I did something for the first time in the past three days. Something that I find extraordinarily difficult. Something that I know I should do and yet, never seem to be able to do it.
It wasn’t so much what I did and more about what I didn’t do. I didn’t do “work” for four entire days. I didn’t check my e-mail. I didn’t clean up that one last project or update my to-do list.
Instead on Friday, I spent the day with my grandkids. On Saturday, I read and watched movies and took a hike. On Sunday, I did a little house project, read some more, took a nap, and met a friend for another hike.
And guess what? The world did not end. Cleaning up the 3-day email backlog took about 45 minutes. I didn’t feel overwhelmed or unprepared or behind when I reentered work on Monday morning.
Just the opposite. I was calm. Focused. Organized. Clearer thinking. Rested. Renewed. Ready to jump into the upcoming week with energy and enthusiasm.
In the period of my life where I was competing in half marathons, I knew the important role that recovery played in performance. Not taking time to rest sore muscles would result in worse performance (as well as general grouchiness).
Believing that I can get “more done” if I work without a physical and mental break is wrong. I know it.
Performance is fostered by renewal. As is resilience.
Resilience is the ability of cells, organs, individuals, organizations, or societies to resist, bounce back from, or successfully adapt to stressors. Stressors come in many forms: viruses or other pathogens, chemotherapy, physical injury, social adversity, or psychological trauma. Resilient people are better able to heal, stay mentally and physically healthy, and maintain mobility or cognitive function.
Simply put: resilience is the capacity to recover quickly from difficulties. When I was running, the stressors were overtaxed muscles and the mental willpower to push beyond my self-inflicted limits. In most jobs today, stressors and difficulties are ever-present:
- The perceived need to be available quickly via text, email, or other productivity tools
- Increasing workloads with less and less staff
- Having to quickly adjust to changing situations
- Ambiguity about the future, near and longer-term
- Managing work, family, and other obligations
I’m certain that each of us could create a rather hefty list of stressors in a mere few minutes.
Resilience is increasingly important in our world today – yet our environment pushes us in the opposite direction – we are on 24/7. We see via social media how “others” are doing (or at least their public face). There is little time to disconnect…to reset or recharge. We are individual versions of the Energizer Bunny, going and going and going until our batteries run out.
The work hard / play hard model might work for a bit. However, in a world where stressors are so ever-present, we are well-served to cultivate healthier ways to renew our energy, refocus our energy, and take the time to recharge regularly before we “hit the wall”.
Before the Internet, you could more easily leave work both physically and mentally. In an agricultural economy, seasons provided time for a more natural flow of work and recovery. Before Edison commercialized the incandescent light, we got more rest.
Practicing renewal enables our minds, bodies, and spirits to rest. And in that time of stillness or rest, healing occurs. Reflection and learning happen. We breathe into a calmness that promotes creativity, focus, and clarity.
Renewal and reflection are necessary but not easy.
Making rest and renewal a higher priority may be your number one strategy to creating the individual resilience that will foster your physical health and well-being, enable clearer and more creative thinking, and build your reservoir of resilience, enabling you to deal with difficulties and bounce back from challenges more quickly and easily.
Here are five ways you can build your own personal resilience:
- Rest & Do Nothing Regularly
Counter-cultural, but give it a try. Get better at just being in the moment and not always doing.
- Find Ways to Reflect
There are many; find the one that works for you. Meditate. Journal. Walk. Do breathwork. Try Yoga.
- Know and Honor Your Values
Get clear on what is most important and use that to guide your day, your decisions, and your life.
- Connect with Positive People
We are a reflection of those we spend time with. Be with others who lift you up and are there for you when needed.
- Practice Gratitude
This is a power play. Five to ten minutes a day can change your outlook, health, and life.