G is for Gratitude

Much has been written about Gratitude in recent years. It is good for our health, our mental health, and our sense of self to remind ourselves of what we have around us.

Today’s personal resilience challenge is to take a pen and paper (I know that requires some action on your part) and write down in three minutes as many things as you can think of that you are grateful for right now.

If this task is too easy for you, you might like to try putting 5 things on your phone you are grateful for every day for the next 28 days, one of them about yourself if you really want a challenge.  I guarantee if you do this for 28 days you will feel the shift in your mood.     How many things are on your gratitude list? 

Affirmation: “I feel gratitude for all that makes life good.”

F is for Fun

This picture was taken last year, and I love the expectation on the little faces looking at the beauty of the bright daffodils on a dark night.

Just for fun I could write the conversation they are having.  What are the things that you most often do just for fun?  And perhaps most importantly, when did you last do something just for fun?  This requires first and foremost intention and permission.

Intention to loose myself in something that brings me peace or joy, or that simply takes me out of myself.  It may involve others – it may not! 

Play is not just for children!  Make sure whatever else is happening – you plan to have some fun today.

Affirmation: “I am choosing to be playful today and to create opportunities for fun.”

E is for Exercise

I’m curious about what energises you! The differences between us means we may be energised by different things. Perhaps the best thing you can do to sustain your energy levels is pay attention to what energises any human body… and also what energises You!

There is strong evidence for the benefits of physical exercise in enhancing mental health and re-firing the brain with good chemistry.We are also energised by quality sleep – so go all out during stressful times to maintain or establish the best sleep routine possible to get maximum benefit from the hours you are off duty.

So take a moment and write down 3 things that you know energises you and make it a priority to find space to act on these every day this week.

Affirmation: “I am exercising every day so my body and my brain can be energised for action.”

D is for Downtime

For me downtime is being engaged in an activity where I am so absorbed in what I am doing that normal thought is suspended.   Evidence suggests that doing something that gets us into that state of flow has exponential benefits for our health, well-being, brain, emotional health, the list goes on.  For me that can be getting lost in a book, playing piano, counted cross-stitch, being in the garden and getting my hands into earth!

Sit down and write a list of the things that you know take you to that place of downtime, when you are completely absorbed and focussed.  Be intentional about engaging in one of your downtime activities every day starting now.

“Every day I am learning the importance creating space for downtime.”

C is for Choice

I’m curious about the choices you have made this week.  Recently someone said to me on a Friday: “It’s not a problem how late it comes through, I’ll be logging in tomorrow anyway”.  Like this person, sometimes I choose to flex boundaries, and sometimes I choose to keep the boundary in place. This is an invitation to you to be intentional about the choices you are making right now to balance effort with recovery time.  We need both activity and recovery time in order to sustain our resilience.  Check out your choices for sustainability!

“I’m building my resilience by making good choices.”

B is for Balance

If I had been videoing you all week what would I have been watching and what might I conclude about the balance of your life?   Perhaps I would have noticed behaviours driven by compassion, helplessness, joy, fear, frustration, humour, anger, love.  Are there others you would add?  If you think about it most of our outward behaviours are driven by our feelings or our values.  

To get the balance right between what we want to deliver for others; and what we need to preserve in, and for, ourselves can be a challenge.  So I encourage you to do at least one thing today – even if it is for a very short time – which will ensure you remain resilient for all you plan to do throughout the rest of the day, or which will re-energise depleted reserves so you can continue to make impact tomorrow. 

Affirmation: “I am choosing sustainability and wellbeing by balancing tasks with recovery time.”

A is for Adapt

A flexible thinking style is a huge advantage when navigating uncharted or uncertain waters.  We know that in terms of Emotional Intelligence, adaptability of thinking and  being able to flex our emotional state helps us to manage stressful situations better.  Some of us are naturally better at this than others.  You will know yourself as someone who lets go of things really quickly… or as someone who hangs on to ‘stuff’ and ruminates over and over. 

This is a learnable skill – so practise being adaptable and flexible in your thinking today.

 Affirmation: “There’s more than one way to do most things and more than one way to win.”

