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If you’re having a hard week (or month… or year), let me be the first to tell you: You don’t have to have all the answers — for anyone else or for yourself.

Recently, I was reading John Eldredge’s new book, Resilient: Restoring Your Weary Soul in These Turbulent Times. In it, he tells the story of being this close to leaving town for a vacation, only to have one of the irrigation lines in his yard burst, sending up a fountain of water. In the grand scheme of things, it was just a sprinkler leak, but the timing couldn’t have been worse.

His story illustrates how sometimes, the smallest things can set us off. It’s easy to get frustrated, stressed out, or discouraged by seemingly insignificant issues when we have so little extra to give.  

Maybe you’re there right now, feeling stretched thin — and feeling like the littlest setback might send you spinning.

The good news is 

  • you’re not alone in how you’re feeling (this is true of everyone, especially with the state of the world right now), and 
  • you can build resilience to help you cope in times like these.  

We are so weary of all the things that have gone on in the last two years. We want to get back to life as normal. But what does that look like? To be totally frank, I don’t really know. But I do know that it requires being gentle with ourselves.

It’s important to realize that we have far fewer coping skills than we might normally have. Many of us have found our sympathetic nervous system seems to be in overdrive. Our fight or flight response is so easily triggered. (Again, you’re not alone here.)

There’s no quick fix to all this. But we can start by being kind to one another and kind to ourselves. And we can take steps to gradually build up our resilience over time.

How do we become more resilient? How do we make our bandwidth bigger when it feels so, so narrow right now? 

The answer is different for everyone, but a great first step is to tune into your own needs — and tend to them.

Lately, I’ve been working through some pretty significant grief. I have also noticed that my resilience is feeling a bit thin. The other night, as I tuned into my own needs, I chose to be with people and hang out with friends because, as the Gottmans would remind us, “social isolation weakens resilience, while social connection strengthens it.” 

At the same time, I need time to rebuild my soul and give myself some breathing room. I’ve been longing to spend some time in the wilderness, walking through a forest and soaking my feet in a creek of cool water.

I need to be with people I love, and I need to feel grounded and calmed by the comfort of solitude in the woods. Both are true for me.

Lately, I’ve also been getting up earlier than normal. I’m re-convincing myself that this is an important habit (fake it till you make it, right?). But really, it was so lovely to be up in the cool of the morning. I listened to two podcasts and did some journaling — all before 7 a.m.!

Through the grief and trauma of the last two years, it’s been a survival method of mine to believe that I need a lot of sleep. But now, I think it’s time to wake up. I need to get up and move my body. Yes, it’s often hard to carve out the time. And yes, I’ve had to break the habit of snuggling in bed (it’s just so comfy and safe and secure, and nobody bothers me or requires anything of me!). 

But what if that extra hour makes all the difference? What if it helps me build more resilience? 

If you feel like you’ve burned the candle at both ends and that you have nothing left to give, consider tuning into your needs and working on building your resilience. If you do, I think you’ll be encouraged by how much easier it is to cope with daily trials — like an unplanned fountain in your front yard!

Photo by Kevin Wolf on Unsplash