RESILIENCE SERIES – This is the third article I’ve recently written on this important topic. I’ve talked about the unhelpful dismissive approach to just suck it up, toughen up, or drop your expectations; and I’ve shared a personal story to illustrate how stress can deplete anyone’s resilience levels.
Everyone has tough times in their life, and some of us have even chosen stressful jobs or challenging environments, so coping mechanisms require daily effort. Being able to bounce back or rise up from the knocks is good in theory, but that’s easier said than done.
I often hear encouraging words or admirable phrases stated, like:
‘I love how you just bounce back … you seem to rise up even stronger … you are so resilient. I’d be devastated, but you move on so quickly …’
Yes, I’ve had that said of me. As a change champion, challenger of unacceptable status quo, passionate advocate for diversity and equality in leadership, and a fair go for all; I’ve experienced plenty of push backs and slam downs. Having strong inner values, beliefs, genuine and transparent intentions, is the stuff that drives me to lead change for greater good outcomes; it also helps keep my personal power at optimum levels. However, nothing in life is a ‘set and forget’ cemented certainty.
Resilience comes from accepting uncertainty; being alert, agile, and just like a muscle, continually building and nourishing both your inner strength, and outer strength. I’ve learned from personal experience, that the resilience bucket often needs a top up. Ongoing stress can have a negative effect on your WHOLE body:
Your mental health, impacting on all three thinking centres [or brains]:
- your head [analysing and questioning],
- your heart [feelings and emotional responses],
- your gut or intuition [a deep inner knowing or sense], and;
Your physical health – impacts of reduced energy, increased tiredness, headaches, joint pains, poor eating, over-drinking; it’s very easy to drain the bucket when stress takes over.
Recently, at an Institute of Managers and Leaders forum on creating mentally healthy workplaces, I was asked what I do to mitigate stress and keep my resilience levels strong. Great question. It’s fair to say the openness of my answer took a few by surprize, but I’m a ‘tell-it-like-it-is’ presenter. So, here’s the full version …
My 6-S STRESS-BUSTING STRATEGY … a routine that I schedule daily [well 5/6 of them].
SUNSHINE – It is well known that sunshine provides the Vitamin D boost we need for overall health. Vitamin D helps strengthens our bones, muscles and our immune system. Numerous studies show that sunshine provides a natural high by stimulating the release of happy hormones in our body, like serotonin and dopamine.
Born in Queensland, I’ve always loved the sunshine. I walk every weekday at sunrise, often taking amazing photos [like the featured one] and greeting each new day as awakening golden opportunities. On weekends, I love lying poolside in the sun [less time than I used to], either reading or writing blog outlines. Actually, I’m far more creative when I’m out in the sun, away from my computer.
SEA – Water just seems to energise and refresh us. Apparently, sea air is full of healthy negative ions that helps our body to absorb more oxygen. Of course, the sea water has wonderful healing powers. Ever noticed if you have a cut or a crack on your foot, how much better it is after dipping it in the sea? It’s the iodine found in sea water which helps the body fight infection and boosts thyroid function.
From years of career focused regional moves, one thing I know for sure – I must live by the sea. I feel healthier, happier and more energised from breathing the salt air, watching the waves, and walking in the shallow breaks. It is my intention to always live by the sea; my must-have energy source home base after work travel.
SAND – Like many of you, I have a love-hate relationship with sand; but tipped more towards love than hate. Sand in my joggers is annoying, sand in my swimmers is gross, sand in my hair means washing it again, sand on the patio means more sweeping. Grit where grit shouldn’t be is not nice, ok? But kick those shoes off and feel the relaxation from unrestricted barefoot walks. It’s so good for your feet and legs; great strength training and a naturally exfoliating foot massage. Who needs a foot spa?
One of the visuals I marvel at is how the sand on the beach differs every day; the patterns, ridges, sparkles, and shells; I never get tired of checking it out. Sitting on a sand dune under a palm tree is my favourite reflection and thinking spot. Stress melts away and solutions bubble to the surface.
STRETCHING – Ah, now this one is a more recent addition to my stress busting list, but vitally important - especially for a writer. We all spend too long sitting at computers, or in lounge chairs, or in cars and transport. Taking a break every few hours for a good stretch is an effective way to breath out the negative fumes, and breath in the positive vibes. Flexibility is crucial for resilient minds and bodies.
I love my yoga stretches on the beach at sunrise. Years ago, I stopped caring what other people think as they walk past; I've learned to just zone out of the white noise and listen to my inner voice. This year I've also added guided meditation to my stretch and beach stroll time. It is amazing how relaxed, yet focused I am after that. Try it.
SWIMMING – Honestly, swimming has so many benefits, I could write a blog just on that, as I’m sure others have. There is something totally cleansing and head clearing about fully immersing oneself into refreshing water, stretching out and moving through to create your own rhythmic waves.
I mostly swim laps in the evenings. I love the dark sky, blue lit water, and having the pool to myself [we live in a shared complex]. It’s my end of the day release; my mind de-clutter exercise.
SEX – Now, I’m sure I don’t need to explain this three-letter word in any detail. Remember this is MY stress-busting list, so I get that not everyone may agree with me. Seriously though, scientific research explains why sex [done well = orgasms], has a powerful and natural stress relief effect; there’s this double-whammy cocktail rush of oxytocin and endorphins that gets released from the brain. Happy juices.
Which leads me to the seventh S; it’s really an outcome from all the other 6-S’s. SMILING. I smile alot these days. Happiness is the key to filling your resilience bucket. Your happiness levels will grow when you do less of the things that deplete your energy and do more of those things that fuels your energy.
So … declutter your life of the heavy stuff. Know what re-energises you. Come up with your own 3-7 action stress-busting strategy, and make sure you schedule those things into your week. Continue to build your inner and outer resilience muscle.
Life is too short to be anything but happy.
RESILIENCE is a self-management EQ competency that you can build and strengthen. Ask us about our development tips and coaching support.
Written by Jilinda Lee - recognised leadership coach and mentor for leaders and managers, the Institute of Managers and Leaders, and champion partner of the Lean In global movement – encouraging and enabling more women to step up into lead roles.
Vital Leaders mission is to develop more dynamic, authentic, and emotionally intelligent, engaging leaders. All Vital Leaders programs have embedded emotional intelligence development in their core frameworks.