3 Habits That Are Sabotaging Your Resilience

(and what to do about them)

3 Habits That Are Sabotaging Your Resilience

(and what to do about them)

3 Habits That Are Sabotaging Your Resilience

When someone asks you how you are doing, what is your typical response?

You probably say something like “fine,” or “okay, how are you?” even if in reality you are feeling tired, overwhelmed or stressed out. Who has time to go into all that when we are so busy?

If you feel inclined to share, you may sum it up with that one word – busy. Everyone’s busy. And being busy is a good thing. Busy means productive, right?

Not necessarily. We tend to think because we are busy, we are getting a lot done. But for many of us, being busy means racing to put out one fire after the next, and getting to the end of the day realizing we haven’t done anything to make headway on what is most important to us.

Sound familiar? If so, you can start to understand why you feel tired, overwhelmed and stressed out. In any of those states, your resilience is low, like your car running on fumes when you run the tank down too low. You hit a bump in the road and next thing you know, you’re out of gas.

“We tend to think because we are busy, we are getting a lot done.”

At its most basic definition, resilience is our ability to bounce back from adversity. When you are resilient, you have the stores of energy, creativity, problem-solving, and emotional intelligence that you need to navigate everything life throws at you.

What runs down your resilience and leaves you feeling like you’ve got nothing else to give? And what can you do about it? 

Here are some habits and mindsets that sabotage resilience, and some ideas to help you fight back:

#1 – Stop Being “Busy”

When we tell ourselves how busy we are (even if it’s true) we put ourselves in a reactive rather than a strategic, proactive stance. We put aside the things that aren’t screaming for our attention and focus on putting out fires. We put our heads down, our noses to the grindstone, and we multitask. You’ve probably heard how trying to do more than one thing at once and constantly switching between tasks is bad for your stress levels, mental health, and productivity, but that hasn’t stopped us from doing it. Train yourself to catch yourself when you are multitasking, and reset what you are doing to focus on completing one task at a time. Mindfulness is the opposite of multitasking. The practice of mindfulness, such as pausing throughout your day to focus on your body, can help alert you when you’re multitasking as a response to stress. Breaking the cycle of stress could be as simple as taking three deep breaths, then choosing to focus on one thing at a time.

#2 – Take Control of Digital Distractions

Many of us are addicted to our smartphones. According to recent statistics, we check our devices an average of 63 times a day. Ironically, all the time we spend on devices seeking to stay “connected” is making us feel less connected, with ourselves and others. When 85 percent of us check our devices while speaking with friends and family, we cannot be fully present for others. We give a piece of hardware with no pulse more time and attention than the people in our lives. One study found increasing smartphone usage temporarily diminishes the ability to interpret the deeper meaning of information. How can we take back control over our technology use rather than letting it control us? One way is to start paying attention to how we start and end our days. The first 30 minutes after we wake up and the last half hour or so before we go to sleep is when we are at our weakest, cognitively speaking, so that’s precisely when we should avoid checking the news, email, or social media.

#3 – Practice Being Present

Technology is not bad – we just have to be cognizant of why we are using it. Unfortunately, we’ve gotten in the habit of using it to avoid being bored. A 2010 study by Harvard psychologists Matthew A. Killingsworth and Daniel T. Gilbert found we spend 47 percent of our time thinking about something other than what we are doing in the moment. But filling our moments with distractions doesn’t make us more productive. It just makes us feel more frazzled, and wears down our resilience. One solution is to practice what I call “Mind Over Moment” – paying attention in each moment to decisions you would otherwise make unwittingly. Mind Over Moment is about stopping to ask: “Is the way I am thinking and behaving going to get me the result I want?” If the answer is no, it means making a decision to change how we are thinking or behaving for a better result.

When you allow yourself to be swept up in busyness, multitasking, distraction and inattention, you allow your resilience muscle to atrophy. Take time to be mindful about where you direct your time and attention and savor good experiences. More importantly, know that it is not only ok, but necessary to be still at times. It’s ok to put yourself in airplane mode. That will make you more productive in your day-to-day life, and better able to bounce back from whatever unexpected problems come your way.

