Building Resilience: How to Thrive in the Midst of Struggle

How many times have you been super excited to make some type of change, but came across an obstacle that ended up totally derailing your progress? I know it’s happened to many of my clients. They’ll be going along, practicing their new nutrition skills, when something comes along (LIFE happens) and they feel like they fell off the wagon. That one obstacle can sometimes be the start of what they describe as spiraling out of control, or having a really hard time getting back to what they were working on. It’s incredibly common to think that this is an issue of a lack of motivation. But motivation naturally waxes and wanes. That’s completely normal! There is something else that differentiates the people who keep going when things get tough from the people who get derailed. That thing is called resilience.

Resilience in bounce-back-ability

Resilience was the topic of one of the talks at the conference I attended this weekend. It’s something that applies to all of us, no matter what our goals or intentions. We all have something we’re working towards, and we all have obstacles that get in the way sometimes. Our ability to bounce back from a challenge, take it as a learning opportunity, and continue on when things get tough is resilience.

How Do We Become Resilient?

We all have some resilience naturally. But it’s not just something you’re either born with, or not. It’s also a skill, and like any other skill, it can be practiced and improved.

There are two things that factor heavily into building up our resilience: practicing the ability to bounce back, and also setting ourselves up for success so that we’re not as easily “thrown” when some stressor comes our way. Let’s actually talk about that second one first.

Setting a foundation: lessen your stress

“We have a finite number of “care units”, or sh*ts to give…. So where are you spending them?” – Krista Scott-Dixon

“My Give-a-Damn’s Busted” – Gretchen Wilson

Both of these ideas serve to remind us that we can only handle so much. If we’re already burned out on a bazillion life stresses, the next thing, no matter how small, can be the straw that breaks the camel’s back. The obvious, though not necessarily easy, answer of course is to lessen the overall stress we’re under.

Stress comes in many different forms: emotional, physical, environmental, social, professional, financial, etc. Every single area of life has the potential to cause us stress. It is unavoidable. The key is in managing it. How do we combat or negate the constant onslaught of stressful stimuli?

We fight it by purposefully relaxing and recovering.

“In 2016, recovery doesn’t happen by accident.” – Krista Scott-Dixon

Find things that build you back up, that recharge you. Find things that make you thrive! Then actually DO those things! We so easily get caught up in all of the things we have to do, but we rarely make time to recover and recharge from those things.

Purposeful recharging, relaxation, and de-stressing is a big way in which we build our resilience. If you have to, put it on the calendar. It’s THAT important! When we’re not constantly on the edge of burn-out, it takes a lot more to put us “over the edge.”

What About When We Get Derailed?

There will come a time when something bumps you off course. It will happen, and it’s normal. If we anticipate it, we are better able to handle it. Once that thing happens, one of the best things you can do is practice developing a growth mindset – the idea that growth, learning, and progress is always possible.

Rather than thinking “I failed”, “I suck”, “I can’t do this”, etc, start to change that internal conversation.

If a child tried to do a task, and they had difficulty and couldn’t do it, you wouldn’t tell them “you suck” or “you’ll never get it.” Instead, you’d gently applaud their effort while helping them to find a way they can be successful next time. There is the belief that they WILL get it, with time and practice. They’re not stuck, or fixed, at this result forever. THAT is a growth mindset. Treat yourself with that same mentality!

Try this: When you start to tell yourself “I can’t do this,” add the word “yet.” That one simple word can help you start to see the situation from a growth mindset.

What’s the First Step?

Start adding joyful, recharging, uplifting things to your life so that you’re better armed against the inevitable stresses life sends your way. Build yourself up so that it’s not so easy to get knocked down.[bctt tweet=”Build yourself up so that it’s not so easy to get knocked down.” username=”raisingnutritn”]

Then, each time something potentially derailing comes up, find the positive in it. Add “yet” when you think you can’t do something. Ask yourself how you can move forward in a given situation. And give yourself grace. You CAN move forward and make progress. Find one next step you can take to help yourself get there.

I’ll leave you with the last question that the speaker left us with after her talk: If you wanted to flourish, grow, and/or become more resilient, what might that involve? Think about it! (And feel free to post your answer as a comment!)

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