“Put One Foot in Front of the Other” and “One Day at a Time” are the mantras I have said to myself many times over the past year. Like many others, I have felt stuck, ready to give up, and wanting to scream at the world because of the fear and pain in my heart. Life’s stressors have taken a toll on me, and I have felt the weight of the world on my shoulders more days than not.
Over the past (too many to count) months, I have been juggling many responsibilities and roles—business owner, teacher, mother, wife, daughter, friend. My drive for perfectionism and playing big has kept me tied to my computer working all hours of the day. I have ignored my family and drifted farther away from my husband. My priorities have been out of whack, my anxiety levels have been high, and I have struggled to show up authentically with those I care about the most. This has all have taken a toll on my overall health and well-being.
And yet, here I am writing about a word that I embrace and invited into my business a few years ago: RESILIENCE.
What is Resilience?
Resilience is your ability to withstand or recover quickly from setbacks or difficult conditions.
Resilience is NOT something you are born with. It helps us embrace the broad spectrum of human experience. Resilience is built upon optimism helping you see the good in the world and focus energy on what you can control and change. It doesn’t mean you can change the negative circumstance or situation, but you can establish new ways of dealing with it. Cultivating personal resilience can also help you respond and handle challenges with more ease and grace.
Resilience is a Skill.
While some of us are naturally more resilient than others, some people also spend time strengthening this skill by embracing change, setting attainable goals, and surrounding themselves with good people. Everyone will face some challenges to well-being and thriving throughout their lives. Learning to work through these challenges is necessary but also offers a powerful opportunity for enhancing personal growth.
Why does Resilience Matter?
As I have learned more about resilience, I have discovered the pursuit of resilience may be a better path for my journey than the pursuit of happiness. Moments of happiness are fleeting and circumstantial. I can’t always count on being “happy.” BUT resilience is something I can work on and strengthen.
If this year has shown us anything, it is that we have the ability to adapt, even when circumstances are far from ideal. I know cultivating personal resilience does not eliminate stress or erase life’s difficulties. I do not see life through rose-colored lenses. I understand setbacks happen and sometimes life is hard and painful. But resilience gives me the strength to tackle problems head-on, overcome adversity, and move forward with my life.
Benefits of Resilience:
- Increases your chance of success
- Gives a sense of independence, self-efficacy, and self-worth
- Positively correlates with physical health, morale, and life satisfaction
- Offers you a more positive outlook on life
- Makes you less prone to anxiety and depression
- Promotes successful aging
How Can You Cultivate Resilience?
Here are some things I do to strengthen my resilience muscle:
- Connect: I make time to have regular calls, coffee dates, and walks with people who support and inspire me. Finding and maintaining relationships that are authentic and positive nourishes my soul. It always feels good to share what is really happening in my life instead of what is easy. When a good friend asks me, “How are you doing?” I answer truthfully, even when it is hard to share and may cause tears. I work hard at showing up as myself – the good, the bad, and the ugly, and inviting those who are with me to do the same. These types of relationships are the ones that matter the most to me. Who are those people in your life and have you reached out to them lately?
- Remember Your Why: For some, trying to answer life’s biggest question might make you want to crawl back into bed. But I thrive on knowing my why, my purpose. When I have a clear purpose and direction for what I am doing, I find it much easier to pick myself up and do the hard work to keep moving forward. Instead of answering the question, “What am I going to do today?” or “How am I going to do it?”, I try to begin with, “Why am I doing this?” Then the how and the what become details that help me fulfill my purpose. I invite you to close your eyes and connect to your why.
- Listen and Feel: You know the saying, “You wear your heart on your sleeve”? Well, that is me. I have always been a deep feeler. I used to think this was a bad trait. Now I understand how important it is to be self-aware, not only of my emotions, but of my physical body. When I take time to listen to the thoughts swirling around in my mind and feel the physical sensations in my body, it is easier to make choices that are supportive and healing for me. Let’s get real here – I don’t always do what is right or what I know is the healthier choice. But pausing to listen and feel has become a skill I am tapping into more so I can ride the waves of emotion. I trust that the feelings are there to be felt and that this too will pass. Give yourself permission to pause, listen, feel, and breathe.
- Rebalance: Moving throughout my day with mindfulness is a skill I have learned over the years as a yoga and meditation teacher and one I try to practice daily. It has been said that those who cultivate mindfulness can stay more present to each moment throughout the day instead of ruminating about the past or worrying about the future. This is true for me. I have anxiety and it is very easy for me to get caught up in the unknown and worry about what might happen, replay a negative conversation in my mind again and again, or shame myself because of a mistake I made. The practice that always brings me back to my center and helps me live in the present moment is yoga, meditation, and breath work. I hope you will join me on the mat for a class. You are always welcome.
- Recharge: When you are stressed, is self-care the first thing to go and the last thing you make time for? If you nodded your head yes, you are not alone. I can easily find myself stuck in solving problems and caught up in the “doing” mode of checking off the long list of tasks I want to accomplish in a day. It is hard for me to make time for breaks or engage in activities that bring me joy. However, self-care is a key strategy for resilience and something I know I need to make time for so I do not burnout. At the heart of self-care is the idea that we must be deliberate about taking care of ourselves—especially when we have the responsibility of taking care of others. Self-care can look different to different people. Engage in an activity that makes you smile and feels great! One of my favorite ways to recharge is practicing a 20-30 minute yoga nidra meditation in the middle of the day. It allows my brain to decompress AND it helps me move into the second half of my day feeling refreshed. I also try and spend some time outside every day connecting to nature. I live in the Midwest, and it is a gift to experience all four seasons. Instead of staying indoors when the weather is bad, I now have clothing to get outside and brave the elements. Want to join me this winter for a walk in the park wearing snowshoes?
Resilience is a wonderful trait to have and is related to a plethora of positive outcomes. Perhaps most importantly, resilience can be improved. As Kris Kringle sings in the Christmas classic, Santa Claus is Coming to Town, all we need to do to help change our ways and move forward is “Put One Foot in Front of the Other.”