“You have brains in your head. You have feet in your shoes. You can steer yourself any direction you choose.”

 —Dr. Seuss

I find these words to be a wonderfully simple way to describe resiliency and how we can bounce back from 2020. It’s a choice for us, both personally and organizationally.

I work with organizations, employee groups and individuals to provide training, critical incident responses, and debriefings on loss and grief.

As I look back at 2020—the most challenging year of our generation—I observed how some people are moving beyond their challenges.

Resilience doesn’t always come easily. But here are a few places you can look:

Our belief systems can include spirituality and a faith in something larger than ourselves. It can also include those assumptions we have about “how life works.” In 2020, I observed how people and employers became more acutely aware of issues related to life and death. We became more aware of what and who we care about, and how to understand and compartmentalize both personal and organizational loss.

How readily or willingly do we switch gears, accept change and become unstuck? Flexibility allows us to become the best version of ourselves, one day, one hour or one moment at a time. As organizations and individuals, we have discovered that adapting successfully to uncertainty and trying new things can be both scary and restorative. We are learning new ways to do old things; we are redefining how we work and connect. Handshakes and hugs are replaced by smiles and words. Human touch has evolved into human moments.

Health and Wellness
Self-care, in the form of diet, exercise, sleep and preserving our mental health, has taken on a greater role due to 2020. Because we want to prevent social isolation from becoming loneliness and depression, paying attention to our own personal wellness has become paramount.

Understanding that we have all become more vulnerable to stress, anxiety, depression and addiction, employers have created task groups dedicated to employee well-being. They are integrating these self-care messages into their daily work, such as starting a staff meeting with a guided meditation; providing psycho-educational sessions on what it means to be healthy and productive; reminding employees of their EAP benefit; and offering counseling sessions on trauma and grief.

Insight and Awareness
What did you learn about yourself in 2020? Are you paying greater attention to your body, trusting your intuition and honoring your own feelings? I discovered that employees and employers alike became more aware of the value of wellness, especially mental health. The events of 2020 taught us many lessons, including the need for human moments, social connection, remote learning, time management, balancing work and personal life, respecting others’ historical trauma, and seeing ourselves as others see us on video platforms. We’ve realized how important it is express our thoughts, reactions and feelings with those we trust.

Relationships and Connections
Do you have a good support system of friends, family, allies and mentors? Who do you support? I always end critical incident stress debriefings and group discussions by reminding people to take good care of those you go home to. Nurture and grow the relationships with those you love and care about.

Sometimes to get what we need from others, we must first give. While it’s important to keep a physical distance from others, don’t let this distance interfere with your relationships. Social isolation is not the same as loneliness. You can be apart yet remain connected. When you’re feeling lonely, who are your “go-to people” that you can reach out to? When you’re connected with a family member, friend or close colleague, make them the most important person in your life for that moment. Do not do anything else for that time period. Your mind and heart will thank you.

Personal Strengths
Leverage your strengths in times of need. Do what you’re good at or what you used to be good at. Is it your sense of humor? Problem solving? Adaptability? Connecting well with others? Perseverance? We become much more motivated to navigate stress when we are engaged in things we care about and love emotionally and intellectually. If you’re not sure what your strengths are, ask someone you know well and trust what they think. Sometimes others can see what we cannot. Another way to discover your strengths is to look back at what you loved and did well between the ages of eight and 12.  This can often provide insight into some talents and strengths you have not used in a while. Lastly, work to support and nurture the strengths you see in others. That in and of itself is a strength.

If you need help or support with your organizational or personal resilience, one choice you can make is to contact FEI Workforce Resilience for assistance. To learn more, check out our services. Wishing you all much happiness, resilience and peace in 2021!