As we get closer to the holiday season, I am flooded with a myriad of emotions. I am grateful for my life. I adore my family, have lifelong friends who are as close as family and I get to experience deeply satisfying work, empowering wonderful people to live healthier, more vibrant lives. And I have enjoyed the added bonus of having many of my clients turn into personal friends as well.
But life is complicated. We all have responsibilities – both things we want to do and things we must do – but some of them come seemingly out of nowhere and require our immediate attention. Somehow we’re never quite prepared for the illness of someone close to us, that flood in the basement or the crashing of the computer (which ironically happened to me yesterday, and today my website crashed, too!).
For the most part, we do a pretty good job of handling it all. I know from personal experience that it is not always easy. I never underestimate the strength and energy that it takes to keep things going on a daily basis, especially when that unexpected monkey wrench gums up the works. But today I want to bring your attention to strength’s cousin – resilience.
Where strength leaves off, resilience picks up. Strength gets you through the tough times, and resilience is what we need to thrive. It’s the kind of elasticity that allows us to bend with the wind, and to be able to find a new road to travel when the one we know is no longer passable.
Several years ago, I got a call from my mother. It’s the call no one wants to get. She said those dreaded words: “Honey, we have a problem,” and then proceeded to tell me that she was diagnosed with ovarian cancer. The next year was tough, but we dug in and did what we had to do. I canceled anything that got in the way, and then I got to work. I moved my mother up from Florida and into my house, I put her on a healing crisis diet, took her to doctors and did whatever I could do to help her. That took strength from both of us.
We were so fortunate. She recovered! At 86 my mother was given a new lease on life. Here is where resilience comes in. She was weak and tired. She knew she had to give up her home in Florida to move closer to me so I could continue to help her. She could have been sour about it, but she wasn’t. She was so determined to focus on building a new life.
We found her a place of her own 10 minutes from my house. She adopted a new vegan lifestyle that has provided her with health and rebuilt her vitality. She went out and found places to play competitive bridge and found a partner or two. She started teaching bridge in a couple of places and has become a sort of celebrity in the local bridge community. She did this herself, yes, at 86 years of age. I can promise you that you won’t find a better example or resilience at work.
For some people, resilience comes naturally, but for others, it’s a skill that needs cultivating. I have learned by watching the transformation in my own mother that resilience is an overwhelmingly valuable asset. I’d like to offer you a few of the tips I use to reinforce resilience in myself and my clients:
- Where focus goes, energy flows. Thinking about the things that give you joy will help you create it. It’s easy to get stuck in a rut of negative thinking but you can change your mind. In fact, you are the only one who can! When negative thoughts come, push them away. Make a conscious decision to take control. It won’t necessarily happen overnight, but with consistent effort, you will begin to see progress.
- Meditation can be a powerful tool to help you feel refreshed and renewed. Taking time to clear your mind of all the noise and distractions have been proven to reduce stress, control anxiety and enhance self-awareness. Click here for a list of programs that you can access, many with free trials.
- Eat more healthy, natural foods. The less processed and more natural foods you eat, the more resilient your body and mind will be. Chemicals that are used in processing food make it hard for the body to digest. Digestion is the hardest work your body must do and making that process easier frees up energy you need for living a more productive and satisfying life.
- Stay hydrated. If you know me, you know I talk about hydration a lot. That’s because hydration is as important for your body and mind as oxygen (without which you cannot live). Staying hydrated actually allows all your cells to function most efficiently, and a lack of hydration forces your body and your mind to operate at a deficit. Aim to consume ½ your body weight in water ounces per day.
- Get enough rest. If you want to enjoy a vibrant, energized life your body and mind need rest, which means getting enough sleep. Our bodies only have the energy to heal while we sleep. To be healthy, strong and resilient, sufficient sleep is essential. Your future self will thank you for the sleep you get today.
- Connect with others. Studies have shown that the time we spend connecting with others is invaluable for our psychological well-being. In fact, it is one of the most important things we can do for our health. Call a friend or family member and make a date to meet someone for lunch, a cup of coffee or to go for a walk. One connection every day can make a significant difference in your overall health.
- Get outside and walk. I must say this is a personal favorite for me. I work from home and so I can easily be inside all day long… except, thankfully I have a dog who insists we go out (Hugo to the rescue!). BUT knowing what I know now, even if it were not for Hugo, I would take a break and get outside every day. A walk in the fresh air, looking up at the sky – even when it’s grey – makes everything better. Whenever possible, take a little time and go to a park, or the beach… there is real magic in getting outside, changing our environment and breathing fresh air.
I hope you find some of these tips helpful and would love to know if there are other things you do to promote your own healthy lifestyle and resilience.