By Barb Ward
It’s hard to believe that just a few short months ago we were working hard to figure out the new landscape as we navigated our children and ourselves back into a very different-looking school year and work environment. We were using every ounce of our reserve hope, patience, and understanding to “get through it”. And that brings us back to change is hard. No matter whether it is good, bad, fun or difficult, change brings some level of stress. And after all of the challenges that arose during the months of winter – unexpected periods of required quarantine, limited fans for our kids’ sports, seemingly endless new decisions made on who, when, and where masks are required, and a vaccine available… it’s no wonder our reserves are tapped.
But here we are in the midst of summer, facing transition yet again. Moving forward requires us to pull even more from what little reserves we may have left. Saying we need to recover from difficulties and bounce back from stress is not enough. If we lean into change rather than resisting, we can become an agent of change rather than a victim. For most of us, this is not an easy task, but how we react makes all the difference, not only for us, but for those around us. Our friends, our family, our co-workers. When people take note of how you respond to a difficulty, they can learn from your strategies and change their response… so it becomes a chain reaction.
What’s more, through centuries of research we know that resilience is a skill, not a trait. As a result, we can explore and enact strategies to build our skills and increase our resilience, enabling us to be more effective as a change agent.
Following are some strategies that can help you navigate the unpredictability that has become commonplace, build your resilience, and enable you to “roll with it” with renewed energy:
- Keep it simple. Think about what is most important to you. Prioritize your time and energy. Take each day as it comes and each task as it comes. Break larger tasks into smaller pieces.
- Be grateful. Both giving and receiving gratitude releases dopamine and serotonin in the brain, which immediately improves your mood and makes you feel good from the inside. And gratitude pays it forward – when you offer gratitude to someone it makes both of you feel better, so say it out loud and often!
- Adjust your expectations. Maybe sustaining is enough right now. Give yourself some grace aka cut yourself some slack and be ready to change your plans.
- Establish healthy boundaries. Surround yourself with supportive and caring people. Protect yourself and remember you can’t do everything. Learn to say “no” when you need to.
- Take a break. Giving yourself a few moments to rejuvenate your mind throughout the day helps you stay balanced and optimistic.
- Exercise. Getting your heart pumping wakes your body and mind and releases endorphins that decrease stress and improve your mood, making you feel better all around. It can be as simple as taking a walk to recharge and refuel your body.
- Get enough sleep. Resting your body and mind will help you function better throughout the day. It will also enable you to get tasks done quickly making you more productive.
- Eat right. Eating a healthy diet supports your body by providing needed energy and keeping your mind sharp.
- Don’t do it alone. Talking with others leads to catharsis – which means a feeling of relief. By simply sharing your thoughts with others, your feelings can become less intense, and your stress levels decrease.
- Incorporate mindfulness. Take mental breaks throughout the day. Breathe deeply, relax your body, clear your mind, and focus on something that you enjoy and that gives you peace.
One thing that is certain, your circumstances will continually change, but by embracing that change, and being cognizant of the way you react to it, you can shift the outcome and lead the way into the future you envision. Don’t worry, you’ve got this!