The Fifth Annual InDependent Wellness Summit presented by the USO is BACK!
The InDependent Wellness Summit is our annual, online event for all military and first responder spouses – past, present, and future. Learn more about the program here.
And as usual, the incredible InDependent team led it off last week with a bang. Day 1’s interviewees covered two topics that are near and dear to my heart: grit and rest. Want to listen to the interviews? You have until March 14th to register for FREE General Admission and March 15th to listen to them all.
“Grit is the combination of passion and perseverance for long-term goals.” – Dr. Angela Duckworth
Leading us off was Dr. Angela Duckworth, who is most well-known for her book, Grit. It’s likely you’ve seen it sitting on a book table in the airport or featured in your Amazon Prime monthly book round-up. Duckworth has done so much more with her life than write a book on grit (check out the interview!), which makes her one of the best people to speak on the topic.
Grit — it’s a word I love saying, and it’s a word I love using to describe people who are absolutely dominating a challenging time in their lives. If you’re like me, you may have a slightly varied definition of this sandpaper-y word from others. Luckily, Duckworth shared her definition with listeners from the beginning: “Grit is the combination of passion and perseverance for long-term goals.”
Even if you’ve never heard this definition of the word before, doesn’t this one just feel right?
While this definition is important, Dr. Duckworth goes on to share a key aspect about grit that relieved me of several insecurities I held about being able to be gritty: “It’s not correlated with talent or innate intelligence.” What a relief! If you’re like me, when you heard this statement, you breathed a sigh of relief. While I’m good at several things in my life, I’m not particularly talented at any of them. I’ve had to work hard to be good at my pursuits. And yes, I graduated from high school and college with great marks, but again, I worked hard in school, and I continue to push myself to learn more.
This should give heart to all of us because in her research Dr. Duckworth has discovered that folks who are really good at what they do all share the common denominator of grit. They’ve discovered how to align their passions with the perseverance needed to reach their highest potential in that area of their life. And guess what? This is something all of us can do.
Dr. Duckworth went on to distinguish that grit is part of perseverance and is distinct from resilience. Whether we’re in the military community or not, “resilience” has reached buzzword status and is something nearly all of us have begun to actively think about. But resilience is the type of perseverance we need when we face major trauma (moving, prolonged stress, sexual abuse, car accident, etc.) Grit, in contrast, is the daily perseverance we need in order to continue pursuing our goals. Just like resilience, it’s true some of us are grittier than others. But don’t worry if you don’t feel very gritty! It’s something you can actively work on.
“Whether we’re in the military community or not, “resilience” has reached buzzword status … ”
I don’t know about you, but I’m already feeling grittier from this conversation alone! While grit is an important aspect of living our lives to the fullest potential, we also need something equally important: rest. Dr. Stephanie Brooks Holliday shared with us some important insights on the thing we spend nearly a third of our life doing: sleeping. As Dr. Holliday shared at the beginning of her interview, “[Sleep] impacts so many areas of our lives and I think we take that for granted on a day-to-day basis.”
While many people may feel as though they get great sleep, I bet if they stopped to really consider their pre-sleep routine, their bedroom, and how much sleep they actually get, they would discover their sleep hygiene isn’t as great as they initially thought. Sleep isn’t just an abstract concept that we know in the back of our minds is “good” for us; people who get poor sleep are at increased risk for a host of medical concerns that include anxiety, depression, substance abuse, weight gain, coronary heart disease, and diabetes, just to name a few. Sleep is an essential behavior that restores our body and mind every day. Yet it’s one of our daily tasks that is easy to shove to the end of our list of priorities.
If we reference Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs, we will see the base of the pyramid is made up of three things: food, shelter, and sleep. Without adequate sleep, it’s hard for us to physically and mentally function or feel emotionally safe. If we start to see seemingly random symptoms start to crop up in our lives – drop in performance, trouble concentrating, irritability, mood-related issues, etc. – we should stop and ask ourselves, “Am I getting enough sleep?”
