It happens when I least expect it. It might be the lyrics to a song, or the way the sunshine lights up the clouds, or even just seeing my son or daughter’s phone number come up on my phone….any tiny thing can bring tears. It seems that so many times throughout the day, something triggers emotion and my eyes well up.
I’m not talking about sobbing or “snottin’ and ballin’”; but like the Grinch said, “I’m leaking”. I’m caught between feeling overwhelmed at the tragedies we’re experiencing and inspired by the acts of bravery and love that are happening all over the world. I worry about my wonderful friend Olivia, a Naval Warfare Officer and Navigating Officer on board the HMCS Fredericton, but then when I send out a request for sheets and fabric, I get so much that I have to make 3 trips to deliver it to all the people sewing masks and gowns.
I consider myself to be (relatively) mentally healthy and resilient, capable of dealing with whatever life throws at me. It’s not that I am super-human, but more that I have such a strong support network all around me that getting through the tough times is manageable. I also normally work out of my home, so I am used to the quiet, the lack of social interaction and the only being that I get to interact with is lying on her bed moaning because we haven’t gone for a walk in at least 20 minutes.
I worry about how people are going to feel when they go back to their normal workplace. I worry about them now, as they struggle to adjust and accept a new way of working. Whether you are working alone, in a small firm, a medium or even a large company with many people, investing in mental wellness and resiliency is something that needs to happen.
People with higher levels of resiliency are more likely to weather these challenging times than people with lower levels. And we also know that resiliency is not static — it’s dynamic. It requires intention and focus. It’s a trainable skill (who knew!) that anyone can learn to help them better manage the setbacks that we are presented by life and work. And we seem to be dealing with many of those lately.
Being aware and mindful and making simple choices about your behaviour – like deciding to take a walk each day, to smile broadly at people driving past, or to be kind to yourself – can help to reduce stress and struggles and increase our personal resiliency.
I would like to see all businesses take a pro-active approach to mental wellness and resiliency, to help us all learn to be more resilient. So that when we all return to the workforce, we will have the ability to push through challenges. We need to refocus, adapt and develop the personal tools to build up our resiliency reserves.
When Olivia was in Grade 8, my daughter Jaime and I would go to the soccer pitch and kick balls at her while she stood in the net. At first, most of the shots got past her. But she would refocus and adapt her behaviour so that she could stop the balls. Eventually, she could stop anything I kicked towards her. But Jaime’s kick was wayyyyyy harder than mine, so it took endless refocusing and adapting on Olivia’s part before she could make those saves. But she was resilient – when one ball would go past her, she would refocus and adapt. It is how she lives her life now.
The one constant in our lives right now is change. We need to foster our resilience, our ability to adapt to stressful situations that seem to keep being thrown in our path. It’s okay if you find yourself with a tear in your eye now and then. That turned out okay for the Grinch.
As a country, our economy is stretched right now. Investing in mental wellness and resiliency will be critical to help us all return to where we want to be. If you’d like to make that first step, drop me a note. I work with an organization called WMA Wellness and I can help you to support your business by training in-house facilitators in mental fitness, resiliency and positive leadership practices. https://www.wmawellness.com/index.php .
 From stopping balls at the Caledon East Public School, Lieutenant Olivia Clarke went on to represent Canada at the World Military Soccer Championships in France in 2016.