Each year I have a word for the year.
Last year, my word was “Courage”.
Little did I know that 2021 was the year I needed a whole heap of courage. Not only was I running a face-to-face business during a global pandemic, dodging snap lock-downs and managing all the uncertainty, it was also the year I suffered a lot of loss. My husband lost his mother and stepfather, I lost 4 friends to cancer, my sister-in-law lost her cousin and many close friends lost loved ones as well. I have never experienced so much loss in a year, and it had a significant impact on me. And then in July, I was given the news that I had breast cancer for the second time. Yet another experience that required a whole heap of courage.
When I look back on 2021, the word ‘Courage’ seemed a very appropriate word which helped me get through a really tough year and helped me end the year with an incredible amount of grace and gratitude. And the thing that got me through such a tough year was resilience.
So, I thought my first blog for the year would be on how to build resilience in the face of continued uncertainty, worry, stress and overwhelm.
As women, we tend to carry a very heavy emotional load. Constantly meeting the needs of others, needing to be resilient for our kids and often not having very much left for ourselves. Pandemic depletion is real, and many women are feeling less resilient in the face of uncertainty, leading to increased stress and worry and having a negative impact on our overall wellbeing.
Resilience is like a muscle you can build over time. With practice and dedication, anybody can become more resilient. I like to think of resilience as a state of being.
So, when we talk about what we can do to build our resilience, it’s not as simple as saying: Do these 10 things every day and you will become more resilient. Instead, it’s about doing a variety of things consistently over time.
When we are more resilient in the face of uncertainty, it can lead to incredible personal growth. Challenges often presents themselves as necessary roadblocks in life to challenge our personal growth. My terrible year actually turned out to be an incredible year of profound growth.
So here are some ways that helped me build my resilience muscle over the last year and these are things that I will continue to prioritise over the coming year.
1. Connection with others
If the last 2 years have shown us anything, it’s the importance of connection. Isolation has meant that we have felt very disconnected and lost. Our sense of belonging has been threatened in more ways than one. Belonging is one of our basic human needs so when that is taken away from us, it creates a great amount of stress and fear in the body. One of the best predictors of how we go in the face of adversity is the connection we have with others. So, this year, make it a priority to connect more with others. The more connected you are to other people—the more people you care about and who care about you—the more resilient you’re likely to be.
Self-love was something that I really learnt to cultivate in 2021 and has had an incredible impact on my life after my breast cancer diagnosis. Self-love is key to building resilience, but it’s also one of the things that tends to fall by the wayside when we’re feeling stressed or depleted.
When you love yourself unconditionally, which means the way you talk to yourself and treat yourself, the more resilient you will feel because when you have a bucket load of self-love, you are telling yourself that you are worth it. Lack of self-worth is a huge problem for women, feeling like we are never enough. The more you can cultivate self-love and telling yourself that you are worth getting through the tough seasons, the more resilient you will become. So, this year find ways to shine the light on yourself and shower yourself with love every day.
3. Self Care
This follows on from self-love. When we love ourselves, self-care becomes easier and we learn to prioritise ourselves better, because we know we’re worth it. When it comes to self-care, there’s so much we could talk about. So, let’s focus on the core three: sleeping, eating, and moving. There’s a lot we know about how taking care of our bodies through proper sleep, movement, and nourishment can impact our mental health. This is about focusing on the mind-body connection. If we’re not taking care of our bodies, it impacts us not just physically but mentally and emotionally, and that impacts our resilience. Self-care is not selfish, nowadays it is absolutely necessary!
4. Acknowledge opportunities for personal growth
We didn’t experience everything from the last 2 years for nothing. Every situation has the ability to teach us a lesson, remind us why we’re here and further our growth. Even traumatic experiences can teach us how to cope when bad things happen.
I’ve managed to learn many valuable lessons about myself through my experiences. I have healed the trauma from some very deep wounds that I had ignored for years. All the experiences over the last couple of years have enabled me to have some significant personal growth. So, take some time to reflect on the growth you have experienced over the last couple of years. You are not the same person you were a year ago. Think about how you have changed into the person you are today.
