Resiliency, simply put, is our ability to bounce back when things go wrong. It doesn’t mean that resilient people don’t cry or get angry or feel pain – it’s really important not to bury those emotions, when things are bad; you’ve got to process them.
What it does mean is that resilient people process things quicker, they’re less likely to get overwhelmed by those feelings and get stuck there, so they move on faster.
The coronavirus epidemic has brought a heightened level of change and we’re all getting used to a new normal.
This change has knocked a lot of us around emotionally – leading to new levels of anxiety, fear and sadness.
The Change Curve
The first step to moving on is to understand what you’re feeling. And perhaps the best way to understand what we’re all going through is to look at the Change Curve, which was originally created by Elisabeth Kubler-Ross in 1969 to describe the stages of grief.
Today, we use this same model to show the stages that people go through when they experience any crisis or major change. Here’s a look at the Coronavirus Change Curve.
It’s worth poiting out here that not everyone goes through each stage, and some people spend longer in one stage than in others, while others skip some stages altogether.
Globally, we appear to be moving onto sadness at the moment, and maybe even some acceptance. But individually, some people might still be in denial or anger phases. Again, this is completely normal. And even if you’ve moved past the acceptance phase, we’re living in an uncertain and extremely volatile world at the moment, so it’s possible that other events, such as an economic downturn, could take you back to the beginning of the curve again.
The point of this exercise is to understand your emotions better, not to see who has progressed through the curve the fastest.
What stage do you think you’re in?
Maintaining Your Resilience so You Can Move on
I’ve been interviewing people all around the world to understand why some people are resilient, and others not. Or why we’re resilient one day, and not the next.
My research is showing that resilient people – the people who deal with whatever life throws at them – have balance across three key foundations:
1. Meaning and Purpose: Firstly, they have meaning and purpose in their lives and this is often tied to a strong sense of identity and self. This is about having something to get you out of bed in the morning, and about having goals, plans and commitments.
2. Community and Connection: Secondly, they have strong community and connection. They have a core group of people they can talk to and depend on.
3. Health and Wellbeing: Thirdly, they practice and prioritise positive habits for a healthy body and mind. It could be getting out into nature for walks, going to the gym, or playing on a sports team, or it could be meditation, drinking water, and making sure they get 8hrs of sleep. The activity itself is less important, the main point is that resilient people prioritise their preferred self-care habits, even when life gets busy.
So to keep your resilience high during these times, stay focused on maintaining your balance across these 3 areas.
3 Tips to Re-gain Your Balance
Here are some really practical things you can do to boost your resiliency through all this.
1. If you don’t have a job at the moment, you still need purpose. So set a goal and work towards it. Think of things you can master, like a new language or new instrument, launch a new website, or complete a good DIY project that will take a few days/weeks, or start a new course on one of the many free online learning platforms, like EdX which has courses from some of the top universities in the world. Try to think of long-term activities that will make you feel proud when you’ve accomplished them.
2. If you’re stuck at home, particularly if you live alone, make a point to video chat with someone every day, and just a side point, mindless scrolling on social media is not connecting with people, in fact it has the opposite effect.
3. And if you are now working from home, make a deal with yourself that you will stand up, stretch and walk every time you take a phone call or video conference. Sitting for extended periods of time is really bad for you!
What happens next?
Right now, we’re all just trying to get through the uncertainty of the Coronavirus and adjust to this new world. But once we get through this period of uncertainty, what will be waiting for us on the other side?
If there’s one thing we can be sure of, it’s that there will be more change. We’re in the middle of a Change Storm – experiencing more change, more often than ever before. We’ve been busy, stressed and overwhelmed and it’s made us sick. It’s led to loneliness, burnout and chronic stress and anxiety, and it crosses all demographic categories. Moving forward, the levels of change certainly won’t decrease. They may even continue to increase. Our resiliency will continue to be tested.
However, we’re already learning a lot of really good lessons from this pandemic. Coronavirus is making us stop. It’s making us slow down.
Forced isolation is teaching us to explore boredom and get creative, which research shows both lead to increases in happiness. It is teaching us how to unplug, and re-connect with family. It is helping us to value the simpler things in life. In short, it will bring us a lot of joy.
I was talking to a colleague this week who mentioned that she had been baking with her kids and they’d started a garden together and she had really loved spending the quality time with them. That time normally would have been spent being stressed while driving to and from afterschool sports and activities and commuting to and from work and on the million acitivities we feel we have to do every day and week.
So, I’m hopeful for the future. Once we get through the next few months, I think you’ll find we come out even more resilient and mentally stronger.