The Ultimate Guide to Resilience Care for Business Leaders

Being busy and burning out are worn as badges of honour in today’s workplace… But those badges come at a cost to the health of the individual and the long-term success of their business.

Resilience Care is the antidote for stress, overwhelm and burn out.

1.0 The Problem: Why is burnout such an issue? (What is Resilience Care and why is it important?)

If you found your way here to learn more about stress management, do any of these symptoms sound familiar?

  • You’re doing your best to prioritize good habits but just can’t seem to get ahead
  • You struggle with sleep, anxiety, stress, or exhaustion on a regular basis
  • You’ve been noticing others at work struggling with low morale, high turnover, or burnout
  • You’re feeling worse or no better despite doing things that have worked in the past, like eating well and exercising
  • You’re feeling overwhelmed by all the conflicting wellness advice out there

Maybe you’ve been working on these issues for a while, and made some progress before you hit a wall. Maybe it’s working out well for yourself but bringing the culture to your team has been a challenge.

Maybe sometimes its even seemed like the toxic culture that glorifies overwork and demonizes rest is too deeply entrenched to change.

You’re not alone.

Since COVID, turnover has grown significantly and has been a major barrier for creating better workplaces in many industries. In Canada, there are over 80% more job vacancies in 2021 than in 2019.

Many of us are feeling a lack of engagement at work and there’s a lack of trust, respect, and support from leadership. These challenges are creating or contributing to dissatisfaction, turnover, burnout, and a feeling that there’s nothing you can do to change things.

We’ve been there too. And we’re here to tell you from lots of experience that the reason you’re feeling stuck isn’t because you aren’t strong enough, or because every work environment sucks.

The true reason we see over and over again for people stuck?

Spending too much time on eliminating stressors, and not nearly enough on reducing the stress itself.

See, we’ve been taught that the stressors (the things stressing us out) and the stress (the measurable body experience of fight or flight mode) are the same thing. But as researcher Emily Nagoski lays out in her book Burnout, in today’s world most of us can usually point out at least 10 stressors weighing on us, but few of us know how to recognize and purge the physical stress that comes with it. And that stress in the body often keeps pumping long after the thing stressing us out is gone.

And this is a major problem, because for those of us with years of built up stress hormones, that physical stress is likely to kill us way sooner than any of the things that stress us out to begin with.

Resilience is your body's ability to get back up and push through, even after life's challenges knock you down.

Now, when we say 'push though' we don’t mean ignoring your needs to do more, hustle harder, or any of the other grind mentalities.

See the thing is, hustle culture hasn't lived up to the hype. People are more burned out than ever before, and more and more Millennials and Gen Z-ers are looking for more than just a paycheque from the place they spend most of their time.

Deloitte’s Workplace Burnout Survey reveals that "84 percent of millennials say they have experienced burnout at their current job, compared to 77 percent of all respondents. Nearly half of millennials say they have left a job specifically because they felt burned out, compared to 42 percent of all respondents.

Whether you're in a leadership role or just a natural leader—that is, anyone who looks out for the people around them—sometimes it seems like the work never ends.

Wanting to live a simpler life with more time and more energy is one thing, but actually making it happen can be a whole other level of hard in today's world.

The good news is, new research is being published every year. We know more than ever before about healing stress, burnout, and trauma to grow stronger and mightier year after year, instead of more exhausted and bitter.

The research is still new enough that it can be hard to put into practice though. That's where we come in. We've distilled the findings of respected researchers like brene Brown and Emily Nagoski into simple proven systems that are flexible enough to apply no matter what your context is.

We go deeper than just changing our habits though, we understand that the friction holding us back from loving ourselves and our work as a society have deep systemic Roots that need to be addressed. Our systems are designed to work for all humans, including the neurodivergent and marginalized. And so just by using them you're working to dismantle the broken systems that chain us all.

We’re starting to see a new body of research emerge around this new understanding of stress, but it’s still just getting going. So while we have lots of literature on the issue—When the Body Says No, The Body Keeps the Score, and a host of others—we don’t have nearly as many books that outline solutions that are practical and easy to apply in the real world.

This is partially because stress and resilience can be kinda tough to unpack, so it can be tempting to simplify by skipping the social contexts and norms that are woven into our lives and perceptions around it.

Stress impacts everyone across the board. But we, like Emily & Amelia Nagoski, believe that skipping the context is a mistake.

The truth is, if we want to change things we need to speak more freely about how our society’s current norms minimize and make things harder for anyone who doesn’t fit the mold. This is especially true for women, people of color, neurodivergent folks, and the LGBTQA+ community.