When we are forced to exist outside of our comfort zone, it forces us to change. Your life is a cycle and if you think about the life cycle of a caterpillar and the changes it endures over a period of time to eventually emerge as a beautiful butterfly, the change we are going through doesn’t seem so bad.
Sometimes stress, pain and worry can create beauty on the other side of it all. Let 2022 be the year that you rise above it all. When we start to see our hardships as opportunities for self-growth, this will help build your resilience muscle.
5. Have things to look forward to
All the uncertainty of the pandemic has made it difficult to plan for the future, which means it’s extra important to plan things that you can look forward to. Even little things to look forward to can go a long way. Whether that’s regular catch up with friends, a weekend away, family over for a dinner, a trip to the beach or a hobby you’ve always wanted to pick up, having things to look forward to can help us make it through the day.
6. Cultivate more joy in your life
It might feel strange to find moments of joy in your life when there is so much suffering in the world right now, but one way to build resilience is to redirect your focus from the outside world and put more focus on your internal world. Focusing on those small moments that bring joy to your life. That could be laughing with your kids on the playroom floor, watching a sunrise or a sunset, cuddles with your pet on the lounge. There are so many ways to cultivate joy and enjoy the precious moments that make up each day, which ultimately make up your life. If we are constantly distracted by all the noise of the outside world, we will miss those opportunities that can bring so much joy into our life.
7. Connect with your passion and purpose
Having a strong sense of meaning or purpose is another key in helping build resilience. This year, spend more time focusing on what gives meaning to your life. This can be small things or big things. If you’re not sure what gives you a sense of meaning, now is a good time to start trying to figure it out. A global pandemic can really put things in perspective. Now is the time to think about what is really important to you and what are the things that you value most in life. Write it down in a journal and take time to reflect on whether your life reflects those things. If not, now is the time to make some changes so that your life feels more in alignment with your passion and purpose.
8. Re-frame your negative thoughts
It’s very easy to get caught up in a negative thought spiral and this can severely impact your resilience. Your mind does not control you; you have the ability to control your mind so when you feel yourself spiraling with negative thought patterns, awareness is key. Having a mediation and mindfulness practice to help bring your awareness back to the present moment will help turn those negative thoughts into more positive ones. As humans we are incredibly skilled at ruminating on the past or worrying about the future. It’s time to take back control of your mind and stop focusing on the negativity around you and focus more on the positive things in your life – this is key to building resilience!
9. Practice gratitude
It’s a tiny habit to pick up, but a little gratitude goes a long way in feeling content and emotionally and mentally healthy. Find a way to practice gratitude each day, whether that’s ending each day by writing a sentence in a gratitude journal or committing to running through a list of three things you’re grateful for while having a shower. Gratitude is the golden key to happiness and when you’re happier, you’re going to be more resilient.
10. Practice self-compassion
You’re going to have bad days, days when you don’t feel very strong or resilient and want to stay in bed and hide from the world. That’s not only okay; it’s completely necessary. When we give ourselves some space to have a bad day, take time to acknowledge our feelings and emotions, by the following day we’re probably able to do a little bit better. But if we keep pushing through and being hard on ourselves, we can find ourselves in a deeper hole. So it’s time to be kinder to yourself and learn how to talk back to that inner mean girl that loves to put you down. Every time you hear that voice in your head telling you you’re not doing enough, stand tall and take a moment to breathe. Say to yourself, ‘Yes this is really difficult for me right now, so how can I comfort and care for myself in this moment to help me through this time?’ Remind yourself daily that you are worthy of self-compassion.
While this time in our lives is an opportunity to build skills that support our resilience, the last thing we want to do is put pressure on ourselves. Part of being resilient is being forgiving of yourself and allowing yourself to not always be the most productive or always on top of it all.
Sometimes all we need is the chance to just be.
If you’re looking for an opportunity to build more resilience this year, why not join us on retreat. A retreat is a unique experience that allows you to go on a beautifull journey of self-discovery. You can check out our retreat offerings at www.hartretreats.com/retreats.
Beautifully said and a gorgeous reminder of the light that comes from sometimes dark times. Feeling your courage and grateful for that.
Thank you my beautiful friend. I feel your courage too and grateful we get to journey this beautiful life together xx