As we pass the one year anniversary of the first lockdown in the UK I hope you can take a moment or two to reflect on the rollercoaster of a ride that you’ve navigated.
Even before the pandemic hit life could be challenging for us as working mums. But then you were asked to give more than you potentially had in your reserves. Holding the fort at home while also trying to juggle your work and everyone’s heightened emotions, not to mention home learning.
The cognitive and emotional complexity of the last 12 months are likely to have tested you to your limits at times.
So how is your resilience doing now?
You may not have had the time to even consider this question. Or if you have, you may not have had a chance to process the last 12 months to come up with an answer.
Here are seven signs that your resilience could be running low after the last 12 months
1.Feeling low on energy
If you feel like you’ve been tested beyond your limits over the last 12 months this can push you out of your ‘window of tolerance’ – the resilience zone that you were used to operating in. When you’re forced to operate outside of this zone for too long it can leave you feeling depleted. Not only physically tired but also emotionally.
This place of ‘hypo-arousal’ is your body’s natural freeze response to protect itself. In this space you may feel an emotional numbness or emptiness.
2. Feeling Irritable
Over the last 12 months your brain has had a lot to contend with. The uncertainty, complexity, ambiguity and ever changing situation has meant that your brain has probably been in a state of higher alert than usual, even if at times you’ve not been aware of it.
Your human mind is an incredible thing but its wiring is based on a ‘don’t get killed’ architecture that has kept us safe as a species over millennia but isn’t always fit for purpose in our modern world. The downside of constantly being on alert is that it can leave you feeling emotionally full-up while simultaneously being depleted. This combination can leave you feeling irritable.
3. Struggling to concentrate
If you find yourself flitting from task to task, not being able to focus or getting easily distracted these can be signs of low resilience. If you have been operating outside of your resilience zone you may have become hyper aroused. This is where your nervous system is on high alert looking for potential threats. The constant scanning of your environment for these threats can make it difficult to focus on one task at a time.
4. Feeling overloaded
The last 12 months have created seismic shifts in the way that we’ve lived and worked. You’ve likely been forced to combine your role as a mother with your work simultaneously during the pandemic. The strategies that may have supported you to thrive as a working mum pre-COVID probably weren’t accessible or available. Your to-do-list has likely continued to build without the effective time or resources to tackle it – it’s natural to feel overwhelmed and overloaded when this happens.
5.Overreacting to normal stressors
Ever have that moment when the printer runs out of ink and you just lose it? You know your reaction is disproportionate to the actual event but you just can’t help it?
When your resilience has been pushed to its limits your flight and flight response can become easily triggered. The part of your brain responsible for emotional responses (your amygdala) can get stuck on high alert – becoming super sensitive to events. Leaving you at risk of an amygdala hijack from seemingly innocuous events as it triggers a much more intense emotional response.
6. Overuse of avoidance strategies
When your resilience is low you’re more likely to experience difficult thoughts and emotions. Sitting with these experiences can feel uncomfortable so you may want to escape the present moment and distract yourself. Maybe you find yourself zoning out by mindlessly scrolling through social media. Maybe you’ve noticed your alcohol intake has increased the last 12 months. Or you’ve been emotionally eating. Or overthinking. Or maybe avoiding doing what you know you need to do because you don’t feel resourced enough to deal with it.
7.Struggling to make decisions
If you’ve found yourself struggling to make decisions and have lost direction this can be another sign that your resilience is running low.
When you’ve been operating outside of your resilience zone your body and mind can be tricked into believing you’re under threat. When your nervous system is in a fight and flight response you lose your ability to access the part of your brain for executive functioning known as your Prefrontal Cortex.
This part of your brain that helps you to rationally process, make decisions, weight up the pros and cons and plan becomes less accessible. Your body prioritises your immediate safety over the ability to make considered decisions. This can leave you feeling like you can’t think properly. You’ve not lost your IQ but it can become temporarily impaired when you’re feeling less resilient.
Can you relate to any of these signs? If you’re feeling less-than-resilient right now I want you to know you’re not alone – so many of us are feeling like our resilience is running low after the last 12 months.
As we emerge from this pandemic it will be vital for us to take the time to replenish our resilience so that we can recover from this time feeling stronger and wiser. I hope you can take this time if you need it.
P.S. If you’d like some support to recover your resilience get yourself on the waitlist for my resilience resources that I’m going to be launching in the next few weeks. You’ll be the first to know when the resources get released.