How to be resilient in anxious times

Wow, it is some time we are living in! Natural and man-made disasters.  A polarized political environment that makes you mad, and an uncertain future that makes you anxious.

Here are some thoughts I’ve put together in terms of how you can stay resilient in anxious times.

Think bigger picture –

News events can activate our fear center which makes you see whatever is happening as the final data point – i.e., this is the way its going to be going forward.  It can help to take a step back and see what’s happening from a 50k foot view – This gives you perspective.  For things going on that you don’t agree with, it can help to see these events happening in order to create an effective counterforce. For example, many of us –  women and men – are disgusted about the recent revelations of sexual predation by Harvey Weinstein. It can help to view the benefit of this as creating a lot of awareness and giving voice to people who will set new standards for what will be tolerated.

Self care – There’s alot of emotional reactivity!  Events are bringing out fear and anxiety, and activating anger.  Combined with relentless demand and constant change, its more important than ever to maintain yourself.   I’ve noticed myself more selective about what I say ‘yes’ to and trying to be more fierce about fitting in daily practices to find calm.  We also need to find constructive actions that soothe your feelings and reconnect you to happiness, like go for slow walks in nature (for me it was Foliage season in Vermont!), write in your journal, punch a boxing bag, stroke your pets’ fur, sit with a cup of hot tea/coffee, or dance it out.

Social support – Feeling that you have people you can talk to and share honestly with is a deeply satisfying experience and can help you feel safe in these anxious times.  Pay attention to the quality of relationships you have – how many people do you have in your life you feel you truly can trust and feel safe with (not just FB friends 😉 )  A majority of people in American don’t even have 1 person they feel that way about. (Two recommended resources for you here – Keith Ferrazzi’s book Who’s got your back? teaches you to create these lifeline relationships and a new book that’s just launched talks about this specifically in men and I highly recommend, The Myths of Masculinity) Also, research by Shawn Achor at Harvard  shows that GIVING social support is even more predictive of happiness and engagement at work.  Where can you give social support as a way of feeling on purpose in times that can potentially take you off course.  Many of you naturally stepped up to help other people who have experienced natural or man-made catastrophes, helping you to restore a sense that you can have impact in the direction of the world you want.

Practice extreme sport compassion – We are tempted to react and to dehumanize ‘the other side’ as people and opinions that are worthless, outdated, and ____ (fill in your choice word here).  You will want to convince them to see it the way you do.

How well has it worked for someone with a different point of view trying to ram their opinion down your throat? Not so well, not for me either .

Instead, lead with empathy, understand others’ concerns. (a useful tool here is a TED talk on this topic See if you can find any aspect of a common vision to appeal to.

Find validation and support among people who hold similar points of view, but don’t stop there.  Be a person who is pro-active about seeking points of view outside of your echo-chamber.  Be the bridge we need to create tolerant conversations and people who participate in constructive conversations toward a common vision.

Have Confidence to make the life that YOU want to make.  Action replaces fear.

Have confidence in your own abilities.  Have realistic optimism. Stay connected to whatever source gives you a sense of purpose.

Be clear about what you want and learn strategies to manifest what you want.  That will help you feel more in charge of having the life you want – then you can control the micro-cosm you live in even if you can’t control the big picture events.

Bonus: Prepare – It can help you feel more confident if you feel prepared for events that are out of your control.  Literally, put together a ‘preparedness kit’.  Put efforts into getting insurance, having contingency plans for a disaster, for a change in career, etc.

Hope this helps. What helps you be resilient? Please leave a comment below.

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