Today, in Part 3 of this series about resilience, we’ll explore the most critical choice you can make to keep yourself steady, and ready to handle life with grace and patience. You’ll meet Kaila and learn about the challenges she’s mastering as she recovers from a long season of high stress and becomes more resilient.

Kaila’s Story

Kaila and her husband were thrilled to welcome their first child into the world last year. Born prematurely, their son developed some serious health issues that led to months of long days and sleepless nights. Thankfully, little Daniel is doing much better now, but it’s left Kaila trying to recover from deep exhaustion.

The first thing Kaila and I did was identify the specific physical issues she’s experiencing, such as adrenal fatigue, and discuss strategies she can easily implement during the times when she has help with the baby and can have a bit of time to herself. With breastfeeding, this isn’t a whole lot of time, so we kept things simple.

Although Kaila is knowledgeable about her body’s needs and what will help her recover from fatigue, she was finding it hard to do the things she knew she should. So, instead of napping, she’d do the dishes and throw in a load of laundry. Instead of some gentle yoga, she’d run to the grocery store.

A clean and well-stocked kitchen and fresh clothes go a long way to help all of us feel grounded and centered, but Kaila realized those things weren’t going to help her recover in the ways she really needed.

She was trying to substitute maintenance activities for replenishment activities.

Can you relate? I know I can. I’m never more excited to clean my house than when I decide to sit down and meditate. Suddenly reorganizing the closet and cleaning under the furniture feels like a moral imperative. My mind — and I’ll bet yours, too — tells me that more DOING is what’s going to make me feel better, and keep me from feeling anything that might come up when I’m quiet and reflective.

Physiologically, long-term stress causes us to be in a perpetual state of fight or flight and being still or quiet becomes harder and harder. Getting to sleep, slowing down to meditate, do yoga, or read, become very difficult. That compulsion to keep doing, doing, doing, means you’re running on empty and could be headed for some serious repercussions, both physically and emotionally.

Resilient people know when they need to power down and recharge with replenishing activities.

Try one of these every day to replenish yourself:

  • Take a quick walk
  • Meditate
  • Journal
  • Drink a glass of water
  • Breathe deeply for 10 minutes
  • Dance, do yoga or Qigong
  • Have a good laugh
  • Sit and look at nature for 15 minutes
  • Take a 20-minute power nap

Make the decision to consciously choose one replenishing activity every day rather than continually compelling yourself to be productive. You can’t get water from an empty well, and although running on empty has a buzzing, nervy “high” that goes along with it, you’ll eventually crash in a heap. And on the way, you’ll probably create a lot of bad habits in yourself and your relationships. Get real with yourself about when you’re doing life maintenance when you should be replenishing. One is NOT a substitute for the other. What do you need to choose differently? More help with tasks? Less guilt for taking care of yourself? Coaching?

I know you can learn to make good choices that will keep you clearheaded, calm, and able to handle what life throws at you, with resilience and grace.

All My Best,

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P.S. To catch up on the whole series:

So far, in this series about resilience, we looked at several essential traits of resilient people you can adopt:

In part 1, I Found A Tick and Other Reasons To Become More Resilient, we learned:

  • Use your cognitive tools to talk yourself down from stressing and self-blame.
  • Affirm your ability to handle it and take care of myself.
  • Tell someone and process externally.

In part 2, How To Use Your Strengths To Create A Resilient Life, we added:

  • Learn to pause your stress reaction and mindfully choose your response.
  • Consciously choose the story you’re telling about yourself and the situation.
  • Find a trusted friend or advisor to process and brainstorm with when things get tough.
  • Know and utilize your signature strengths in meeting challenges.