Change is a powerful force. Like a thundering wave, it can knock you off your feet if you aren’t paying attention. And sometimes, even when you are. In this guest post, bestselling author Laurie Seymour shares her tips on building personal resilience in times of change.
The dominant fallout following Brexit is fear of employment change and with that, skyrocketing stress. With companies hesitant to extend contracts and looking to rein in costs, independent contractors and other self-employed professionals are left wondering how they will survive.
This uncertainty makes the choppiest of waves. It’s difficult to plan a course of action when the rocks along the path are difficult to discern.
“You can’t stop the waves, but you can learn to surf.” ~ Jon Kabat-Zinn
An essential part of navigating these waters is developing resilience. With your body, you exercise in order to build endurance (and don’t stop now!). Well, exercising your mind’s ability to respond effectively to a changing environment builds resilience.
Resilience gives you the inner strength required to successfully pass through these uncertain times.
Here are 5 things you can do today
Manage expectations, both of yourself and from outside
Practice being gentle with yourself. Be aware that those who depend upon you may feel concerned about how your situation will impact them. Buried in concern is often an expectation that you do something to “fix” the situation. Take a few settling breaths and remind yourself of the actions that you already are taking. Ask for what you need. Space? Support? A positive ear? Don’t expect yourself to carry the load alone.
Build your mindfulness muscle
As one of the early proponents of meditation and mindfulness, Dr. Jon Kabat-Zinn explains it this way: “Mindfulness equals awareness, but it’s the awareness that arises from paying attention on purpose in the present moment, nonjudgmentally.” Being non-judgmental does not mean you throw out discernment. Rather you develop clarity that comes from shedding preconceived ideas. What you used to do may not be what is needed in this new situation.
Mindfulness can be done in the middle of a meeting or while on a run. Having a regular mindfulness practice has been demonstrated to boost physical and mental health by reducing stress and lowering blood pressure and heart rate.
Sometimes the best thing to address stress is the simplest. Take a break. A warm bath, a walk with friends, a nap – whatever allows you to replenish can bring benefits that far outweigh the effort.
Make a list of the things you feel grateful for in your life. Add to the list regularly. Appreciation opens your eyes to what is working in your life.
Don’t feed the monsters!
Chade-Meng Tan, Google engineer and personal growth pioneer, created the hugely popular Google course, Search Inside Yourself. In his book of the same name, he maintains that you get to choose which thoughts to give your attention. He says that while you cannot eradicate the thoughts that cause you distress, you can bring your awareness to them. With awareness, you can decide to stop repeating the same self-critical story to yourself. Without “food”, that “monster” may simply leave you alone and go somewhere else to feed.
Take time out for inner quiet
I know it can be difficult to take time out. Especially now, you feel like you have to keep pushing yourself into action in order to make things happen. However, research has repeatedly demonstrated that meditation – inner quiet – has profound benefits that relate directly to resilience and taking informed action.
Why practice mindfulness and meditation
Research continues to document numerous benefits of practicing mindfulness and meditation. Sara Lazar, a neuroscientist at Massachusetts General Hospital and Harvard Medical School took the anecdotal claims about the benefits of meditation and mindfulness and did control group testing using brain scans.
She found differences in brain volume after eight weeks in the brains of the two groups. In the group that learned meditation, she found thickening in four regions that are involved key areas for resilience: learning, cognition, memory and emotional regulation; perspective taking, empathy and compassion; and mind wandering.
Interestingly, the area of the brain which is important for anxiety, fear and stress got smaller in the group that went through the mindfulness-based stress reduction program.
Transport for London has offered mindfulness combined with other interventions like cognitive behavioural therapy (CBT) to staff. It has led to 71% reduction in days off for stress, anxiety and depression, while absences for all conditions dropped by 50%. (From Mindful Nation UK, Report by the Mindfulness All-Party Parliamentary Group, October, 2015)
Most importantly in this time of change, do something. Choose one thing to try out that is different for you. Even making one change in behaviour and attitude will do wonders towards building inner resilience.
Uncertainty can threaten your stability. Resilience makes you nimble.
Bestselling author and Master Teacher, Laurie Seymour, M.A., is dedicated to showing you how to reliably connect with your own inner wisdom, dissolving self-doubt.
Once you have this inner connected firmly anchored, you’ll have the confidence and direction to live your big-picture vision. Laurie founded The Baca Journey to help illuminate your journey. Laurie will be teaching Prospecting Your Inner Jewel in London this November at London Art House.