This doesn’t mean we’re trying to exclude middle class white men, or claim that certain groups don’t experience real stress, hardship, and trauma.

Quite the opposite! Creating a culture of abundance, resilience, and mutual support means that nobody gets left behind.

We believe that by creating systems that are accessible for anyone willing to do the work—including those who struggle with bias,

marginalization, and neurodivergence—we build a stronger world for all of us as a whole.

The ingredients for building resilience may be the same for everyone, but the recipe is unique every time. Building resilience to stress and hardship is a deeply personal process even when it happens at work… and so the building blocks need to be flexible and context-specific.

That’s why we’ve distilled new research into a flexible system called Resilience Care that can be adapted to your unique needs, and again to the needs of the people in your life.

We can’t literally do the work for you. But we can help you understand the building blocks of resilience in simple terms, and help you move through your blocks to achieve real change.

Lasting change that radically improves your life, your team, and your business–it starts with you. And this guide will break down how to start creating lasting results today.

Ready? Let’s start by wrapping our minds around how stress impacts your body.

Past events, relationships and traumas are holding you back today unless you’ve properly unpacked them. We champion therapy here, but learning how to unpack your baggage to get off the carousel ride from hell doesn’t need to require a laying down couch and hours of your time every week. Learn how to identify the baggage that’s weighing you down, then reframe your story to move beyond the baggage.

2.0 The Secret: How stress and stimulation impact the body (What your body requires to function properly)

To simplify Resilience Care, we like to use the example of a friendly video game character called The Human Machine.

The secret to Resilience Care, and the reason why it’s so effective, is because even though much of it is body based, it’s holistic… that is to say, it works with your mind, body, emotions, relationships, and thus life as a whole. Even though we usually speak from a work context, everything here applies to your personal life too.

The Human Machine is a story-based metaphor to help you understand how your body processes stress, and what to do about it. Don't worry if you have a literal brain, we'll break it down with specifics.

Body Regulation: Your secret weapon to building resilience

We tend to think of our bodies, minds, and feelings as three separate things that only loosely connect to each other. And if anything, our body’s needs often comes in dead last for what we prioritize day to day.

But what if I told you that your body’s level of regulation is actually the key to addressing a massive amount of mental and emotional challenges you might be facing?

Yeah, yeah, you might say. Exercise, good diet, etc etc.

In truth, while we can’t deny that exercise and diet are hard hitters for body health, that’s not what we’re talking about here.

We’re talking about how when your thoughts or emotions are out of whack, there’s usually a measurable experience happening in the body, and we can use that to reverse-engineer healing chronic stress, complex trauma, and other experiences we usually try to fix (with limited success) to heal with our brain alone.

Sound intriguing? Keep reading, ‘cuz we’ll break it down for you piece by piece.

And to help us make it easy to understand, we would like to introduce our friend the Human Machine. Please give them a warm welcome!

The Human Machine was born from the idea that deep down on the inside, each one of us is just a squishy and sensitive pile of moosh. That’s why at birth, we’re each given a unique human suit to navigate the world.

Most of us already get that our body suit shields and protects us. But we weren’t exactly taught in school the practical side of how our body machine works, or how to take care of it properly.

(This guide is the owner’s manual you always wish you had.)

See, as complicated as our bodies may seem, just like in a video game the Human Machine’s regulation—and therefore your health as a human—come down to basically only 3 things:

1. Stamina (the bank of fuel you pull from daily)

2. Core HP (energy reserved for your core function)

3. Gear (your resistance or sensitivity to the world’s inputs

Let’s unpack those a little further.

Your Stamina Bar

This is the bank of energy you use to fuel your gear and expend energy over the course of the day. Normally it regenerates every day, but if your system is not getting enough rest or you’re pushing your capacity regularly, your overall stamina starts to go down.

When your stamina runs out for the day, your system usually shuts down to rest until you’ve regenerated enough to go on. If you push through without rest, more energy spent has nowhere to come from but your Core HP.

Your Core HP

It can be tempting to think of this as interchangeable with Stamina, but in reality your Core HP is Squishy Sensitive You’s vital life essence… and it doesn’t regenerate nearly as fast. Sadly, many of us go out every day with only a few measly blinky hearts left from pushing too hard for too long.

Except that in real life, you don’t get to start at your last save point when your HP runs out—you get sick. The kind of sick that isn’t so easy to fix, like autoimmune disorders or cancer.

Before you get to that point, you might start to notice other issues, like chronic fatigue, digestive problems, or persistent sleep problems.

