Someone told me this week that I’m brave for sharing my story. But I don’t feel brave. I feel relieved. Because for so long I felt like my depression and anxiety was something shameful that needed to be hidden from other people. I felt weak, damaged and like there was something fundamentally flawed about me.
One of the things that I decided when I overcame my depression was that I would shine a light on it to shoo away the bugs and gremlins that my depressed brain told me existed there. Depression skews things. It takes away sunlight, colour, and perspective. It tells you you’re bad, worthless, toxic. It’s that critical, self doubting voice inside of you on steroids. It drowns out everything else. Until you believe it wholeheartedly.
I’m beyond grateful that I don’t exist in that dark place any more. I haven’t had a bout of clinical depression in 7 years (bar post natal 3 years ago.) But that doesn’t mean I don’t go and visit there every now and then.
A few months ago I was in a darker place. My son was getting bullied terribly in school. I’d been under threat of using my job for almost 2 years. We were struggling for money
Think of resilience as being your personal Teflon coating. We know that life will sometimes get tough and things will be thrown at you that you didn’t anticipate, but having strong resilience will mean that you can withstand, survive and even thrive – during these times.
It means you can bounce back from setback more easily, learn from mistakes and ‘get back on the horse’.
Having personal resilience has been called the number 1 skill of the 21st century.
We all know that life isn’t static. When once change was the exception, now it’s the norm. Whether it’s changes in job, the economy, health concerns or new technology (Google has only existed since 1998!)
But resilience is about more than just getting strong and match fit. It’s about having a solid core of self confidence – knowing your strengths and building on them, understanding what makes you tick, having a sense of purpose and a strong network of support around you.
The good news is, lots of research point to the fact that resilience is built in small ways – a phone call for support here, a walk in the sunshine to take a break from a stressful situation there, a bubble bath, a run, a gratitude list, a lie in, a good laugh.
It’s about appreciating the small pleasures and allowing yourself to take breaks, take stock and decompress.
So What Will YOU Do?
To increase your resilience you need to build in some of these small things on a regular basis. The good news is that it doesn’t take much to restore our equilibrium and build our strength if we don’t let it get too out of whack in the first place. But you DO need to actively do it – these things won’t just happen automatically.
So here’s what to do:
Think of 3 things you can do in the next 7 days to improve your resilience, reduce your stress and strengthen your social bonds. Here are some suggestions:
- Meet a friend for coffee
- read a book
- go for a run
- go on a date night
- go to the movies
- have a pedicure
- go dancing
- write a love letter
- have a game of golf
- visit a new place, or take up a new activity you’ve always fancied trying
Of course there are a million other options you could try but hopefully you get the idea. This is something you OWE yourself and your loved ones. If you don’t take care of you regularly, all the vitamin pills in the world won’t help you. You won’t be able to support your family, friends or do the things you want to do. You’ll be more likely to get sick, to have low energy and to feel unhealthy levels of stress.
Think of these little self care activities as essential maintenance for your body and mind. Think of them in any way that helps you to commit and prioritize them into your life.
photo credit: notsogoodphotography via photopin cc