Writing Helps You Build ResiliencePosted on March 25, 2020
In this confusing time, you may recognize the constant churning of thoughts in your head that keep demand your attention. They’re further fueled by all the news updates where facts and opinions are mixed together, so you’re not sure what to believe. You’re on high alert because your brain automatically picks up on the signs of danger and crisis. Resilience is required! But what is resilience and how do you build it?
Acceptance and giving meaning
Building resilience starts with accepting reality (Diane Couthu, HBR 2002): today’s reality that you have to accept is Covid-19. You can’t ignore that what’s going on now has brought you to an abrupt stop. Every day the reality of what’s going on settles in a little further. You’re trying to make sense of everything, to give it meaning. What does this mean for you and the people close to you? What does it mean for your business? And for the world? You think about different scenarios – positive and negative. What steps can you take in the here and now? And so the churning and thinking in your head continues. You feel tired, in need of a fresh perspective. What helps? Getting some fresh air, taking a walk – making sure to practice social “distancing”. Connect with others, online or by phone. Definitely continue doing this.
Write to read what you’re thinking
Writing is another option at your fingertips. Professor James Pennebaker (University of Texas) has done a lot of research on how writing has a healing effect, especially when trauma and negative events occur.
Now I’m not trying to talk you into more trauma or build on the uncertainty or the fears that you feel. You’re already having conversations virtually and at home that creates enough stress; and working from home itself creates tension. There is a lot going on. However, writing can help you let go of this stress.
Pennebaker calls this not just writing, but expressive writing. Free writing where you completely empty your thoughts onto the paper. Don’t stop to assess what you’ve written, just let it all flow out. Let yourself go in all directions, whatever comes to mind. Do set a word limit (for example 3 pages) or time limit (half an hour)And you will be amazed…….Reading back what’s on your mind is enlightening. An accountant once said to me, “I know what I think when I hear what I say.” Writing is the variant of this. Writing has a stress-reducing effect, it lowers your blood pressure and heart rate. Pennebaker and his colleague John Evans found that this type writing actually boosts your immune system, a comforting thought in the current circumstances! So get started, sit down daily, make a journal. If you’re not sufficiently committed to it, then consider getting an e-coach who can help you with it. You write and receive substantive, useful responses that help you feel better. Writing your questions, thoughts, and emotions helps clarify them and structure them. The questions asked by your e-Coach focus your attention, helping your self-management and focus. Get going!