Feeling nervous yet? Don’t worry, we’ll teach you how to rebuild your Core HP over time. But first, one last aspect of regulation…

Your Gear

Gear starts to get a bit more complex, because you don’t just have one. Instead, you have 5 types of gear:

1. Mental Gear (processes clear thinking, processing, and problem solving)

2. Emotional Gear (processes emotional turmoil & big feelings)

3. People and Energy Gear (processes social interactions and shared spaces)

4. Terrain Gear (processes your environment, including light and sound)

5. Body State Gear (processes your body functions like being hungry or tired)

Input (aka “stimulation) comes in from the world, and we process it through one of these gears. Some of us have extra resistance or extra sensitivity in one or more of those gears, so getting to know your unique gear and its strengths is essential.

Most of us know what it’s like to wear down or burn out a type of gear. What you may not know is that as soon as one of your gears is out of whack, you start consuming stamina at a massively increased rate to compensate. Likewise, if you’re out of stamina the wear on your gear day to day gets a lot heavier.

The good news is, when you’re burnt out you’re rarely burnt out on every type of gear. More likely, you’ve burned out one by overusing it, so you can always lean a little more intentionally into other gear instead of hopefully whipping the dead horse of whichever gear is burnt out.

Putting it all together: your State of Being

If Stamina is your fuel tank, Core HP is your vital life essence, and Gears are your protection from the world, how do we know where we’re at in any given moment?

The answer is our State of Regulation, which is like a little sensor that tells you what to expect from your Human Machine in any given moment.

Sadly this sensor faces outwards, so it’s often easier for others to see and understand whether we’re regulated or not.

There are four states:

Blue - Rapid Heal Mode

Green - Normal Mode

Yellow - Fight or Flight Mode (Action Needed)

Red - Freeze Mode (Action Needed)

While green means all-systems-go, yellow means that we’re draining our stamina rapidly and a specific type of action is needed to get back to green, and red is the signal that our Human Machine is shutting down entirely and we are depleting our Core HP.

Resilience Care is essentially a process for leveling up your gear over time to get stronger. After all, with overpowered gear you can laugh off basically any challenge.

But how do you actually level up your gear in the real world? (Hint, it’s not by chopping down as many enemies as you can.)

3.0 The Solution: Resilience Care’s Stabilize Loop (Practical steps to reduce stress, overwhelm and burn out)

The Stabilize Loop is a solution that helps you start to work with The Human Machine so that you can manage your experience of life. You’ll learn how to create energy and resilience for yourself and your team day-to-day by realigning habits with capacity.

3a. Intro: Realign your habits with your capacity to grow your capacity

We’ve simplified the process into something we like to call The Stabilize Loop, but it will still require some work on your part. Ready to start your radical Resilence Care journey? Here’s what The Stabilize Loop looks like from a high level:

Reclaim Rest

Sleep isn’t a reward, it’s requirement for basic human function. But we know that getting enough quality sleep can be a challenge. Lucky for us, sleep is not the only form of rest! High achievers lean on lesser-known forms of rest to maximize their productivity without sacrificing their well-being. Learn more about these sneaky forms of rest that you can squeeze into a busy day.

Reduce Stressors

Chronic stress has been normalized, but your brain and body are not in optimal form while they’re under stress. You can use the power of boundaries with yourself and others to reduce the amount of stress that you keep yourself under. Learn how to set and maintain effective boundaries, plus the science of crossing things off your to-do list without generating infinitely more.

Unpack Baggage

Past events, relationships and traumas are holding you back today unless you’ve properly unpacked them. We champion therapy here, but learning how to unpack your baggage to get off the carousel ride from hell doesn’t need to require a laying down couch and hours of your time every week. Learn how to identify the baggage that’s weighing you down, then reframe your story to move beyond the baggage.

4.0 The Next Solution: Smash the broken systems to stop the cycle of pain

The solution to stress, overwhelm and burnout is the Stabilize Loop that you learned above. Learning and applying that loop will help you build resilience to live a better life.

And if you want to go deeper, we’ve got to get to the bottom of what’s causing stress, overwhelm and burnout in the first place. I’ll give you a hint, it’s not you.

There are broken systems that we’ve been caught in.

Learn the True Enemy

The true enemy is the oppressive systems we live in. The book Burnout, by Emily and Amelia Nagoski, identifies the true enemy as the Bikini Industrial Complex.

Knowing the true enemy helps you prevent self sabatoging behaviours and identify the roots of your stress, overwhelm or burnout. Once you know the true enemy, you can stop playing by the rules of the rigged game and create your own instead. Creating your own rules or new game in life can help you create meaning from your experiences that have not gone the way you wanted them to.

