No matter where you are in the world, November is a time of year when we can come up against many natural life stressors. Maybe you are driving for end-of-year fiscal and performance results in your business or at work – it’s been another tough year again this year for many financially. If you are in Canada, this is the time of year when the days are getting shorter, and it’s darker and more dreary outdoors, which can put pressure on your mental well-being. It’s also a time of year for many with additional holiday stressors and over-indulging that comes from the expectations we have to make the holiday season meet your family’s expectations and, that time for holiday and social gatherings. Regardless of where you are or what stressors you are facing, let’s look at what we can do and how we can work to ramp up our resilience so that we can get through these seasonal stressors now or that lie ahead in the weeks to come.
Resilience is a “capacity”. By definition, “resilience” is “the capacity to recover quickly from difficulties” and is associated with “toughness”. This is a positive way for us to deal with stress in our lives—whether big or small. Since it is a “capacity” this means it is something that we can build and strengthen – just like our capacity for physical activity and exercise. Just like a muscle – for instance, your biceps – when you put your resilience under stress (load) – like when you pick up a dumbbell – it adapts and gets stronger over time. This is called ‘adaptation to imposed demands’. Check out this article on Harvard Health on how to ramp up your resiliency.
Just like in training, when we challenge our physical body as a result of the imposed demand, we build it to become stronger. However, there is a point where too much load or stress can cause breakdown/injury and we can apply the same principles and response to mental well-being. For this reason, you need to be ready with tools to support and enhance mental health and/or recovery. It’s this knowledge that working through the stressors will make us stronger, and having the tools to support us and keep us strong through the tough times will help us train to be MO’re resilient through the holiday season and, build MO’re resilience for the new year ahead.
So, this MO’nth, I am sharing with you some of my MO’st important tools of mental health and resiliency. I have two “training program” options for you to consider.
1. MO’s Power Poses for MO’tivation and Mental Strength
If you are feeling very overwhelmed and over-stressed, then I recommend you try doing this one simple thing. Begin each day from a position of strength (“superpower”). Like many influential leaders who promote a strong morning routine that prepares them mentally for owning their day, this is a routine/practice that, when exercised daily for 60-90 days, builds into a habit. Do these 3 “power pose” moves every MO’rning , for 2 minutes, in front of a mirror to build your resilience muscle to MO’ve you forward in your life/ year ahead. Learn more about using these power poses to boost your confidence in this blog post I wrote here.
2. MO’s MO’rning SUCCESS Routine
If you can make a little more time in the morning, then I recommend following my 15-minute MO’rning SUCCESS Routine. SUCCESS is an acronym for a 7-step method to energize your mind and body for your day ahead. This is a routine I created and follow that takes only 15 minutes to complete. Each letter corresponds to an activity and the full routine goes like this:
- Sit in Stillness – to become mindful of your breathing, your thoughts, your feelings, or just be in the MO’ment —5 minutes
- Understand and affirm the strength(s) you will bring to my work and life today. (Fill in the blank for one of these three statements:
I am _____ today. I can ______today , I will _______today) —1 minute
- Conjure up a picture in your mind of your future and how things will be, look and feel when you reach your goal —1 minute
- Create one affirmation (positive statement) and verbalize aloud that confirms your unlimited potential and my most important priorities, today. (Fill in the blank for one of these three affirming statements:
It is ______ (today’s date), I am taking/I can take/I will take daily consistent action to ________ by focusing 15 min each morning on my SUCCESS Routine.) —1 minute
- Energize your mind with personal reading and reflection on new ideas that will support your goal 4—5 minutes
- Scribe in your journal what you are most excited about, proud of having achieved or grateful for on this day —1 minute
- Stretch and move to energize your body (increase heart rate and respiratory rate) *I recommend practicing my power-poses here in front of a mirror to build confidence (and if you want to make the MO’st out of this exercise of power posing then stack this exercise with reciting your statement from Step 2 and/or recite your affirmation from Step 4 above) . – 1 to 2 minutes
Other tools for your resilience toolbox:
If you are looking for other tools to incorporate into your day or ways to build a resiliency routine here are my top recommendations:
- Sleep – sleep is so important for recovery and keeping us healthy–mentally, emotionally, and physically. Many highly underrated sleep in our fast-paced modern world. Adults should aim for 7 to 9 hours of sleep per night. If you are not there or even far off not to worry! Try setting the alarm 15 minutes earlier tonight to help you get into the habit of going to bed earlier. Learn more about sleep – why we need it and strategies to help you get more sleep here.
- Hydrate – our bodies are made up mostly of water. Many of us don’t drink enough water which can make us feel tired and irritated which affects our resiliency in daily life. If you are feeling thirsty, it means you are already dehydrated. Drinking enough water and making sure you are well hydrated is important for proper muscle function and help you stay more resilient in the face of challenges. Have a glass of water as soon as you can after waking and keep drinking water throughout the day to stay hydrated and resilient. If you forget – like I do sometimes – then put 4 to 8 elastic bands at the base of your water bottle or glass. Every time you finish the water bottle or glass, slide one of the elastic bands up and refill!
- Fuel – fuel your mind with positive and helpful knowledge to support your mental resiliency. Fuel your body with nutrient-dense, minimally processed foods that support your energy and recovery and will help you develop and sustain your physical strength and resilience. Best fueling strategies for the holiday season ahead—eat a healthy snack before going to a holiday social as you will be less likely to over-indulge when you don’t feel hungry and, if you drink alcohol, insert a glass of bubbled water between drinks.
- Stretch – Stretching and taking care of the tissues and fascia in our body is an important self-care practice. Daily stretching will improve your flexibility and mobility and keep you MO’ving. If you are looking for ideas and inspiration for stretching, check out my MO’ving Yoga videos and other workouts here.
- Detox Your Mind(set) — cancel out negative thoughts and replace them with positive thoughts e.g. Switch “This is hard, I can’t do it” with “I’m in the process of learning how to ____and I can do this!”. This can be challenging – it will be a great way to flex those resiliency muscles! If you need extra help, try writing out positive affirmations or downloading an app on your phone to remind you and help you develop a more resilient mindset and outlook on life.
- Connect with Friends/Community – as human beings, we seek connection. Isolation can make us feel lonely and down. The power of human connection is essential for keeping us resilient. We are stronger together. Seek out someone to connect with every day – even if it is just a quick text or 5-minute phone call. This daily action can make you feel more connected to the community and help build collective capacity and resiliency.
- Seek Support – asking for help is not a sign of weakness, but quite the opposite. It is a sign of strength and determination. We can’t do everything on our own and staying on the path to health and well-being is not meant to be walked alone.
I associate the journey to building resiliency with this quote by Lao Tsu:
“Watch your thoughts, they become your words; watch your words, they become your actions; watch your actions, they become your habits; watch your habits, they become your character; watch your character, it becomes your destiny.”
Building resilience follows this same trajectory. We must start with our intention and think about why it is important we work on our resiliency muscles. Then we must take action, through mindful practices and daily habits, and that helps us become resilient people. By doing this work, you are guaranteed to have the capacity to walk your path in the pursuit of creating your destiny.
Like any workout program, habit, or new practice, building resilience will not be easy – especially in the beginning when we are just starting out taking mindful action. This is an ongoing, lifelong journey that we need to continually be working on. However, just watch and see your small steps add up over time to long-term success. Just keep MO’ving my friends – I am with you on this journey!