Social distancing is about a month old and it doesn’t look like it will be ending anytime soon. Your hair is shaggy, your roots are showing and you’re not looking your best. If you are a leader you are worried about the financial impacts of this shutdown and your cash flow. If you manage a team you may be concerned about employee productivity and how you will regroup when this crisis is over. You may have already had to let valued employees go and/or put pay cuts in place. It’s causing lots of stress for everyone. Resilience is about getting through this challenging stressful time, adapting and eventually thriving.
What is Resilience?
Responding well in the face of adversity, trauma or significant stress is how psychologists define resilience. Handling the challenge and bouncing back is part of resilience. Learning from adversity and the ensuing personal growth is also involved. Resilience isn’t necessarily a personality trait that only some people possess. Rather, it is an ordinary trait that can be learned. Increasing our resilience requires time and intentionality. Our ability to learn and grow from trauma is what resilience is about.
Sheryl Sandberg and Adam Grant have researched resilience, written about it and developed an organization to foster resilience. Psychologists have found that there are three beliefs that kill resilience. They are personalization-we are at fault, permanence-this crisis won’t end and pervasiveness- it impacts everything. In actuality none of these beliefs are accurate. If you get stuck on these tracks your resilience will suffer. The strategies below will help foster this important human trait.
Strategies to Foster Resilience
Connection: Prioritize relationships with people you care about. Reach out to those individuals during good and bad times. Find groups of people who share similar interest or passions. Pick up the phone rather than sending a text because it builds a stronger personal connection. Focus on deep listening and empathetic communication. Lately a lot of groups have been meeting for virtual lunches on Zoom. Foster community: Teams often have their own culture and traditions. Sometimes these can be replicated or reinvented in an online environment, such as the Friday Zoom happy hour that my husband’s office organizes. These connections are important to remind you of your purpose. Organized clapping sessions have begun outside of hospitals to show love and appreciation for healthcare workers, see #clapbecausewecare.
Wellness: Stress influences our body and mind. Exercise helps release stress. Getting outdoors changes your perspective. Try a new activity like Tai Chi or Qi Gong.
Purpose: Scientific research on resilience has shown that having a sense of purpose and giving support to others has a significant impact on our well-being. Research calls it the helper’s high. Donate to a food bank or a shelter. Make masks and give them to a senior residence.
Embrace healthy thoughts: Practicing gratitude has been shown to lift our spirits. Try to maintain a healthy perspective and watch out for irrational thinking that trips you up. While taking that perspective learn from your past consider, “What has helped you deal with adverse circumstances previously”? learn from that and accept what can’t be changed. My cousin from Germany sent a family message recently containing the following quote from Yosef Kanefsky, a Los Angeles rabbi: Every hand that we don’t shake must become a phone call that we place. Every embrace that we avoid must become a verbal expression of warmth and concern. Every inch and every foot that we physically place between ourselves and another, must become a thought as to how we might be of help to that other, should the need arise.”
• Help others- reach out to someone you haven’t spoken to or seen in sometime
• Get outside yourself-share a smile with a stranger or the mail carrier
• Create community-find some likeminded souls you share a passion with
• Set goals-try learning a new skill or tackling a project you’ve always wanted to do• Write down 3 things you’ve done well each day