This is the start of the second week of us thinking about Personal Resilience. How do you counter so much fear, anxiety and worry in the environment right now, to ensure your own well-being whilst keeping your head out of the sand?
Over the course of the last week I’ve had a lot of contact with individuals and teams of people and it is striking that some are working full out to give all of us the best chance of staying safe; some are prepared and waiting with increased capacity; some are self-isolating or home-working with or without children; and some are living alone. To some extent all of these people are dealing with the emerging challenge.
My curiosity is roused to wonder how much Hope and Hopefulness has played a part in your mental landscape this week. And if so, what is it you hope for? For me, Hope is, and always has been under-rated. As human beings we have the ability to future focus, and imaginations to allow us to experience the full range of thoughts and emotions of some imaginary place and time, and research confirms our future imaginings are as powerful as actually having the experience.
One of the best things you can do right now to protect and enhance your resilience is learn the art of Hopefulness. We do that by focussing and giving airtime to the hopes we have for future times, even in times of challenge and when we are worried about what is happening. It is not some kind of denial of what is: it is an expectation and a state of being that accepts what is whilst at the same time creates a positive mental space of future hopes, future activities and future plans.
Take some time today with a cup of tea or coffee, and pen and paper and just dream and hope and give your brain the chance to be filled with possibility and hopefulness. What steps are you taking at the moment to give yourself space to hope? Share your strategies in the comments below, and as always stay safe.
I spoke with a client last Monday morning who was onto her 14th Day in a row at work. I imagine given the role she has that if I were to speak to her tomorrow that number may well have gone up to 21. This post is dedicated to those like her for whom a day off right now would feel like an opportunity to get ahead of the wave for all of us had been missed.
At the same time, for many people staying safe means spending much more time at home, and potentially with much more time to do things we would only have dreamed of two weeks ago.
For me downtime is being engaged in an activity where I am so absorbed in what I am doing that normal thought is suspended. There is a lot of evidence to confirm 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! The paints have not come out yet… but they might!
If you know me well, you will know I am a planner! I have a white board in my kitchen right now that I’m populating with little things that I could do in a short period where I want to change focus from the ‘big stuff of life’ and engage in a period of downtime. I also have a personal list of things I have decided I will do every day to create a sense of routine during this period when normal routines have been suspended.
So I am encouraging you to 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 on what you are doing. This is the opportunity to take a break from all that surrounds us in terms of visual and mental stimulus right now; to shut out the noise; to suspend fear and simply be absorbed in your own form of downtime. No matter how busy you are – be intentional about engaging in one of your downtime activities every day. The picture was taken in a walk in Angus earlier this year.
I invite you to share in the comments what you have done today that has helped you to have a mental holiday or a dose of downtime… and stay safe!
Personal resilience is intrinsically linked with the choices we make and the degree of care for others and self-care we engage in. Being mindful of our personal resilience is not a selfish act, and rather a preservation of our health and well-being in a way we can continue to support and care for others.
I’m curious about the Choices you have made today. At the end of yesterday my last contact with someone whose work centres around the current situation said quietly “It’s not a problem how late it comes through, I’ll be logging in tomorrow anyway”. This was one of the quiet unseen army who are working on our behalf right now, who made a choice that today would be partly about support to others although it is not normally a working day. I made a different choice this morning: to leave this Blog until later in the day, so I could take a break from the busyness of the last two days. So 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 efforts.
Which takes me to the second work in my Resilience Alphabet: Connection. I cannot imagine how it feels for people who live alone during these times of staying home. However, I am certain there are many ways in which we can continue to connect with each other through the plethora of electronic means, but also by telephone. Some of you will know that I do a lot of work around Conversational Intelligence®. One of the foundational skills of C-IQ is Listening to Connect. That is not listening to speak, not listening to tell, not listening to ask…. Just listening to make human connection. So I’d like to challenge you to make a point during these weeks to give space to those you connect with to let them be heard and particularly for those who live alone, to give them the chance to express what they are feeling and thinking during the connections we have with them. And don’t forget to connect with yourself – for some of us this will be through reflection, journaling, writing poetry or just taking time to breathe.
So ensure you choose to create enough recovery time, and seek out meaningful connections with others… and yourself. Stay safe – and be kind to you