Get back up

My mum sent me a really helpful image the other day about what we’re currently living through with coronavirus:

It was such a relief to find in this image a reflection of my experience of late – feeling slightly crotchety, not as resourceful or kind to myself as usual and sometimes just in a funk, despite the gorgeous weather outside.

I’ve just finished co-hosting some sessions on resilience at work, supporting people who are feeling less than their best selves. Some may be living in social isolation, trying to juggle work alongside childcare, knowing someone who is seriously ill or feeling anxiety as lockdown eases.

I really benefitted from being reminded about some basics of resilience from putting on these sessions, so thought you might benefit from them too:

Physical resilience:

If we don’t have good physical resilience, we will find it incredibly challenging – if not impossible – to be socially and psychologically resilient.

If you take nothing else from this bit of my writing, it would be this – you need to take care of your physical self.

This isn’t anything fancy, it’s all the boring things we know we should do to take care of ourselves, like:

  • Getting enough sleep
  • Having down time
  • Exercising
  • Eating nourishing food
  • Drinking enough water
  • Limiting screen time (staring fixedly at something can trigger nxiety as it mimics how we’d freeze when faced with a threat, like a wild animal)

I repeat again – without physical resilience, we will snap easier, we will be angrier, we will be buffeted around more by the fear and uncertainty of what’s going on.

So take care of yourself!

For me, I’ve realised that I’m not having enough down time and solitude. I’ve not been taking lunch breaks, I’ve gone from drop off at nursery with my son straight to work and then back to parenting and finally an hour with my husband before we topple into bed to repeat the same thing.

And my son has been waking at around 5am this past week, so it’s been exhausting.

So for the past week, I’ve taken a lunch break, gone outside for some fresh air for some exercise. And when it’s been my husband’s turn to pick up our son from nursery, I’ve taken a nap.

It’s so nice to then have energy to enjoy the evening and stay up past 9pm!

Please continue to hold me to this if you are reading this as a close friend or member of my family.

It’s done the world of good to me and I’ve felt more on an even keel and able to deal with the stresses and strains of this current life due to the small steps I’ve taken to increase my physical resilience.

Social resilience

We humans are pack animals – we can be grounded by those around us (problematic if we have no one physically around us!) and look to others to check that we’re ok. And so when we’re going through a situation and people are panicking en masse, the opposite can also be true – our resilience can be reduced if those we are in contact with are freaking out.

It sounds simple – and it is – but it’s good to remember and think about who you are spending your time with (whether that’s physically who is at home and how they’re dealing with things or who you’re in contact with on social media).

The answer?

Maybe choose who you are in contact with! Or balance it out a bit with calmer people.

And look at how you can protect yourself from those whose anxiety or anger or sadness (or whatever) is so big that they’re unable to step away from it.

A good thing you might be able to try is speaking to what they’re going through “I can tell you’re feeling anxious, what might help?” instead of getting drawn into it their feelings yourself or getting a wave of anxiety thrown onto you that you then have to deal with.

And boundaries!

You have the right to protect yourself and ask for what you need in a relationship.

This might be something like “I can tell this is a big deal for you, but I’d value if we could talk about other things that are happening besides covid-19. So can we talk about this for five minutes and then draw a line there? I promise I’ll be all ears to hear you during this time”

I can’t say, as someone who can find it challenging to put a new boundary in place, that I’d be super at ease saying something like this. But I know that this might need to happen if I was with someone who was amplifying their anxiety on me.

And I’m reminded of the trite but very true saying that ‘those who mind don’t matter, and those who matter don’t mind’.

It’s helpful to remember that we feel group anxiety and it can seep into us even if we’re not feeling anxious about anything. So it’s even more important to take care of your physical resilience and, if you’re thinking ‘why aren’t I coping so well?’ remember to be kind to yourself. The ‘not coping’ might be down to the anxiety of others.

Another HUGE factor in resilience is our psychological resilience and I have so much to share with you. But I know that I don’t currently have the right mental bandwidth to write about it now. I’m tired and ready for a pre-lunch nap!

So it’ll have to wait for a follow-up post.

I hope this has been a helpful share, whether it’s a reminder about resilience or new information to you about how you might increase your resilience right now.

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