This past week, I had a consultation for a sleep study. While in the doctor’s office, she asked me what I think about before I fall asleep. I answered without missing a beat – everything. My mind races. I think about my work, husband, kids, friends, future, parents, siblings, and to-do lists. From dinner menus to shopping lists. The list is endless. I am exhausted just thinking about it.
As I left the doctor’s office, it got me thinking about resiliency. It’s a word that we hear ALL the time as a military spouse. As military families, we must manage difficult times — farewells, distance, and loss. We field difficult questions from our children, family, and friends. We answer those questions as best we can. Coupled with our day-to-day jobs, activities, and responsibilities, it can take a toll on you, both physically and mentally.
But as human beings — we are resilient.
We pick ourselves up repeatedly and move forward. Some circumstances seem harder than others but when you look back, you see that you found your way through the difficult times. We can and we do withstand and recover from difficult conditions or situations.
Life goes on. And time flies.
I started doing a little research on resiliency and came across an article from the Harvard Business Review. It was written last year and highlighted an important element to resiliency that I had never thought about; an element that can help each and every one of us every single day. It is recovery.
The article by Shawn Anchor and Michelle Gielan discusses the need to recharge and recover, “resilience is about how you recharge, not how you endure.” I continued to read on. The article states, “the key to resilience is trying really hard, then stopping, recovering, and then trying again.” When you don’t give yourself the opportunity to recharge or recover, your balance is off.
As I thought more about the ability to withstand and recover quickly from difficult situations and the impact that balance has on us, I was struck by the fact that although we stop at the end of the work day or when our kiddos go to bed. We may sit and watch some television to wind down. We may stroll our neighborhood. Whatever, that downtime activity may be, do we really give ourselves the opportunity to recharge?
One would think recovering means stop doing the work tasks, the kid tasks, or the volunteer tasks; maybe that means not answering your emails or not checking your voicemails, or maybe that means putting your phone away for a digital detox. If you go to bed and get the right amount of sleep, you expect to be recovered and recharged. Well, we know that is not the case. Or at least I do, especially after the doctor asked me what I think about right before I go to sleep. We all know that “stopping does not equal recovering.”
Well then how do we recharge?
The article provided some great ways to build resilience and rest our brains. The first suggestions is to create a tech free zone; maybe turn your phone on airplane mode or switch the ringer off. The second one is to take a break every 90 minutes. This means get up from your desk or turn those papers you are
reading upside down and breathe. The third suggestion is to spend a few minutes outside; get some fresh air. Stop and chat with your neighbors.
These are three ways to give yourself the chance to recharge and recover so you can stay resilient and navigate everything that comes your way by being good to yourself.
Reena O’Brien is a military spouse and a Herald Correspondent. She lives on Fort Hood.