Our resilience is the driving force that keeps us moving forward through the challenges life throws at us. Whether the big challenges of life like new careers, health challenges, dealing with loss and navigating a global pandemic, or the smaller everyday challenges of work, relationships and just getting through the day, our resilience is the source of our energy and motivation.
The wonderful paradox of resilience is that it can be self sustaining. Understanding how our resilience sustains us and gets us through challenges can actually give us more resilience to help strengthen us even further.
But simply “leaning into challenges” isn’t the only source of our resilience. People with deep sources of resilience tend to also have a deep understanding of how they can “recharge” themselves and renew their inner strength. Often this comes from understanding what it is that makes us feel good and gain inner sustenance. Being in nature, connecting with people, pursuing a passion, exercise, time with kids, sleep – all of us have different ways to recharge, re-energise and renew our resilience.
Summer can be the ideal time of the year for this recharging. Time to take a break, take stock, renew energy, find purpose and create more space and time for the activities that help us renew.
So how can we use our summer months to even more consciously focus on self care, renewal and recharging our resilience? Here’s a few ideas:
Spend time sleeping more
One of our most effective sources of resilience is getting enough sleep. Daily lives full of early starts and late finishes can make getting enough sleep challenging, so the summer months can be a great opportunity to practice increasing those sleep hours. “Adequate sleep is the precursor to all the functions needed for optimal job performance (whilst) not getting enough sleep increases stress hormones and hinders decision-making and problem-solving.
Spend time outdoors
Simply being outside in nature can help us escape the stresses of everyday life and renew our resilience and capability. A recent study by psychologists from the University of Utah and University of Kansas showed that backpackers scored 50% better on a creativity test after spending four days in nature, disconnected from the distractions of electronic devices.
Spend time with friends and family
Relationships can be at the heart of our support networks and resilient, both through the informal support of those around you and by consciously connecting to support each other through life challenges. “Not only can our relationships help us to be resilient, but they enable us to strengthen the skills associated with resilience. Relationships that foster growth can strengthen resilience through connection.”
Spend time doing exercise
Exercise is a vital tool in helping the brain develop and strengthen to react to life’s challenges. “Among many beneficial effects, exercise intervention has been associated with cognitive improvement and stress resilience and … the literature indicates that brain/cognitive reserve built up by regular exercise in several stages of life, prepares the brain to be more resilient to cognitive impairment”.
Spend time reflecting on your passion and purpose
Part of getting away from work should be precisely for that, to get away and switch off from it. But getting distance from our everyday routines is also a great opportunity to reflect on why we do what we do when we are doing it. Being clear on our purpose in life “predicts both health and longevity suggesting that the ability to find meaning from life’s experiences, especially when confronting life’s challenges, may be a mechanism underlying resilience.”
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