Gratefully,
Anne

Want more tools to build resilience through a daily gratitude practice? Click here to read my most recent article for Swaay.com.

3 Habits That Are Sabotaging Your Resilience

When someone asks you how you are doing, what is your typical response?

You probably say something like “fine,” or “okay, how are you?” even if in reality you are feeling tired, overwhelmed or stressed out. Who has time to go into all that when we are so busy?

If you feel inclined to share, you may sum it up with that one word – busy. Everyone’s busy. And being busy is a good thing. Busy means productive, right?

Not necessarily. We tend to think because we are busy, we are getting a lot done. But for many of us, being busy means racing to put out one fire after the next, and getting to the end of the day realizing we haven’t done anything to make headway on what is most important to us.

Sound familiar? If so, you can start to understand why you feel tired, overwhelmed and stressed out. In any of those states, your resilience is low, like your car running on fumes when you run the tank down too low. You hit a bump in the road and next thing you know, you’re out of gas.

“We tend to think because we are busy, we are getting a lot done.”

At its most basic definition, resilience is our ability to bounce back from adversity. When you are resilient, you have the stores of energy, creativity, problem-solving, and emotional intelligence that you need to navigate everything life throws at you.

What runs down your resilience and leaves you feeling like you’ve got nothing else to give? And what can you do about it? 

Here are some habits and mindsets that sabotage resilience, and some ideas to help you fight back:

#1 – Stop Being “Busy”

When we tell ourselves how busy we are (even if it’s true) we put ourselves in a reactive rather than a strategic, proactive stance. We put aside the things that aren’t screaming for our attention and focus on putting out fires. We put our heads down, our noses to the grindstone, and we multitask. You’ve probably heard how trying to do more than one thing at once and constantly switching between tasks is bad for your stress levels, mental health, and productivity, but that hasn’t stopped us from doing it. Train yourself to catch yourself when you are multitasking, and reset what you are doing to focus on completing one task at a time. Mindfulness is the opposite of multitasking. The practice of mindfulness, such as pausing throughout your day to focus on your body, can help alert you when you’re multitasking as a response to stress. Breaking the cycle of stress could be as simple as taking three deep breaths, then choosing to focus on one thing at a time.

#2 – Take Control of Digital Distractions

Many of us are addicted to our smartphones. According to recent statistics, we check our devices an average of 63 times a day. Ironically, all the time we spend on devices seeking to stay “connected” is making us feel less connected, with ourselves and others. When 85 percent of us check our devices while speaking with friends and family, we cannot be fully present for others. We give a piece of hardware with no pulse more time and attention than the people in our lives. One study found increasing smartphone usage temporarily diminishes the ability to interpret the deeper meaning of information. How can we take back control over our technology use rather than letting it control us? One way is to start paying attention to how we start and end our days. The first 30 minutes after we wake up and the last half hour or so before we go to sleep is when we are at our weakest, cognitively speaking, so that’s precisely when we should avoid checking the news, email, or social media.

#3 – Practice Being Present

Technology is not bad – we just have to be cognizant of why we are using it. Unfortunately, we’ve gotten in the habit of using it to avoid being bored. A 2010 study by Harvard psychologists Matthew A. Killingsworth and Daniel T. Gilbert found we spend 47 percent of our time thinking about something other than what we are doing in the moment. But filling our moments with distractions doesn’t make us more productive. It just makes us feel more frazzled, and wears down our resilience. One solution is to practice what I call “Mind Over Moment” – paying attention in each moment to decisions you would otherwise make unwittingly. Mind Over Moment is about stopping to ask: “Is the way I am thinking and behaving going to get me the result I want?” If the answer is no, it means making a decision to change how we are thinking or behaving for a better result.

When you allow yourself to be swept up in busyness, multitasking, distraction and inattention, you allow your resilience muscle to atrophy. Take time to be mindful about where you direct your time and attention and savor good experiences. More importantly, know that it is not only ok, but necessary to be still at times. It’s ok to put yourself in airplane mode. That will make you more productive in your day-to-day life, and better able to bounce back from whatever unexpected problems come your way.

Gratefully,
Anne

Want more tools to build resilience through a daily gratitude practice? Click here to read my most recent article for Swaay.com.

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