What is resilience?
Psychological resilience your ability to adapt in the face of adversity, tragedy, trauma and/or everyday stress. Resilience does not mean that you face adversity or illness without pain or distress. Instead, resilience means that you “bounce back” and rebuild your life despite your feelings of grief, anger and disappointment.
I remember this week, in 2020, extremely well. My family unexpectedly lost our 15-year-old miniature dachshund. The presidential election was looming and Trump was already complaining of massive fraud. I had some major dental work done. I was also extremely worried about my father who was still hospitalized after breaking his femur. In between, I watched the covid numbers soar and was depressed about our self-imposed isolation to avoid catching covid.
A year later, I can see evidence of resilience and my ability to adapt to these stresses. After grieving for our dog, my daughter rescued two beagles who have brought great joy to our household. I’ve been able to be vaccinated and the covid numbers are (finally) on the downswing. My father recovered from his surgery and, with the help of home healthcare, is doing well. I’ve been able to emerge from the shelter-in-place bubble and do a wee bit of traveling.
How did I make it through? By reminding myself that I can get through hard times. I knew that the pain of losing our dog would eventually fade to a tolerable level. I also believed that election issues would get resolved, that my father would be able to return home, and covid would eventually get under control. I practiced self-care (see #2 below) and took a week off to feel my grief. Knowing that I can make it through tough times — personally or in my business — is the essence of resilience.
Resilience, Covid-19 and Small Businesses
The ongoing covid-19 pandemic has been devastating for our physical, mental and economic health. My county on Long Island has more than 237,000 cases of the 44.7 million reported in the United States. How do we cope?
Although we haven’t seen a pandemic like this in our lifetimes, Americans have been through many tough times. As a country we have endured 9/11; mass shootings; and many natural disasters. While the pain hasn’t disappeared, all of us – even those who experienced tremendous loss — have “moved on” to some extent.
Resiliency means that we don’t hide from our problems – we summon our inner strength and tackle these challenges head-on. Recall when you’ve been through hard times before – following a job loss, injury, or the death of a loved one. You can create a “new normal.” It is never easy, but it is possible.
How to build resiliency
One of the lessons from that terrible week in 2020 is that I have embraced self-compassion. Ten years ago, I would have forced myself to work despite my grief over losing our dog and anxiety over my dad’s health. For better or worse, I am no longer a person who can suppress my emotions and detach from what’s going on in my personal life. Here are some ways you can build resiliency:
- Start with self-compassion. Every solopreneur I know is extremely stressed. This is a normal response to an extremely difficult situation. Most of us would have made different decisions if we’d known the outcome of covid on our business, so it’s tempting to beat ourselves us. Unfortunately, we can’t predict the future. Accept your feelings and treat yourself with compassion.
- Take care of yourself. You’ll handle stress better if you take care of your physical, emotional and spiritual needs. Make sure that you do the basics for your physical body — eat healthy food, drink enough water, exercise, and get enough sleep. Take care of your emotional and spiritual needs by taking deep breaths, journaling, listening to music, walking outdoors, meditating, or praying. Avoid negative coping mechanisms such as too much alcohol or other substances.
- Find a community. Connect with people and organizations who share your challenges. This could be the Chamber of Commerce or your professional organization. Many online communities — such as the Solopreneur Academy — provide a combination of education and support. You can also look to people in your family, social circle, or religious community for support. Facebook groups and Meetup.com are also great ways to connect with people who have similar interests and challenges.
- Limit the negative. Let’s be honest – the news is bad. As the death toll creeps up over 720,000 people, it’s easy to get depressed. If you’re spending too much time watching the news – or listening to other gloom-and-doom sources — force yourself to stop. Focus your energy on controlling what you can and rebuilding your business.
- Set realistic goals. This is hard when you’re overwhelmed or grieving. In these cases, I set a modest goal to accomplish three things every day. Sometimes my goals were work-related, such as writing an article or blog post. Other times my goals were much simpler, such as making banana bread or tidying my office. Setting and achieving realistic goals builds confidence and makes you feel like you’re moving in a positive direction.
- Seek professional help. If your anxiety or depression is keeping you from looking to the future, please seek help from your doctor or mental health professional. If you’re looking for support and direction in your business, there are coaches and consultants who can help you move forward.
Related blog posts
- Three Strategies to Stay Focused
- How to Cope with Anxiety as an Entrepreneur
- 13 Ways Solopreneurs Can Stay Mentally Healthy During the Coronavirus