Just Call Me Mr. Stretchy – How to Restore Your Resilience

With the world being what it is right now, we hear a lot about resilience. We’re all being asked to push through and get things done despite the weight of everything that is happening around us. Resilience is key to being able to weather difficulty without losing it.

But your resilience is like a rubber band. It’s very hard to recover from setbacks when you are still being stretched. If you’re wondering why you find it so difficult to get over a certain thing, ask yourself, is the thing I’m upset about still happening?  If so, give yourself a little bit of a break. Be especially kind to yourself if your resilience rubber band has been stretched for an extended period of time, too. The longer you have held the new shape, the longer it will take to snap back.

So if “the thing you’re upset about” is, you know…..[gestures broadly at everything], what do you do then? Stopping the stretch is outside your control, but you can’t operate in full stretch indefinitely. I have some tips to take that pressure off a tiny bit and let your elasticity – your resilience – recover.

Take Breathers

Sure, you can’t completely stop. But even the busiest person in the world – yes, even you – can take ten minutes. Next time you start to feel overstretched, find ten minutes and lock your computer screen, get up from your chair, and walk away. Go get a glass of cold water and do not go back to your desk until ten minutes is up. If you can, take a quick walk, even if it’s just around the room. Only after at least ten minutes has passed can you log back on. Even those ten minutes of not being urgently responsible for the state of the world does wonders for your ability to snap back later.

Find your team

The biggest thing that lessens the pressure on a single rubber band? More rubber bands! For whatever stressor or pressure that is pulling on you most, take a moment to identify the other people working on that issue. These people might be anyone – from agency leadership or a celebrity to your coworker Maria, who is just as worried about this as you are.  Part of what makes us resilient is teammates –  if we have to put down the burden for a second and shake our muscles out, someone else is holding it up until we’re back.

Scope your response

Just because something is wrong does not mean you, personally, are responsible for fixing it. I swear. Look carefully at what you’ve taken on – are you the best person to address each of these issues? Are you really the only person who can address each of these issues? Chances are, the answer is no. Even if you know you could do it best – or you feel unbearably guilty for asking someone else to do part of it – it can probably be done to quality by someone else.

It is okay to ask other people for help, and eventually, they can become part of your team! Another part of scoping your response is acknowledging the small things you do to help as much as the big things. Sure, it would be great to completely reorganize that filing cabinet – but for now, you put the sticky notes back where they belong after you grabbed a pack. That’s worth something. It’s a small victory. Count it as one.

What about you? What are you doing to snap back into shape? Tell me in the comments!

Melissa “Mel” Kepler is a Training Consultant at LMI and a Gallup-Certified Strengths Coach(TM). Prior to LMI, she did marketing and communications at ODNI for Guidehouse. She also worked in government for over 13 years in a variety of positions, including in the White House Situation Room, as a staff officer, an intelligence analyst, a tradecraft specialist, and an HR professional. She founded the NGA Parents Network during her time at that agency. In her spare time, Mel enjoys drinking a truly inadvisable amount of coffee, laughing at her children, and plotting with her friends.

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