase your awareness, heal relationships and address deeper personal wounds.” She invites us to uncover the message behind our emotions. No emotion is good or bad. When you experience an emotional response to a situation, acknowledge the emotion it provokes and try to examine it in a non-judgemental way. Having emotional agility is about being able to use emotion as information; getting the message behind the emotion; adjusting our behaviour, relationships and environment; and letting the emotion go and returning to balance.
- Practice the Art of Self-Care. Self-care is important for your body, mind and soul. Avoiding things that make you feel physically and mentally well will deplete your confidence and self-esteem. Self-care is important for your family and friends too as they learn from your example. Setting boundaries to take care of you shows them that they too need to put themselves first and not overextend or overwork. Unhealthy relationships occur when you don’t take time for your needs. Examples of self-care might include:
- Giving yourself permission to ‘unplug’ from technology in all its forms
- Spend an hour alone doing something that nourishes you – that’s not work or things on your to-do list (reading, your hobby, walking around the neighbourhood, visiting a museum or gallery)
- Painting or writing something to release your creative energy
- Bonus Tip: Hire a Personal or Professional Coach. Sometimes we need a little help achieving our goals. A coach can help you stay motivated; challenge you to try new things; and provide support and encouragement along the way. Working with a coach helps you stay accountable for the changes you might need to create for greater resilience.
About the Author:
Jennifer Garland is the Owner/Program Director of The Mane Intent Inc., offering Health and Wellness Workshops and Individual and Team Effectiveness Coaching. Jennifer’s intent is to bring humans and horses as natural coaches together to build resilience and explore new possibilities. She has over 25 years of leadership experience in communications, cause-related marketing and change management. As a strategist, facilitator and effectiveness coach, Jennifer has provided counsel and support to senior leaders from all walks of life to build productive relationships, facilitate learning and to embrace change. The Mane Intent received the 2017 Peterborough Business Excellence Award for Health and Wellness. To book a private session with our natural coaches, call 705-295-6618.