Cultivating resilience through Self Care

We are now in the second month of the lockdown due to the COVID-19 pandemic. No matter how hard it is to accept, this is going to be a new normal for a while. When it started, we threw away our usual routine, scrambled together a makeshift home office (and homeschooling for those who have school-aged kids) as quickly as we could. But after a while, we started feeling tired, depleted, overwhelmed, and all sorts of such feelings. It was not sustainable.

During a coaching session last week, I noticed that my client Claire’s energy level was lower than usual even though she was talking about a recent win at her work. As I shared it with her she admitted that the blurred boundary between work and home life was becoming burdensome. She had been missing the alone time during her commute, and even at her desk at work. This new situation was causing more depletion than when she and I first started five months ago.

Claire is not alone, this is a story I am hearing everywhere especially from the working parents. On top, that existential guilt that while many are experiencing job/income losses and health issues some of us are missing the alone time is making it even worse. While she and I couldn’t control the bigger issue, we focused on what she could do to address her own needs. That way she could be more available for her family and for her team at work.

We brainstormed and came up with a few ideas that would give her some alone time to recharge her batteries. She listed – Daily 30-min walk/run by herself, moving her work computer to a quieter area of the house (she is introverted), taking a few minutes in between meetings to breathe and stretch.
The following week she sent me this note and a picture of her journal entry.

I’m learning how important it is to refill my battery in order to show up for my family and in my work. I’ve been so much happier and productive since. It was just the little nudge and self-realization I needed.

Claire's Journal
Claire’s journal

Self Care has been an overlooked area from Claire for the past few years. Home quarantine only made it worse. In her own words, “I didn’t realize how truly sad and overwhelmed I was feeling until we talked.”  

Nabila, a busy mid-level software professional and a mother of two young children told me the other day,

Work pressure, taking care of kids, and household responsibilities on top of the COVID situation can be overwhelming. It hampers my ability to focus. Overwhelm is inevitable when I don’t get quiet/ quality time for myself. Once I prioritize that, I become more present and productive. I learned that it is not selfish to take that time to recharge; it is wiser as it is for the greater good.

In case seeing the woman names above, you think it is only a “woman thing,” note that Jason, a hardcore corporate VP, sometimes uses the “running late” feature on Outlook for some mindful breathing exercise in between those back to back meeting. It keeps him grounded and focused. Nowadays, he is officially ending the meetings five minutes before the hour so that everyone can do the same.

According to this article by the American Psychological Association, Resilience is the process of adapting well in the face of adversity, trauma, tragedy, threats, or significant sources of stress. As much as resilience involves “bouncing back” from difficult experiences, it can also involve profound personal growth.

What can be a more appropriate time to strengthen our resilience muscles through self-care so that we can grow and meet the demands this pandemic situation is calling forth!