Resilience Alphabet – 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 and yet that is exactly what has been happening over recent weeks. 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 come into contact with through our work, or through other aspects of our lives, we do that best by looking after our own health and well-being.

I hope you have found simple and practical ideas in this Resilience Alphabet Blog which have given you ways for lighter and quieter moments, or simply ideas to pass the time and get creative. If you will miss the Resilience Alphabet Blogs every morning, just go back to A! I’m sure there are a few ideas back there that are worth thinking about again.

Z is also for The End. Although for me Endings are often an opportunity for something new. So I hope you will join me in the complimentary Resilience Time to Think Webinars which will be delivered through the medium of another Z – Zoom. These free 30 minute sessions will run on Monday evenings from next week and are open to everyone.

The action for today is simple – if you want to continue the Resilience journey, message me so I can give you details of how to continue the journey, or simply write Yes in the comments below.

Resilience Alphabet – Y is for Yellow and YOU

It has been said that Yellow is the colour of spring. We have seen a lot of yellow on our walks of late, comprising a wide variety of plants including primula, daffodils, tulips, primroses, and marsh marigold; and among the many birds we have seen we have watched goldfinches and yesterday saw yellow hammers, which we haven’t seen locally before.

We have talked about the passage of time as the very miniature daffodils in the village were first to flower a few weeks ago, and we actually first noticed them in the dark out walking one night. Now they are past, and the taller varieties of daffodil are in different stages of flowering. We see goldfinches every year at this time, and then they mysteriously disappear for a bit, presumably hatching eggs and brining up chicks.

Yellow is such an uplifting colour. Take time today, and hopefully most of you will be able to have some time off today, to spot all that is yellow in your environment, or find some paints or pens, or some magazines and make a large yellow picture or collage to greet you every time you come into your kitchen. Keep it as a symbol of hope and reminder that ‘this too will pass’.

And Y is also 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. I will continue to post here things which I believe may be useful to your personal resilience on a less frequent basis. However, if you want to continue on the personal resilience journey, I am going to run an evening 30 minute Resilience Webinar per week using material I have developed for my Public Sector clients to support those in government, health, education and social care over this time. That way I get to transfer a further 6 hours a week from Blog writing to the growing demand for support to those working in these areas. At the same time, YOU can have the benefit of the Time to Think Resilience Webinars©. Let me know as soon as you can if this is of interest to you.

Meanwhile, go paint the town Yellow, and as always, keep safe.

Resilience Alphabet – X is for x-ray

If you possess a paper-based Dictionary, you will quickly note that where there are pages upon pages of definitions for each letter, the pages for x run to precisely two! However, from my limited choice, x-ray is an important one when we think about personal resilience.

I’ve had a tendonitis/frozen shoulder problem since the beginning of the year. If you’ve had this, you have my sympathy. The problem with a shoulder is it is complex, it has many different parts, and there is virtually no activity you can do without engaging it’s help. And believe me, even with high levels of creativity you will find it quite challenging to do some very ordinary daily tasks!

At some point this shoulder is likely to be heading for an x-ray or more likely a scan. This has the potential to reveal what is going on, where the problem actually is, and allow for some decisions about treatments.

You may well be asking at this point, what does all this has to do with your personal resilience? Quite a lot, actually. We’ve been in this place called ‘lockdown’ for over three weeks, and if you’ve been following this Blog daily you will now have a lot of practical and pragmatic ideas to try or do to support your personal resilience and sustainability for the weeks ahead.

Today is the day to Stop and take a careful look under the surface. Perhaps these five questions will help you to do so. Best done with pen and paper… but in your head will do!

1. On a scale of 1-10, how well am I looking after Myself during these challenging times? Be honest and go with the first number that comes into your head.
2. What could I do more of?
3. What could I do less of?
4. What one activity, if done daily, would make the biggest difference to my own resilience and well-being?
5. How can I hold myself accountable for taking this one action daily?

The quickest way to build in accountability is to tell someone, or tell a lot of people of your intention. You will recall that right at the start of this Alphabet I told you I was going to Blog every day – that was building in accountability. If you are really committed to that action, I’m challenging you to share your action in the comments below, which may give others some ideas too. Meanwhile, as always Stay Safe.