Z is for Zebra

Of course it is!  Robert M Sapolsky got our attention with regard to Zebras when he wrote his classic book “Why Zebras don’t get Ulcers.”  We know that living in a constant state of stress is harmful for us.  That is why it is critical that we take seriously our need to actively and frequently find ways to give ourselves respite from the pressures of daily life in order to sustain our health and mental well-being, even if that is only for short bursts of time.

It is my strong belief that in order to serve others, including our family members and those we have contact with through work, or through other aspects of our lives, that is best done by looking after our own health and well-being..

Z is also for The End.  Although for me Endings are often an opportunity to begin again.  So either go right back to A or find another activity to continue your resilience journey.

Affirmation: “An end is just a beginning with a different name.  The resilience journey continues.”

Y is for You

Y is for YOU and with this post comes an Invitation with your name on it.  Tomorrow sees Day 26 of the Resilience Alphabet and the last letter of the alphabet. However, your personal resilience and wellbeing will be important long after this Alphabet ends.

Take steps today to decide on your plan of action going forward.   Then tell someone what you intend to do as a mechanism for building accountability for your intentions.

And finally, more than anything believe that you are worth the effort!   Make the affirmation opposite something you say to yourself every day for the next 26 days.

Affirmation: “My health and wellbeing matters to me and I will make the time to do the things that nurture and support my wellbeing.”

X is for X-ray

If you’ve been following this Resilience Alphabet daily you will now have a lot of practical ideas to support your personal resilience if you do them!

Today is the day to Stop and like an x-ray, take a careful look under the surface.  Perhaps these four questions will help you to do so.  They are best answered with pen and paper… but in your head will do!

On a scale of 1-10, how well am I looking after Myself?

What could I do more of?

What could I do less of?

What one activity, if done daily, would make the biggest difference to my own resilience and well-being?

When you have some answers – Go do it!

Affirmation: “I am committing to prioritising my personal resilience and taking action to nurture my wellbeing ”

W is for Walk

Whether you walk in the woods, in your garden, or round your house today is the day for taking a walk and as you do so engage with all of your senses: what do you see or notice; what do you hear; how do you feel or what can you touch; what can you smell; and can you taste anything?

Walking is more natural to us than sitting for long periods.  There is something both rhythmic and soothing about the motion, that leaves us feeling good and relaxed.  If for any physical reason you are unable to walk, look out your window and imagine that walk using all of your senses, or google ‘woodland’, or check out the Facebook page of Max Out in the Lake District. Where will you go for a walk today?  Make it a priority.

Affirmation: “I am intentional about using all of my senses today as I walk to build my personal resilience.”

V is for Vulnerable

It’s 10 years since Brene Brown delivered her Ted Talk on Vulnerability and shared her wisdom around the importance of feeling and acknowledging our emotions, and not seeking to numb them.  It is still worth a listen 10 years later.

There is perhaps no other time in your life when you have felt more vulnerable and threatened more acutely than you have in 2020. Having the courage to own our vulnerability is the first step to embracing all it means to be human.

Brene Brown encourages us “to let ourselves be seen in all our vulnerability, to love with our whole hearts even though there is no guarantee, to practise gratitude and joy when we have doubts, and to belief that we are enough to get through this together.” (I have summarised)

Today acknowledge and embrace your vulnerability.  In essence it is vitality stripped bare and the very thing that enables us to embrace life.

Affirmation: “Today I am choosing to acknowledge my vulnerability and embrace life.”

U is for Uncertainty

All that I know and have read about uncertainty confirms my belief that we struggle with uncertainty.

Earlier this year, I was touched by a colleague’s post on social media written whilst sitting in an airport just as it was becoming obvious that flights would be grounded and travel would be grinding to a stop.  As she sat there with all the uncertainties of future life, she decided to write a list of what she remained certain of.   It was a very moving list and included things like, “I am certain I am loved”, “I am certain of my faith”, “I am certain this will pass”, and so the list went on.

So two actions today: give yourself a daily routine; and secondlytake pen and paper, find a quiet place and write down your personal “I remain certain…” list.

Affirmation: “Today I’m choosing to focus on what I am certain of.”

T is for Talk

Have you ever lived close enough to a baby to track the many achievements required in simply learning to talk, from these first one syllable sounds, testing out the musical range of babbling, through learning the word ‘no’, to telling you fantastic tales about the adventures of various toys.  It is a complex and effortful process accessing many parts of the brain.   To produce a phrase, about 100 muscles of the chest, neck, jaw, tongue and lips must work together.  That any of us can talk is one of life’s miracles.

I love this photo.  It symbolises all that is wonderful about being able to talk.  Getting lost in the moment with friends over a cup of tea, oblivious for a time to what is happening around us, or the challenges we might face. Today call one of your friends simply to chat.

Affirmation: “Talking is one of life’s gifts and I’m choosing to use it well.”

S is for Sunrise

If I live to be 100 and look back on my life, one of my moments of wonder will be sitting alone on Kaikoura beach at 5.30am in the morning waiting for the sun to rise.   I left the campsite in darkness with camera and crossed over the railway to find a place to sit on the sand and wait.

All was silent, except the rhythmic sound of the waves, entrancing and soothing, constant and re-assuring.  I could feel the cool sand, and feel the gentle morning breeze, and internally I can still remember that feeling of wonder at being part of this amazing natural phenomenon that happens every morning.

Affirmation: “I am paying attention to the beauty of nature and its constancy no matter what is going on”

R is for Remember

A couple of days ago I looked out my two Passports (of the electronic kind) to look at the photos stored on them, some of which go back to 1979!   As we’ve looked at them some have made us laugh, some are pretty awful, and many of them have been reminders of days out and family holidays, significant events and people, and times of much fun and laughter.

To build your personal resilience today, go and pull out some random photos or a photo album from before the selfie took over, and revisit some of the times that you thought were significant enough to capture.  Go laugh at what’s fun, remember important moments, and revisit happy times.  Write a list of 10 people you have photos of and get in touch with them.  You have a vast store of happy memories – what a resource to revisit at this time. 

Affirmation: “I am accessing my memory to build resilience by remembering happy times!”

Q is for Question

Questions fairly frequently disturb our equilibrium and perhaps that is their core purpose.  For most of us, as we journey through life we ask ourselves questions.  What is the point of this?  What is happening here? Why is this happening to me?

As we think about personal resilience, I would encourage you to adopt the sentiment of this Quote.  Embrace your questions and learn to live with and in the question.  These may include questions of faith, questions about meaning, questions about the future and so on.

Right now there are many things that remain unsolved in our hearts.  The invitation in the quote above to “Live in the Question” rather than to seek to resolve all the uncertainties of this time is wise advice.

Affirmation: “I am learning to have patience and to be at peace with some of the questions in my life.”