STRENGTHENING RESILIENCE as we all respond to the numerous natural disasters faced at home and abroad.
“For the long haul….: Four Sure-Fire Strategies for Strengthening Resilience”
Recovery and rebuilding from the natural disasters of the last two months will take years and enormous resources, including your energy as a survivor and/or one supporting survivors. At the same time the recent cluster of natural disasters hit at the beginning of the school year for many educators and their students. Anyone who has ever gone to school or taught school knows how stressful the start of school can be on a cloudless, seismically calm day. How much more with the start of school delayed, schools damaged or closed for months to years, transfers to other campuses—all at the same time trying to take care of the losses at home and in your heart!
Here are four powerful strategies from trauma informed leadership that can strengthen your resiliency to face and flourish in life with all its challenges -- the challenges in the rearview mirror, the ones you can see through the windshield, and even the ones you have yet to see.
Name the Emotion:
The first is to name the emotions you are experiencing as you recover your life and start to rebuild your home, places of work, teaching, and learning. We are born hard-wired for six emotions: joy, anger, surprise, disgust, fear, and sadness. And there are dozens more we acquire as we experience life. Naming your emotion(s) in the aftermath of loss lessens the negative effects of some of your emotions and sets free the positive ones to bloom and blossom amid tragedy. Toxic stress develops when our emotions become stuck, anchored in our bodies. Naming and owning up to them gives you power over them for your well-being.
Rest and Replenish:
Remember to rest and replenish yourself on a regular basis. Because your loss is catastrophic and will take time to process, you might feel like there is no time to waste on resting your whole being. The problem is that no one can keep going indefinitely at the pace that was required in the immediate aftermath of the natural disasters we have witnessed in recent weeks. As safety and resources are restored, so too must your body, mind, and spirit need to be restored. The human body heals, not in a dragstrip race that begins and ends in a few short seconds; rather genuine healing happens in an ongoing pendulum swing of active work of healing and then restful pause to consolidate the healing. Make time for what replenished you before the disaster. Create new rituals, develop an exercise program, take time to smell the roses and notice that there are still great, healthy things going on all around you, among your family, neighbors, friends, and even strangers who share with you in the fellowship of suffering through a tragedy together. Make use of your spiritual traditions that have been a part of your foundation. They can’t be harmed by natural disasters. Trust them.
Writing allows you to put on paper you own unique experiences and perceptions and meaning-making of this life-changing event in life. Just fifteen minutes of continuous writing for four consecutive days has been proven to lessen long term health issues following a traumatic experience in life. Even if you say to yourself, “I don’t know how to start,” start moving the writing instrument in your hand, making scribbles instead of letters. The good news is no English teacher will be around to grade it so don’t worry about grammar, spelling, punctuation, or even making sense. This works. And don’t worry: no one needs to ever see your writing output for you to benefit from pouring the feelings onto paper.
As you let go of the past and live in the 3.5 seconds scientists say is the present, use the present moment to design your future. Ask yourself:
· What do I want given that yesterday is over and cannot be re-lived?
· What choices can I make in this moment of transition?
· What does my preferred future look like??
· How many ways can I achieve that envisioned future?
· Who can I invite to hope with me?
· What’s holding me back?
Just as rest and replenishment can be informed by your spiritual traditions, how much more hope! Allow your traditions to provide you with the forward step that is anchored in promised hope.
With hope alive in your life, you will do more than just survive the storm or earthquake, you will thrive. And that’s what we are all about at Thriving Leaders Collaborative, LLC.
Those are my thoughts for the long haul. What are yours? I can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org