How can these words influence the coming year?
The One Little Word® project is an outgrowth of Ali Edwards’ work. In 2006, she began the tradition of choosing one word for herself in January and focusing on that word throughout the year. I have done the same for the past two years.
In 2019, I chose the word Impact. It was a reminder to look at all aspects of my life: people, work and activities and measure their impact on my life. Did this person bring me joy or drain me? Is the activity I have been involved with for years still serving me well?
In 2020, I chose the word Grace. I did not expect this word and the thought behind it to be “essential” to surviving a pandemic. Last year required A LOT of grace; grace for myself, for mom and total strangers who did not share our resolve to wear a mask, social distance and contain in-person interactions to a small group of people.
By default, the second touchstone word for 2020 became resilient. As caregivers, we are resilient. It is a skill honed by all the small and large crises we encounter when we take on caregiving. It became a word that the general population used to describe, often with complete surprise, how they were able to adapt to the multiple stressful situations we found ourselves in due to COVID-19.
I have always considered myself one of those people who can “roll with the punches.” This emotional resilience – the ability to adapt to stressful situations and crises – was tested and stretched thin in 2020. Let’s face it, given the increasing number of infections and the slow roll out of vaccines, my resilience will continue to be tested well into 2021.
Which brings me to my third word, “thrive.” It was during a conversation with friends when we were reflecting on the past year that I acknowledged just how resilient mom and I were in 2020. Yet, I can’t say that we thrived. Don’t get me wrong. I had the ability to pivot and change in-person programs to Zoom presentations. Book sales were good and I averaged over 3,000 visitor to www.advocateformomanddad.com for much of the year. But did mom or I thrive? We certainly succeeded in staying healthy, a major accomplishment given the year. But, by definition, to thrive is to be good at something or to get better at something. It is also about feeling grateful, fortunate and feeling good about life. As 2020 wore on and the virus was a sustained major crisis and not short term, I found it harder to feel grateful, fortunate and good about life.
Which is why I brought together resilience, thrive and grace as my touchstones for this year. Emotional resilience can be strengthend with practice even if you are not naturally resilient.
- You can start with working to understand what you are feeling and why. Emotional awareness allows you to respond appropriately and to cope with difficult emotions.
- Keep working toward a goal. Move forward, take action and don’t give up.
- Don’t let outside forces take control of your life. A greater sense of control in your own life allows you to be more proactive in dealing with stress.
- Don’t be a victim. Look for the positive in the situation and learn from your mistakes.
- Surround yourself with supportive friends and family in the safest way possible using video chats like Zoom or committing to quarantining and testing before increasing your bubble.
- Seek out ways to find joy and laughter. The other day I was so discouraged by the news that I deliberately spent 15 minutes watching videos of babies and puppies.
- There is a connection between emotional resilience and spirituality. Seek out ways to stay connected to your spiritual side.
The ties between emotional resilience and thriving are strong. Thriving requires:
- Emotional connection through socialization, either safely in person or online. In both situations, compassion, gratitude and meaningful spiritual moments are the key.
- Update your routine with small practices that over time will bring big changes. This is a great time to start or expand an exercise routine, healthy eating and mindfulness habits.
- Put people first. That can be through asking for or giving help, practicing compassion and shared laughter.
I believe that caregivers are master adapters. I believe that even in the midst of caregiving during a pandemic we can thrive because thriving is a mindset, an intention that you set. When we work to have good days filled with resilience, when we look for the silver linings that allow us to thrive and we do it with grace, there is no doubt we will have good days. And that is a great intention for life in the year ahead.
Disclaimer: The material in this blog is for educational purposes only. It is not intended to replace, nor does it replace, consulting with a physician, lawyer, accountant, financial planner or other qualified professional.
Deb is available as a caregiver consultant. She will answer the question: “Where do I start?” and find the resources to alleviate your stress. If you would like to invest a half hour to learn how she can help you, please contact her at: Free 30 minute consulting call