New Day, New Me. theresilienceseries

Dr Ioanna Nixon, 30.12.21

I have a dream, as 2021 is about to pass, about a new year of recovery, restoration, resilience, and reinvigoration. A year when we will wake up each day with the mindset of “new day, new me”.

It has been a difficult, challenging year. A year in a VUCA world. For those non familiar with the term VUCA, it stands for Volatility, Uncertainty, Complexity and Ambiguity. As a mom of two young boys, and an NHS Consultant oncologist I had to navigate my way through VUCA day in, day out. Have you been the same?

Life is not a straight line. Many unplanned events can happen that are hard to accept, manage and get through. So, I decided to write about how we, moms and dads out there can navigate through times of crisis. How we can be resilient when things are uncertain and ambiguous. How we can keep it all together. Dedicated to many of us who last year dealt with significant life-changing events, uncertainty and situations that challenged their resilience.

“Dear 2021,
You have been an utterly tough year. Let’s face it…you took me out of my comfort zone in every single level. You came along with many challenges to the point I am unsure where exactly to begin. …………………..

Dear 2021, a year ago I never dreamed of saying this, but THANK YOU. You have been the most transformative and restorative year in my life.

2022, I ‘ve got your back! Reminding me every day “New Day, New Me”.

Love,
Ioanna

Here is my farewell to 2021. You can tell you are missing the story, or else my challenge. I don’t think that matters. Challenges are different, however is there a way we can manage through and thrive through? Time to share with you what I discovered over the last 363 days. I figured out that to cope and balance first thing and most difficult of all is to accept and embrace everything. Accept the challenge and fully attend. To enable one to understand. Then self-empathising, before asking myself the 1-million-dollar question:

How can I help? How can I support myself get through?

We as parents frequently forget to ask that question until a challenging situation forces us to. Juggling a busy life, even at times of calm, we forget to be self-compassionate. Practicing self-compassion is central to being more resilient and enable us to be compassionate parents. It is a necessary component to foster our wellbeing and wellness.

So, in the challenging 2021 I kept reminded myself   of the following:

We all are work in progress

Be kind to myself. What does that mean in action? It means looking after yourself.

For me it meant showing the same kindness I show to my patients and my families. I started paying attention to my thoughts and deliberately change the way I spoke to myself. I became friends with my imposter and soothed the inner voice that would worry about everything or think no action is enough.

Top tips:

  • Put a routine in place of actions of self-kindness.
  • Maintain a self-care routine: make your wellness your priority
  • Speak to yourself like you would speak to someone you love. Pay attention to the words you use.

Breath. Honour your pauses. Take a pause. Give yourself permission to take a pause. To me this was a hard one. As a mom of two and a career person, pauses where not on my daily routine. Working is speedy pace, I felt at times I was running a marathon sprinting. For odd reasons, it felt right, and it was hard for me to actually give myself permission to take a break and pause. Step by step I learned how to honour my “pauses”.

Top tips:

Incorporate 5-minute breathing spaces in your daily routine. Just stop and breathe. There are several online tools and apps you can use for breathing.

Seek new knowledge and learn new skills:  cliché, but knowledge is power. It offers a whole new perspective, new ways of approaching a challenge, it generates new ideas. It can lead to opportunities! You can also learn more about how others dealt with a similar challenge in life.

In my case, I read many books. I decided to invest on the foundation to develop others and obtained a diploma in coaching. Becoming a coach helped me become more self-aware, practice active listening and improve relationships with others.

I started trying new things too. Completely new. including active listening, to myself and others and removing all the background distracting noise. Incredible things start to happen once you truly listen, understand.

Maintain a growth mindset: At times I would catch myself having a “black or white” thinking, only to remind me to challenge this. Look at the bigger picture, embrace a growth mindset and practice saying the phrase “I can’t yet”. There is so much power hiding in this little word!

To do the best for our kids we need to foster our own wellness

At the same time, I realised the incredible power of marginal gains. Baby steps and perseverance.

Top tips:

  • Try new things
  • Express your creativity
  • Keep a positive perspective

What symbolises my journey is planting a red lion flower. As I witnessed it blossoming and looked after it, I saw the reflection of my own recovery and restoration. I now feel much richer. Not in physical belongings, but in experiences, in gratitude, in self-awareness, clarity, courage, new knowledge and friendship.

Going back to my story, my baby steps took me far! Not compared to others and their journey. Compared to where I was 363 days ago. My biggest treasure is being more in the here and now. Being present in the moment. Accept I am work in progress; we all are!

Dr Ioanna Nixon, PhD, MPH, FFMLM, FRCR
Consultant Oncologist
Executive Coach (Leadership, Career Development, Resilience Coach)

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