But how do we define “good sleep?” According to Dr. Holliday, it’s at least seven hours of sleep a night. And, she assures us, you are not one of those who “need less sleep.” If you think you do well with only four to five hours of sleep per night, for example, what that actually means is you’ve learned to adapt and get by with less sleep. That doesn’t actually mean you only need that amount of sleep!
“[Sleep] impacts so many areas of our lives and I think we take that for granted on a day-to-day basis.” – Dr. Stephanie Holliday
I loved hearing this straight from a RAND researcher’s mouth because I know countless people in my life who tout only getting four to five hours of sleep a night. They often share this with me with pride in their voice. But as a person who loves sleep, the only thing I hear when they share this information is that they’re not prioritizing their well-being. It’s true we all need more than a couple of hours of sleep per night and that’s a good thing!
My favorite part of the interview, however, was when Dr. Holliday discussed the topic of sleeping with a partner. Most of us attending this summit share a bed with a partner, which means we sleep next to another human who, guess what, may not have the exact same sleep patterns and requirements as we do. And yet, there is strong societal pressure to get into the same bed every night and sleep in the same conditions as your partner because that means your relationship is healthy.
Guess what’s not healthy? Being sleep-deprived. Dr. Holliday spells it out like this: if you find you and your partner have different sleep needs, then have a discussion about how you can 1) minimize disruptions to one another’s sleep and 2) find a routine that works best for your relationship that will allow you to optimize your sleep. And sometimes that means sleeping in different beds. *Gasp!*
“We all know sleeping in different beds is a sign of trouble in a relationship. Or is it?”
We all know sleeping in different beds is a sign of trouble in a relationship. Or is it? Actually, if you and your partner make the decision together to sleep in different beds because it allows both of you to get the sleep you need, then there’s nothing wrong with that! In fact, that’s a healthy choice that will support your overall wellness long-term. So don’t let the perceived scariness of separate sleeping quarters prevent you and your partner from getting good sleep. Of course, sleeping in the same bed is perfectly fine as well. Objectively, we get slightly poorer sleep when sharing a bed with another person but it feels like we get better sleep because we are sharing our bed with another person.
If you’re like me, you loved the Strength in Grit and Strength in Rest interviews and are excited to listen to them the whole way through! I barely touched the surface of what they discussed, and you don’t want to miss a thing. Don’t forget to register, if you haven’t already. General Admission is FREE and you have until March 15th to listen to the interviews (March 14th to register). Or, you can upgrade for 50% off to the All-Access Pass and enjoy the interviews for life.
Grit: The Power of Passion and Perseverance By Duckworth, Angela
Strength in Grit and Strength in Purpose were generously sponsored by the USO. The USO offers a variety of programs for military spouses around the world to get connected, feel empowered and have fun! They host Coffee Connections, in person and online, where you can meet new friends and learn about military spouse life and your community. Their networking events and Pathfinder program provide resources and opportunities to assist with transitions and professional growth. And you can’t miss out on the Discovering Your Spark workshops, run by Brittany Boccher, the 2017 Armed Forces Insurance Military Spouse of the Year, which focus on finding your passion and purpose! Learn more at uso.org/militaryspouse or email email@example.com for more information.
(Purchases using the links in the post will help InDependent cover administrative costs for our programs at no extra cost to you!)
Alexis Miller is the Director of Communications for Warriors at Ease, a 501(c)(3) non-profit dedicated to bringing yoga and meditation to the military community through a network of trained professionals and through free programs that support them in their health and healing. She’s also the writer behind the blog Wife in the Wild Blue Yonder, where she shares her travel and military life experiences with readers. Lastly, Alexis is a certified yoga instructor and specializes in bringing yoga and meditation to the Yokota Air Base community. When Alexis isn’t busy working, you can find her doing yoga, rock climbing, fly fishing, or traveling.
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