2022 has been a year of challenges. We all had to adapt, learn, and survive massive change. Here are just a few examples:

  • COVID-19
  • Systemic racism and other racial inequities exposed with massive demonstrations
  • Economic uncertainty and the uneven impact of economic recovery
  • Increased political division and uncertainty
  • Climate change and natural disasters

Each of these challenges carries loss and grief – the loss of routines, what we consider normal behavior, and the loss of loved ones. If 2023 brings similar challenges, how do we maintain our resilience?

Inviting softness into our lives will be a skill that will continue to contribute to the quality of our lives far into the future.

Inviting softness into our lives to maintain resilience 

Resilience is defined as the ability to experience disruption and still maintain function. Here are a few suggestions to help us invite softness into our lives so we nurture ourselves in times of disruption and in the face of grief and loss.

  1. Apply the self-care advice you give to others to yourself. One of the gender-related patterns for women is that we count all the other people in our lives ahead of ourselves. A simple way to change this is to listen to the advice you give to your friends and apply it to yourselves as well.

  1. Create a phrase that invites self-compassion. I have started to put “of course” in front of my sentences when I find that I am judging myself. Instead of saying, “I should” be more motivated, “I should” be more productive, I say, “of course.” For example, “Of course” there are going to be days when I just want to relax, sleep in, or nap in the middle of the day. The “of course” phrase invites me to be softer and less judgmental of myself. It also allows me to be in the moment, not stressed about what I “should” be doing.
  1. Respond to your feelings and events with gentle kindness for yourself. I live alone and have started giving myself “butterfly hugs” to invite more kindness of self into my life. A butterfly hug is when you cross your arms in front of you and have your hands pat your shoulders. It is a physical way to give yourself care and emotional support.
  1. Take time to notice what you need and give it to yourself. When we grit our teeth or hunker down to “just get through,” we often ignore what our bodies or emotions are asking us to acknowledge. When we take time to listen to our emotions and bodies and respond to what we need in the moment, we are nurturing our self-resilience.
  1. Add softness into your life. Many strategies help us bring softness into our lives during this difficult and unusual year. Here is a final laundry list I keep in mind whenever I need to become softer.
    • Just breathe! Deep breathing is a wonderful way to take a moment and relax from the stress you are feeling.
    • Take a walk or spend five minutes outside in nature.
    • Dance, do yoga, or any pleasurable movement to get yourself out of your head and back into your body.
    • Make a gratitude list. It can shift your focus from loss to your abundance of gifts.
    • Choose what you pay attention to. Focusing on what is working well instead of the losses you have experienced can help you remember there are new gifts and possibilities of change, not just loss.
    • Stay in the moment. Being fully in the present moment gives us a short vacation from the complexity of our lives.

We must acknowledge that 2022 has been a challenging year for most of us. Instead of judging and diminishing our sense of self or self-worth, we should use this time to nurture ourselves. How do you invite softness into your life?