5 Ways to Build Emotional Resilience
You know that black knight off Monty Python and The Holy Grail? The one that gets his arms and legs chopped off and keeps on fighting, saying "it's just a flesh wound." With the history making, once in hopefully a lifetime Covid19 Pandemic, it's felt a LOT like that. For me, it was moving out on my own after ending a 14 year relationship (there goes one arm) to have Covid19 and "shelter in place" policies hit 2 1/2 weeks later (there goes another arm). I grieved the first week with some anxiety mixed in. The second week was facing the facts about Covid19 as a medical provider, keeping up with the data, figuring out how to adjust my business, come up with policies, etc.. It was utter mayhem and I just lost 2 arms, figuratively speaking. Thankfully, I submerged myself in the divine gifts of a great leader in my local chamber who provided us all with a 4 part John Maxwell series. This really helped me to become a "Leader in Crisis." I quickly launched free webinars and tried to blog weekly. Then my darling cat dies in the most unexpected and tragic way. There goes not only my 2 legs but a jagged stab to the heart as well. (again, figuratively speaking). I was knocked sideways. Losing Mr. Felix was my final blow that just had me broken, shattered, and totally at a loss- literally.
Do you feel like that black knight in some ways, like your limbs have been ripped off? Do you identify with Monty Python's black knight in that no matter what, he just kept fighting? How do you put yourself back together? How do you pick up those broken pieces and move on?
Resilience is about bouncing back, getting yourself back in to shape from a crisis. How resilient are you? Below are some of my top tips to help get you up and out of your emotional turmoil and back into the light.
Take time out
Taking time out to hold space for your emotions is so important. Cry if you need to cry, punch a punching bag or pillow if you're angry, and work through your fears or shadows of self doubt. You must take this time in order to move through the emotion. By moving through it, you will begin to come at peace with it and transform it into joy.
Talk about it
Talking and sharing your story with others allows you to process things in a different way. Be intentional on who you talk to. This isn't the time to sit around and complain. It's one thing to talk through a difficult time in order to get normalization but it's also a time to help you move forward and out of the darkness. So when you are reaching out and choosing who to talk to, please think before you choose. You don't want to talk to the person who drains your energy, makes you feel bad, or judges you. That's not a good choice. Choose the person that will lift you up, help you to see a different perspective, or who will let you cry unapologetically.
There are numerous studies on how exercise helps anxiety and depression. Exercise improves blood flow to the brain which in turn brings all the nutrients and fuel your brain needs to function normally. Also, exercise improves oxygen to the brain. Have you ever held your breath and got dizzy? A stroke can completely destroy various parts of the brain. These are extreme examples on how the lack of oxygen can damage your brain. Protect that noggin' of yours and get out, move, and breathe the fresh air.
Surround yourself with extraordinary people.
When I do my triathlons, I'm always amazed at the people who come out and cross that line. These are ordinary people doing extraordinary things. They truly inspire me. They're the people that aren't skinny and athletic or perfectly fit. Some are much much older and others have recovered from Cancer. I've seen a quadriplegic cross the finish line! These are ordinary people busting through their own limitations! When building resilience and bouncing back from trauma, you may not "know" extraordinary people personally but you can certainly listen to Podcasts, lectures, Ted Talks, etc.. I listen to Dr. Wayne Dyer, John Maxwell, Dr. Keith Johnson, among others. Basically, surround yourself by people you want to be like. Learn from them. Have them help you come out of this a better person. Crisis might break you down but it's an opportunity to help mold you into the person you are supposed to be.
Meditative Breathing, Emotional Freedom Techniques like Tapping, Hypnosis, Guided Meditation, Chi Gong, Thia Chi, and tons of other tools are out there to stop you in the panic mode, bring you back into the present, and will allow you to make better decisions. By bringing yourself AWAY from the "fight or flight" state, you are allowing the parts of your brain for higher functioning to kick in. This is especially important to help your mind heal from the inflammation caused by stress. It allows you to better process what you are going through so that you are better prepared for the next time something comes and knocks you down.
Change your perspective
Instead of getting caught up in the "why me", look for the opportunities that lay at your feet. Pull from your strengths to see how terrible, difficult experiences can teach you compassion, build your character and strength, and can put you in the exact place you are supposed to be. It's tragic and painfully sad that my cat, Mr. Felix, died. It was my final blow during Covid19, but in my moments of being totally unmotivated, I reached out to a few people, had amazing conversations, and was able to see that changes in my own life needed to happen. Felix's death wasn't necessarily the direct lesson; rather, it was the all encompassing feeling of defeat and heartache that forced me to make a pivotal change in my life.
So like it's said in Monty Python, "You're not dead yet", "It's only a flesh wound," but you must pick yourself up, dust yourself off, and rebuild yourself into a better, stronger, more resilient YOU.