The need for resiliency was apparent when we started our coaching session with the following request: “I hope you can help prevent me from losing my shit today.” I think you know the feeling. It’s familiar to all of us. We’re all exhausted from trying to stay safe and healthy, adjusting to remote working, teaching/learning, and everything else. It’s a powerful testament to our tenacity and resiliency.

A 2020 HBR article on resiliency showed that resilience is a reactive state of mind created by exposure to suffering, and the more tangible the threat, the more resilient we become. How do we do that?

Many articles have already captured many ways to develop more resilience. Considering the present state of affairs, I think the following three are the most relevant.

Resiliency requires numerous, consistent small decisions.

When faced with stressful situations, it’s common for us to exhibit a ‘react’ rather than ‘response’ mode. We typically are not present in the moment and are mired with thoughts of worry, fear, and anxiety. When we find ourselves in this space, one easy process to follow instead includes:

1) Take several deep breaths to allow you to think more clearly.

Paying attention to your breath accomplishes several things. First, it brings your attention to your body and out of your thoughts and current feelings. Secondly, when we are stressed, we need more oxygen to our brain. Stress sends adrenaline into our bloodstream, which tells our body that we either need to fight or run away. Therefore our body thinks that blood and oxygen need to go to our large muscle groups. We need more blood flow and oxygen to go to our brain instead. Taking deep breaths and becoming mindful will accomplish that.

2) Be mindful of how your body is feeling at that moment.

Tap into your body for a moment. Where are you feeling the stress? Noticing where your stress displays in your body is one way to become mindful and fully present in the moment.

3) Decide what to do next based on what will direct you towards your best self.

At every decision point in our lives, even for the smallest of actions, we are faced with many options. If we react, it’s typically an unconscious knee-jerk reaction without much thought or contemplation. If we respond while being mindful, we can consciously choose the path supporting and expanding our highest self. Ask yourself this question:

What can I do next that supports my best and highest self?

Focus on what’s already working well.

During times of continuous stress and challenge, it can be tempting to become overwhelmed from our heads’ swimming thoughts. We feel out of control, and we’re grasping for something to place us back on solid ground. Look around and find what’s already solid ground for you. Even if it’s just making your bed in the morning and making sure you brush your teeth once a day, focus on what’s working for you.

One of my clients is single-handedly caring for an aging parent while working full time from home and isolated because of the pandemic. Yet with all that, they’ve been able to keep a consistent routine of exercise, eating well, and getting the necessary amount of sleep. Though overwhelm shows up now and again, by focusing on this foundational baseline of health, they’re able to be much more resilient.

Pay particular attention to relationships and connections.

Connecting with others and the feeling of belonging feeds one of our basic human needs. In The Gifts of Imperfection, Brene Brown defines belonging as:

“the innate human desire to be part of something larger than us. Because this yearning is so primal, we often try to acquire it by fitting in and by seeking approval, which are not only hollow substitutes for belonging but often barriers to it. Because true belonging only happens when we present our authentic, imperfect selves to the world, our sense of belonging can never be greater than our level of self-acceptance.”

In this case, we’re not talking about networking and touching base with acquaintances. Instead, spend time with people who nurture you, who understand the real you, and who you can be authentic with, in any situation. You may need to reach out intentionally to these special people and invite them to connect. As Jim Rohn said,

“You are the average of the five people you spend the most time with.”

Increase your average by being intentional about where you spend your time and expand your resiliency while you’re at it.

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Lynn Zettler is an Executive and Leadership Coach specializing in helping to create amazing leaders with excellent communication skills, exemplary accountability cultures, and impactful strategic plans.

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