When you imagine a health and wholeness, what do you imagine? What words come to mind?
We live in a society where we are taught to grit our teeth and "get through it" when it comes to personal challenges. Yet this is precisely what burns us out-- we know this, intuitively. We try to schedule vacations, but alas, there's a global pandemic. You put a screen time limit on your phone, and then remove it a day or two later. You promise yourself you'll get back to the gym...and then, well, things get in the way.
And you find yourself still stuck, in a place of grinding through the days, getting through it all.
Trying to be strong.
Yet strength is not enough. Grittiness and just getting through may be part of our coping strategy, but it isn't a good long term strategy. We WILL burn out, if we aren't careful, especilly those of us who are caregiving professionals.
When researchers have looked at what keeps people from burnout, they found that five essential pillars of resiliency.
Establishing self-awareness and maintaining it is like being an owner of a car. In order to keep it healthy and driving safely, you have to gas it up, take it in for oil changes, and be intuitive not to drive it when it is smoking from the engine. We have to be self-aware in order to prevent burnout. We have limits--resiliency calls us to face those with humor and self-compassion.
Mindfulenss is moment-to-moment nonjudgmental attention. When was the last time you ate a meal without checking your phone? (Guilty here!) How about sitting and watching a sunset, or a bird at a bird feeder? When we are mindful, we allow our brains to rest into the moment--and this rest, we know, is essential to wellness.
Self care gets both too much attention--and not enough. Too much in that simply taking care of yourself is not a cure-all for burnout nor will it maintain resiliency. However, true self care hits all the wellness markers--mind, body and spirit. Emotional wellness, body wellness, establishing healthy sleep patterns, being aware of social media use, boundary management--these are all types of self care that help you gain a foothold back into your power and purpose.
When we feel supported, we do better in life. When we don't have healthy relatioships, we suffer. Where in your life are you putting too much attention into toxic relationships? How can you be clear about what your relational needs are and ask to get those met? Women in particular have difficulty being both aware of what we need in a relationship and how to get those needs met. Having healthy relationships takes time but is essential to having the kind of life of fullness and health we want.
What is your overarching "Why"? Why are you on this planet, why were you "put" here? Answering this question is a practice in both humility and self-confidence. We all have skills and gifts, and owning them and being clear on how to use them in the world takes effort. Why waste precious time?
The Next Step: What Tugs Onto You? (Not for the faint of heart!)
The next step, when we start to evaluate these pillars for ourselves, is to notice which one tugs at you. Which one, when you were reading, brings up an image or thought--perhaps associated with sadness, or grief, or frustration? I invite you to be an observer on that thought or image. Where does this come up for you, and how is it playing out in your life?
A Strategy to Manage Those Negative Thoughts
Here's an example of managing those negative thoughts when we notice we have some work to do. Perhaps you read this list and what grabs your attention is shame that you haven't connected to your best friend in a while. You feel this shame in your belly, an achiness that arises, when you read "Postivie relationships." Notice what comes up in your mind--be an observer of your thoughts. Perhaps the thoughts are saying "you're such a bad friend" or "she isn't going to like you anymore, it's pointless to try." Notice what happens to the sense of shame and how it relates to the feeling in your body when you attend to these thoughts.
Next, take those thoughts and offer a balanced thought--from Resilient Me. If you thought, "You're such a bad friend", ask yourself "what would Resilient Me say?" Perhaps it is more balanced, such as, "I've been really busy and neglected my friendship. I'm feeling sad about this and will plan to connect with her on txt today." Notice when you use this balanced thought what happens to your inner experience. Where is the ache or shame? Has anything changed? Are you feeling more hopeful? Does that make you feel lighter? (If so, congrats! You're doing the work!)
It's Worth the Work
These pillars are essential to making a fulfilling life and moving away from burnout to resiliency. When we treat ourselves with the gift of time for reflection, we are one step closer to finding the light within to help guide us back into the wholeness that is there, just being uncovered.
Finally, reach out if all of this resonates and you're feeling ready to be accountable to your resiliency journey. We are all whole--not broken--and uncovering it takes time and intention, and often a partner in crime! Let's do this!