• Laurie-Ell Bashforth

replenish yourself in this pandemic


It's an understatement to say it's been a long time with this virus. A virus that's wallpapered itself onto the walls of our homes and workplaces (for many the same thing), it's fondled our hearts, and casually still walks with us when we enter out into the world.

It holds us by a leash. One of those retractable ones we choke on when we get excited and pull too hard.

Yet in spite of this, our human resourcefulness has managed to find ways to engage with the world ~ like the puppy chasing its tail round and round. We've adapted and realized, this is a marathon, where the effing finish line keeps moving.

This is a marathon... where the finish line keeps moving.

Although we have the capacity to adapt, we don't have to ignore how hard its been, and still is. There's a continual rocking motion. One step forward two steps back. Pivoting, hybriding (I know, not a word), cheerleading our pom poms off if you're a leader of people or at all positive minded, digging in and doin' the work needed to be done (thank you health care workers ~ #iluvu).


However, over the last year and a half we've all been playing at something without really knowing it.


Resiliency.


The stops, starts, disruptions, shifts in ways of being, ways of doing, ways of reacting have given us an orchestra of skills. Every day in this health event you, me, and the cutie sitting on your couch have been learning a new instrument.

We are examples of what resiliency looks like.

As you wake up (those blessed to do so) to around 600 days or more of, "Everything You Need To Know About Coronavirus In The World", it’s no doubt you might be tired, or digging into routines and systems that work well for you.


We're all wanting to move on. Wave a sparkly wand that'll zap a little groove magic into the air. Something that'll help cut through the fatigue we're all feeling?


Unless you're my son who received a Harry Potter wand for his 9th birthday, it may be hard to abra-ca-dabra your way forward. But there are a few things that we can do that'll help replenish us right now.


#1 Small Victories

In my own circles I'm hearing:

  • “The blessings that have come from COVID have been...”

  • “If there’s 1 good thing that’s come from COVID, it’s this…”

  • “COVID has allowed me to …”

Gratitude (sigh, you knew it had to be said somewhere, right?) This super power, when we actually practice it has the real potential (YES IT REALLY DOES) to increase our overall happiness. The science behind it is simple: setting ourselves up to look for the small victories in life re-wires how we see our life.


The type of gratitude matters too. The diamond you want: consider gratitude for who-you-have and gratitude for how-things-happen, not gratitude for what you have.


Try this:

Write 3 things daily that you’re grateful for 3 weeks, or, as you lay your sleepy head on your pillow ask yourself, “what went well today?” Then do it tomorrow, the next day, the day after that, and then the day after that. Keep going and that little magic you were looking for might just have been there all along.


If you're a leader of people (big and little): Open up your staff meetings with those small victories. Ask and reply with what's going well. Then, you can delve into the realities that need solutions using and vs. but (eg: These are our small victories and this is what we're facing that needs a solution)


#2 Make Small Connections

We usually think only big connections with others count. But even the slightest casual positive interaction connecting you with someone else boosts your sense of well being. It reminds your brain that the world is a safe place.


These positive, short term interactions are called moments of high quality connections.


Try this:

Smile as you pass someone on the street or in the hall.


Make eye contact and say hi to the person at the till in the grocery store.


Have a short conversation with the person beside you on the bus, train, or plane (as this all begins again).

Compliment the Starbucks barista for her amazing upsell (which I did btw because it was so smooth and I felt like she totally had my best interest in mind when she asked if I'd like a piece of carrot cake with my Grande Americano, even though I still said no thank you)


Polite and friendly social interaction takes us out of our own head, allows us to engage with the living, and reminds us that the world isn't all bad. In fact, there's a lot of good.

If you're a leader of people (big or little): Get it started with the 10:5 rule. After Hurricane Katrina one Louisiana hospital saw the need to raise morale. They implemented the Ritz Carlton 10:5 rule. If you're within 10 feet of someone as you're moving through your day, make eye contact and smile. If you're within 5 feet of someone, look up, smile, and say hello. They saw a positive ripple effect that affected all employees (even the hold-outs), patients, family members of patients, and their monetary bottom line. It's so simple.


#3 Dance after escaping from the lion

Over these many months we’ve all had a lot of new stressors in our lives. A stressor is an external something that has the potential to create a physiological and neurological response in your body. This response is called a stress response. When your body becomes mentally and physically ready for fight (take on the lion), flight (run from the lion), or freeze (stand still and be eaten by the lion).


To put it in context. We've been hit heavy and hard with uncontrollable events over the last 19 months. We've responded to every single one by dealing with it in some way. "Dealing with it", takes mental and physical energy in ways that we're not always aware.


For me, I've been feeling as if my skin is a little thinner. I'm quick to tears. I get frustrated easier with people. I'm a little sad, cuz' I can't make plans for anything. Some days I'm just really tired, and tired of working so hard at not being tired.


We've been chronically running from the lion for so long, we're exhausted.

The bottom line is, if you're not replenishing the physiological and neurological energy your body takes to handle a stressor, eventually your resourcefulness diminishes.


Emily and Amelia Nagoski, sister authors of, Burnout: The Secret to Unlocking the Stress Cycle say that "in this upside-down world we live in stress itself will kill you faster than a stressor will unless you do something to complete the stress response cycle."


Stressful events aren't always bad for us. They can make things happen, quickly. However, the way you react to stressors, especially chronic stressors that continue for an extended period of time, can cause serious health issues.


So even though the pandemic lion continues to pace around us, you have the ability to let your body know you're safe. Let your body know it's okay to stop running. Here's some practical ways to close your stress response cycle:


  1. Laughter

  2. Breathing - deep

  3. Positive social interaction - see above

  4. Affection -hug it out!

  5. Cry - a good ol' tear jerk movie maybe?

  6. Creative expression - any way you want to baby!!

  7. Exercise - the quickest and most efficient way btw

How do you know if any of that works? Your body will tell you. It'll be like a shift in gears. Listen to it.


#4 Post it note reminder

You. Are. Super. Resilient.


Believe it or not our beautifully complex human bodies and minds are made this way. The crazy thing is, we constantly forget how super resilient we really are. Heads up, that’s also how we’re made.


Dan Gilbert, Harvard psychologist and author of Stumbling on Happiness says, our brain naturally is always trying to overcome. Humans adapt, to both bad things ~ wait for it ~ but also to good things. And both, the good and the bad, don't actually affect us quite as much as we expect them to.


So remember, we can do hard things.

We do do hard things. All. The. Time.

None of this comes easily though. It takes some effort and personal responsibility on our end to care for our own well being. Because our happiness, our flourishing, our well-being is in our own hands, not someone else's.


Love & Blessings

laurie-ell




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