Change the Game

We’ve been sold a bunch of lies from an oppressive system that is rigged against us. To start doing things differently, we have to learn how to embrace discomfort. The rigged game teaches us to seek comfort always, so it has painted pain and discomfort with the same brush. It has also taught us that we need to be perfect in order to avoid being vulnerable or getting hurt.

In order to make real and lasting changes, we’ve got to learn how to identify the difference between pain and discomfort so that we can choose discomfort where we grow through to another side that is more rewarding and supportive of our well-being.

5.0 Common Barriers to Success: How to make a real and lasting difference (Get out of your own way to make progress)

If there’s one mantra to remember through the entire resilience care process, that’s it. This is a radical, holistic approach to revamping your day-to-day processes, and it’s going to be tough before it gets better. So don’t give up before your breakthrough. Here are some common barriers to look out for:

1. ID’ing what to do first and next. Breaking your journey down into small steps is often a good approach to make everything seem more manageable, but sometimes looking at a list of goals and steps can also be overwhelming. Don’t let that overwhelm get to you. Know that there’s a process for everything and no time limit on how quickly you need to get each step done.

2. Big disruptions or changes in the world. The last few years have seen massive disruptions. Take, for example, the global pandemic that knocked us all on our asses. But COVID isn’t the only major disruptor. Racial tension, elections, natural disasters, and so many other global issues impact our stress and well-being, and it’s okay to take time to process and recover from those external stressors.

3. Small disruptions affect us too! Anything from a breakup, a move, or any other unexpected changes in our lives can throw us for a loop and take some time to adjust.

4. Healing crisis - It can get worse before it gets better. Probably the most jarring barrier is what we call a ‘healing crisis, which is what we referred to earlier: it gets worse before it gets better. Radical change is HARD. it’s time and energy-consuming, and even as your body is processing positive changes, it can take some time to adjust. That means you may actually feel increased anxiety, fatigue, stress, etc. as you’re on your path to healing.

Compassion fatigue. This is a MASSIVE cognitive block and is not talked about enough. Especially as a leader, it’s so easy to take on the burden of feeling what everyone on your team is feeling. When they hurt, you hurt. This also goes for friends, family, and the world at large. Feeling so much compassion for so many people can be overwhelming and lead to exhaustion and overwhelm on its own.

6.0 Supporting Others Sustainably: Being a compassionate leader (Effectively dealign with stress, overwhelm and burnout for others starts with you)

As a leader, one of our main goals is to support others. Building a team means providing the tools for success for those around us, but sometimes, we just don’t have the capacity. And that’s okay!

Recognizing that you have to take a step back is the most helpful thing you can do when the alternative is burnout. Here’s how to do it effectively:

1. Assessing your capacity so that you don’t burnout trying to help. First and foremost, see where you can cut back. In part, that means defining the elements of your role that are most essential and focusing on those. But it also means allowing yourself to admit that even some of those ‘essential’ functions make need to take a backseat for a while.

2. Communication to build trust. Honesty is hard and scary. But it’s absolutely essential, especially in a leadership position. Being frank with your team about where you're at and what you need is the only way to get the help you need. You may be surprised at how quickly others step in to pick up the slack. Alternatively, you may also empower others on your team to be more realistic about their OWN needs. And the sooner everyone on your team prioritizes stress care, the better you’ll all function as a whole.

  • Knowing when to move on from people who won’t change. You cannot force someone to change or apply what you teach them. Leading by example is the most effective way to create change, so when someone or something is draining your energy use the tools that you’ve learned from the Stabilize Loop and the Smash Loop to identify the roots of your challenge and take effective action.

Need support building resilience in your home and work life?

Resilience Care is the antidote for stress, overwhelm and burn out.

You’ve learned about The Stabilize Loop and The Human Machine, so you’ve got the building blocks to create a foundation for Resilience Care.

If you’re ready to dive deeper into Resilience Care to create a life and workplace that is more successful, enjoyable, and sustainable, we invite you to join the Grow Mighty Movement.

Bookmark this blog post or print it out to save for later because you will continue to face challenges and stressors on a daily basis. It’s not about avoiding the realities of life, but the more often and rapidly you can move through The Stabilze Loop the stronger your resilience will become.

As a member of the Grow Mighty Movement, you’ll join a community of change-makers who are doing the Resilience Care work, additional resources to guide you on your journey, and coaching to help you answer questions or dive deeper into the material.

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