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. But we don’t come with a manual, and 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 oil changes and other 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.

How about you: do you attend or ignore your own fuelling and maintenance? What are the consequences on your physical and mental health? On your quality of life? You can repair some, but you can’t buy a new life, so here are a few tips about your life owner’s manual, small steps you can start doing today, so you don’t end up stranded and out of fuel.

More demands, more work and more change means you need more fuel and maintenance – not less. With all the changes of this past year, with work and life space blurring, with kids in and out of school, there is a lot more on your plate. Add to this the anxiety of an uncertain future, and this is a lot to deal with. But especially when there is so much going on, it becomes easy to forget about yourself. The result? Absolute exhaustion: surge fatigue (read more about this in my blog post entitled Surge Fatigue). What small steps can you take today, to support yourself?

Your life owner’s manual comes with self-responsibility. You lead your own life, you decide, you choose, you live the consequences. Resources are essential, and so are basic skills and your sense of where what you do takes you. Are you heading in the right direction? Are your choices building your quality of life?

Resilience is not about “bouncing back” to the past, or pretending nothing is happening. It’s taking a good hard look at reality, and using your available resources, skills and vision to find how you can support yourself to keep going, and to make the most of real-life circumstances. We humans have this amazing ability to assess situations, find new ways, change, grow and thrive. And this is what resilience is about, in a nutshell.

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 yourself to refuel your own resources, using simple skills and a good sense of GPS to take you through the next steps of your life.

Here are a few small steps to improve your resilience and quality of life today:

  1. If you work from home, give yourself a work-only quiet space for work, so you can go to work and leave work.
  2. Have a work schedule and keep it – don’t check emails or revisit work outside of work hours.
  3. Plan 30 minutes after your workday to rest and refuel before you tackle your evening.
  4. Build 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.
  5. Build alone time too: go for a walk, or retreat to a quiet spot to rest or read. No demands, no guilt.
  6. Turn off your technology, phone, emails and social media… Pick up a hobby; read or write a book; learn to paint, weld or knit – and have fun starting something….
  7. Go to bed at a reasonable time and get enough sleep. Sleep deprivation makes you a prime candidate for stress, anxiety, burnout and discouragement. You need a minimum of seven hours of sleep per night.
  8. Go outside in fresh air and natural daylight to breathe, walk, and you’ll feel much better. And even 15 minutes will bring up your spirits and give you much needed exercise.
  9. Stop being on inertia mode: believing that if you do nothing different, things will fall into place? Or that it’s not your responsibility? Doing nothing will get you nothing, so take a small step today – any of the points above will work, if you do them. Just dreaming? Not enough.

Life is always better when you have enough energy to deal with it, instead of dragging yourself, stagnating in a pool of powerlessness. Take 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. Today is part of your life: make better choices, that work for you.

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