Let’s talk about: RESILIENCE
I’ve long said that it requires a large dose of optimism to be in the field of conservation.
A deeply rooted belief that we can preserve, conserve and protect all the wild things.
It takes determination to keep pressing forward every single day, working on behalf of species, habitats and ecosystems everywhere.
And it can be f’ing exhausting!!
The dark side
While I am extremely passionate about conserving the environment and I love what I do, I can occasionally get flooded with negative thoughts.
It can be hard to admit that these cynical ideas surface. Yet I can’t imagine I’m alone in these moments:
Sometimes I wonder if the change we seek is even possible or if it’s just fantasy.
Sometimes I worry that it’s too little, too late.
Sometimes I think people are just the worst.
Sometimes I think about throwing my to-do list in the recycling bin and heading out to the beach.
Sometimes I think that barista job looks pretty damn enticing.
Sometimes I want to SELECT ALL > DELETE my inbox.
Maybe when you’re also feeling the weight of the world, you have similar thoughts of your own.
the capacity to recover quickly from difficulties; toughness.
In my view, having the tools and skills to be resilient is ESSENTIAL for anyone working towards environmental and social change.
Even on those days when we’re not receiving depressing news about the environment, we still have to contend with our own, sometimes dark and cynical, thoughts.
So how can we continually recharge so we wake up every day with optimism, confidence and determination?
Honestly, I wish organizations in our field did more to build and nurture these skills for their staff. Instead of it being every person for themselves or survival of the fit.
Building a Resiliency Regimen
I definitely do not have the solutions here.
I’m still working on incorporating recharge activities into my regular routine so I don’t get to the point where I need to hit ‘cancel’ on the rest of my day (which I found myself doing not long ago).
But I want to share the things I do semi-regularly to help keep my resilience strong in the hopes that it sparks ideas for you and that you’ll share your tips with me.
I punch and kick stuff. Literally. I’ve been boxing for 20 years and more recently picked up Muay Thai. Nothing shakes off a bad mood quite like hitting stuff.
I dabble in different hobbies where I can focus on the task at hand and let go of everything else. I’m not very good at any of these, but I’ve found that even getting frustrated by something else is helpful to the psyche.
- Coloring books for adults
- Cooking & baking (and pickling!)
I pamper myself when I can. My favorites are:
- Baths in the colder months (relaxation playlist, bubbles, a candle and a feel-good magazine that you don’t care if it gets wet)
- Guilty reading pleasures that whisk me away to another place where people have much bigger problems than I do (like solving murders)
Making time for the classic approaches:
- Yoga classes, especially those focused on mindfulness
- Spending time with friends
- Your call on whether being around people in a similar line of work is most helpful at that moment, or not. Sometimes it’s nice to gripe to those who get it; sometimes it’s nice to hear different types of woes.
- Getting outside
And GOOD GOLLY – take your vacation days. ALL OF THEM!
I know it often feels like you can’t afford the time away. But you can. They’re your days to take, so take ’em!
If you get 3 or 4 weeks off a year, then plot them out at the start of the year – one week every 3-4 months.
It’s okay if you don’t have a plan or destination yet. Just having those weeks on the books (and in your org’s time-off system) helps ensure you’ll plan around them, plan for them, and take them.
Here’s to keeping our energy and efforts strong!