Just recently, we rang in the new year and held our breath for a fresh start free of the struggle that seemingly outlined every single day of 2021. We all knew a simple flip of the calendar wouldn’t change anything, but we couldn’t help still wishing for it.

One month into the new year, it’s clear that many of the social, business and political challenges remain, along with the continued aftermath of the pandemic. We need self-care like never before but not just any old self-care. In these high-stakes and stressful times, we need radical self-care.

Radical self-care isn’t just bubble baths and indulgence in a bag of quality chocolates; it’s taking responsibility for our lives and owning elements within our control to maximize our wellness and potential. In other words, what is really going on in your life that has you needing self-care in the first place? What’s infringing on your breathing room? What are the deeper causes of those feelings of overwhelm that you can impact, right here and now?

Sustainable Self-Care Starts with Resilience

Self-care that provides a sustainable, long-term solution to overwhelm and stress must start with resilience—an essential life skill. It helps us overcome adversity positively, bounce back, and maintain a personal drive not to give up. With resilience, we can take personal ownership of our circumstances professionally and personally in order to manage our stress effectively as we respond and take consistent action.

Here are three tips to increase resilience in everyday life:

1. Clear your clutter

One of the quickest ways to increase resilience is to examine the amount of clutter you have—both in your living space and your mind.

In your home and office, messy areas can be distracting, prevent focus, and cause stress. Set aside time to organize, including throwing out or donating anything that’s not needed. Create open space on counters, walls, and other areas in your home that seem to be magnets for clutter — even desk, bathroom or kitchen “catch-all” drawers.

To clear your mind, be willing to examine your thoughts and the level of discernment and clarity you have in your life. If you are constantly distracted or can’t focus, take this to heart: sometimes we need to slow down before we can speed up so we can evaluate, make a decision, and then take clear action. Most of the time our minds are in the past or the future. Work on being in the present moment by focusing and elongating your breath to slow down your thoughts in order to make a clear decision. This step is all about focusing on what you can control rather than what you can’t.

2. Refine your habits:

Your habits and routines are the structures that create your freedom to flow and be fully in the moment. When it comes to habits, think of them in terms of three categories: habits you need to stop, habits you need to continue, and habits you need to start.

For instance, a distracting habit you might need to stop is checking social media too often, binge-watching Netflix, or repeatedly hitting the snooze button. You might also have good habits you’re already doing that you want to continue, like eating a healthy diet of whole foods and mostly vegetables. There may also be new habits you want to start, like implementing a morning routine of exercising for 10 minutes, or planning out your day the night before so you know what to expect. Keep your habits simple and consistent to experience the most ease with them.

3. Fortify your support

Once you’ve cleared the clutter and refined your habits, the next step is to create structures of support in your life to help you stay connected and on track.

To better understand how you want to position support in your life, go back to your list of habits from the previous step and add your goals to it. Next, determine the environment and individuals that are needed to support you as you strive to accomplish the goals and maintain the habits you’ve identified. For example, you might identify a need for accountability partners and mentors or a need for a less busy calendar. Once you’ve identified those needs, practice communicating them clearly and directly.

Lastly, make sure you have mental and emotional strategies to be able to process events in your life so you can let go and move on when unexpected situations happen. For example, choosing to respond versus react in a given situation, embracing curiosity if something unpleasant happens, and asking questions before coming to a judgment or conclusion are all strategies you can use to process events in a healthy manner.

The Bottom Line: Keep Things Simple

From food to our routines and habits to creating healthy boundaries, keeping things simple and focused helps us avoid overwhelm. Slow down and reflect on how you could plan your week ahead to support yourself in feeling calm and focused.

What’s radical about this approach to self-care is the responsibility piece. When we take responsibility for the elements in our lives that we have control over, we build resilience and empower ourselves to create an experience of life that’s in alignment with our goals and values. Now’s a good time as any to clear away the clutter and make space to create the life you want.

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Jim Lao
Partner & President
TvH Group
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