I’ve been MIA lately working on some personal growth and development.
One of the biggest takeaways I had from the Center for Creative Leadership’s Leadership Development Program was about resilience. What does it mean to be a resilient leader in today’s world?
In all of my personality and interpersonal assessments, as well as in my 360 feedback, it shows that I often start to crumble under extreme stress. All my self-care tools go out the window, and I become singularly focused on achieving the goal. Whatever the goal is.
The truth is, I didn’t need a test to tell me that. When I feel tremendous pressure, I work myself day and night, feeling exhilarated by the task, and ignoring the signs that exhaustion is creeping in. I somehow think I can beat exhaustion – put it off for another day. Or that my energy will carry me through.
And yet, every time that I go down the path of “I just need to keep going for one more day,” I start to recognize the early warning signs of burn out.
I used to laugh at the idea of burn out. Until I felt it myself. Now I realize just how real it is.
When I push myself beyond my limits, I feel tired. I feel depressed. The slightest upset in my planning feels like the end of the world. And it becomes increasingly difficult to “bounce back”.
So what does resilience mean in this context. Rather than being resilient enough to just keep going, resilience is what you do to make sure you don’t reach the point of exhaustion to begin with. Resilience is setting up the tools and habits that you need from the beginning to support you to maintain your strength, and avoid reaching burn out.
Resilience, in essence, is how you maintain equilibrium under pressure, i.e. making sure you take care of yourself enough so that you are able to cope with stress in a healthy and productive way, regardless of how much pressure you are under.
Are you struggling to cope with stress and build up your resilience? Explore these 5 practices to remain calm, even under the most stressful circumstances.
5 Tips to Strengthen Your Resilience
- Get enough sleep - Your body will tell you what it needs. Doctor's recommend getting between 7-8 hours of sleep a night. Yes, each and every night. There is no "making up for it" on the weekend, you truly need to hold yourself accountable to get sufficient sleep every day. Without it, your body starts to operate in a state of deprivation.
- Take a time out whenever you need - When you start to feel overly stressed or exhausted, take a pause. Close your eyes, go for a walk, lie down for a nap. Take a time out. Don't just push through. This will give you a chance to breath, to regulate your central nervous system once again, and to come back to whatever you are working on with renewed resilience and with a fully present mind.
- Create balance between your work, life, and other priorities - Really, truly, evaluate where you are spending a majority of your time. Is it on work? Is it on family? What about on yourself? Where could you start to shift the balance of where your time and energy goes so that you have enough of the things you love to do present in your day-to-day life. If you notice that one area of your life has a majority of the share of your time and attention, pull back and e valuate if that makes you happy. Could another balance better support you to feel more fulfilled?
- Eat foods that nourish your body - When we are working tirelessly, or feel high levels of stress, many of us will turn to food to keep us alert and energized. We may grab whatever is most easily available - coffee, sugar, sweets, chips. If you take the time to ensure you are properly nourished - with foods that your body loves, (proteins, vegetables, fruits, whole grains,) you will notice that you no longer need to find sugar or caffeine to fill the energy gaps throughout your day. Another hint: getting enough sleep also supports you to stop snacking on foods that don't nourish you and helps you feel better!
- Exercise - Your body (and mind) needs it. Plain and simple. Exercise could mean hitting that 7AM spin class, or perhaps it's just going for a walk around your neighborhood. Whatever exercise you choose to do, make sure you give your body the chance to move at least once a day. Give yourself a break from your task at hand, take your mind off work, family, and other obligations - and truly let yourself move, clearing your mind from worry and allow energy to flow through your body. This will help you stay focused and feel good, at the same time.
Small changes in your day-to-day life can already have a huge impact on your resilience and overall well being. Don't try to tackle all of these behaviors at once. But select one from the list above and see how integrating it into your life can have an impact. (Hint: it takes 28-days to form a habit, why not start with ONE for the next 28-days and see what happens.)
The world is waiting for your impact.