Resilience: It’s Your Life Owner’s Maintenance Manual

Whether you buy a car or a blender, it comes with an owner’s manual with instructions, cautions and troubleshooting.  We know that a car needs fuel and regular maintenance such as oil changes and brake checks to keep us safely on the road. We don’t come with a manual. This is what resilience is about: your life owner’s maintenance manual.

If you don’t fuel your car, it won’t go far. And if you ignore simple regular maintenance? Not much better. Keep that up for a while, and your car will end up as a pile of rusty junk in your driveway. Simple and straightforward. But how about you: do you tend to attend or to ignore your own fuelling and maintenance? What are the consequences on your physical and mental health? On your quality of life? Of course, you can get some repair for the bits and pieces that are used up or no longer function, but you can’t buy a new life.

So here are a few things to know about your life owner’s manual, with basic care tips you can start doing today, so you don’t end up stranded and out of fuel.

Driving your car longer requires more fuel and maintenance – obvious. It’s the same with your life. In pandemic times, you drive yourself a lot more, with work and life space blurring, with kids in and out of school, or afraid of losing your income. Lots to deal with, lots of challenges and stress that demand more fuel and maintenance. Only, in times of major upheavals like this pandemic, we tend to ignore the basics: it’s of such magnitude, how could something like self-care help at all?

Remember your life owner’s manual: don’t neglect yourself. Without you at the wheel, with a good engine and gas, you’re powerless. Your power comes from your resources, vision and skills to deal with all the turmoil… to stay sane and functional – and as happy as you can be.

Resilience is not “bouncing back” to the past, or pretending nothing is happening. It’s taking a good hard look at reality, and using your available resources, skillset and vision, find new ways to keep going, and to make the most of real-life circumstances. Ahh, so easy to say, not so easy to do! But this is what humans are about: finding new ways, learning, changing, and thriving.

This pandemic is not the end of the world; it’s the end of some good things and some bad things. It’s both a challenge and an opportunity. Do you remember a year ago stuck in traffic on the way to a work meeting and dreaming of slowing down and working from home? Or how if only you could take your business to virtual? Or only if you could start a new life? Well, it’s become a reality – only it doesn’t look like the dream.

Right now, what you most need is a reliable, fuelled, well-maintained vehicle (I’m talking about you) to take you through the next steps. Here are some of the basics:

  1. If you work from home: create a separate, quiet space for work – and only work. Even just a corner in your kids’ bedroom, with something to define it. So, you can go to work, and go home. Simple.
  2. If you work for home: have a work schedule, with regular hours – and don’t check emails or revisit work outside of work hours. You need down time to rest and restore yourself (this is fuelling up, in human terms)
  3. If you live alone: create social opportunities even if they’re not perfect. Having coffee virtually might not be fantastic, but it’s better than nothing. Instead of thinking all-or-nothing, go for a 10% improvement.
  4. If you live with other people: create alone time. Go for a walk, or read in a quiet place. You need down time to reconnect with yourself.
  5. Get yourself on a low-technology diet: all the news really build stress, and watching them doesn’t change anything. So, turn off the phone, social media… Pick up a hobby; read or write a book; learn to paint, weld or knit – and have fun starting something….
  6. Get yourself to bed at a reasonable time, get enough sleep. Sleep deprived makes you a prime candidate for stress, anxiety, burnout and discouragement. You need a minimum of seven hours of sleep per night.
  7. Go outside. I live in Ottawa, Canada. It’s cold here. November tends to be dreary, but it’s no excuse to stay in and feel miserable. Get outside, breathe, walk, and you’ll feel much better. And even 15 minutes count to bring up your spirits and give you much needed exercise.
  8. Get out of inertia mode: believing that if you do nothing, things will fall into place? Or that it’s not your responsibility? Well, are you ready to live the consequences of doing nothing and expecting something in return? Take initiative and take a small step today – any of the points above will work, if you do them. Just dreaming? Not enough.

Life is as beautiful as you decide it can be. Start with taking care of the basics: your life owner’s maintenance; your resilience right now. The choices you make today support your life and give you the energy you need to face reality, one day at a time. Be acutely aware that this moment, right now, is part of your life. See the possibilities… And take care of yourself…

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