This past weekend was brutal for my physical health. Food poisoning and a nasty flu bug took away my bodily fluids and ability to sleep. In the grand scheme of things this was a minor setback and I was able to recover and perform at an acceptable level as a dad by the end of Sunday and as a professional by Monday morning. Here are four ways to be resilient when you feel like crap.
Ask for help
Whatever is impacting your well-being – physical illness, mental illness or a personal tragedy – trying to solve the problem on your own will make things worse, not better. People are kind and we respond positively when folks are vulnerable. My wife let me sleep in on Sunday morning and she took on a lead-parenting role so that I could recover. My three-year-old son knew I wasn’t feeling well and he relished the opportunity to take on more chores in the backyard (we’re planting a garden and rocks needed picking!) and it was also fun when he played doctor and made me better. Living through much, much, much more devastating circumstances, Sheryl Sandberg expresses the importance of asking others for help during difficult times and how doing so cultivates resilience.
Take care of yourself
Leaders need to take care of themselves before they can support others. I was out of the office for most of last week, so my goal on Sunday was to spend a few hours catching up on email and planning for the week. Instead, I slept and rested as much as possible, planted a few things in our garden, which was super-relaxing, and went to bed early. Because, as Ariana Huffington will tell you, sleep is the most important thing when it comes to your well-being. According to Fast Company’s Rina Raphael, getting sleep isn’t just essential for recovery, but also enhances our productivity every day:
A loss of sleep not only impairs employees’ moods and diet, but also hinders productivity, creativity, and decision-making. In many fields, such as medicine or transport, sleep deprivation can mean life or death, but for most others, it generally means a subpar performance.
Embrace small wins
“The power of progress is fundamental to human nature,” argue HBR’s Teresa Amabile and Steven J Kramer – documenting and celebrating small wins accelerates everything from scientific achievement to artistic creation and business performance. When we have a sense that we’re making headway on a project or, in my case, being able to engage a six-month-old baby so that he doesn’t fall over then we feel more positive and that success is more likely. And the ability to persist during struggle cultivates grit, which, according to Angela Duckworth, is a key differentiator of success.
Reflect on the experience
Learning happens everywhere and all the time. Even when you feel like crap. So it’s important to reflect on the experience in order to determine what happened to make you sick and also how you got better. For example, I am fairly certain that if I hadn’t contracted food poisoning that I wouldn’t have succumbed to the flu the next day, especially if I had focused on getting extra sleep. Scaling back work and getting more sleep on Sunday was helpful, but if I had been a little less active then Monday would’ve been a slightly more productive day at work. I don’t know if I’m going to keep a small wins journal the next time I’m sick, but I have definitely learned some lessons about how to keep my body healthier by what goes into it (not smoked meat hash for awhile) and how it recovers as fast as possible.