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Building Resiliency with Monica Bodurka

Monica's insight is a timely reminder for us to take care of ourselves amidst the COVID pandemic. To support us through this difficult time, Monica and her team at the Leadership Wellness Group have generously offered an 80% discount for her signature program Resilient by Design. Simply enter the promo code GOODPARTNERSHIP on the checkout page to access this amazing discount.

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Can you share with us how you understand resilience?

Resilience is not about being tough and holding in or burying one’s emotion.

Resilience is about bouncing back from things that happen in life. When you think of shocks in a car, the bumps are there on the road, right? What we're doing is we're cultivating strength in ourselves to be able to absorb these shocks. Great research has shown that resilience is not an innate trait, but rather something we can all develop. We develop resilience not by burying our emotion or plowing through it, but actually through wellness habits.

In the nonprofit sector, wellness is often the first thing we let go of when we get busy. How can we build wellness from the ground up, and what is it so important?

We live in a world with 24-hour, constant stimulation. People are overwhelmed all the time, and many of us have lost touch with our feelings, values, and purpose. Every so often, we have a breakdown or we burn out. People who are very resilient are really good at looking after themselves. In our evidence-based program, we have identified three important components of resilience: physical mastery, self-awareness, and intentional orientation.

Physical mastery includes sleeping well and eating consciously. Organizations are looking for people who are innovative and optimistic and creative and focused and calm, and who are able to make good decisions. When we're frazzled, we can't do that. So when we feel well, our whole body clams down. When we look at our nervous system, we have the parasympathetic nervous system and this and this sympathetic. The sympathetic is our fight or flight, and the parasympathetic is our rest and digest. It's also where we're creative or we're innovative. We're trying to tap into that parasympathetic system where we're calm and relaxed and able to perform better. So this is what we're talking about with resilience is we're moving away from surviving to thriving.

Self-awareness is about mindfulness, right? It's about being aware of how we're feeling, how we're showing up, and even knowing who we want to be. This is the values piece, the congruence. Mindfulness plays a big part in our lives, even as we transition from one meeting to another, for example, or from home to work, the self-awareness, the positive psychology, right and optimistic mindset. We can cultivate that. One of the techniques we can use is boundary setting, right? So many of us are saying yes to everything, and our lists of to-do are massive. How do we actually streamline prioritize this comes back to values, and put boundaries around what is the most important.

Finally, intentional orientation is all about being intentional and taking intentional action. Again, you'll notice it's not about becoming tougher, it's becoming self-aware, and creating behaviour changes through daily habits.

What are some habits that we can form to get us the right track to build resilience?

We choose to become resilient by building ourselves up. We start off with a module on intentional living. First, let's take back our sleep. One of the big things we say is no blue light at night. If you absolutely must be on your computer, if you must be on your phone, then we suggest using I have really funny looking blue light blocking glasses that I bought on Amazon. Blue light during the day is fine. But at night What happens is it reduces your melatonin and Melatonin is one of the hormones that help you sleep. So it's really really important to have high melatonin levels.

One of the very good nighttime practices is journaling and dumping anything you've got in your brain. Doing any kind of mind dump is almost like saying: I will deal with this tomorrow. My morning routine starts the night before. I write down my top priorities for the next day before I go to sleep, so that I don’t need to worry about that in the morning.

Any kind of physical movement that suits your need is powerful. For me, my yoga meditation is critical, but for someone else they might prefer a jog or whatever that works. Everything is different.

Finally, have an accountability buddy for your habit, and find a community of like-minded people. All of these wellness practices have a compound effect. Doing it once is not going to work. Ideally, you cultivate small daily habits, and they compound over time to really supercharge you and enable you to make better decisions and show up better. When I work with an organization where everyone is working on their resilience and enhancing their habit, it is just so much more powerful because of the constant reinforcement and collective accountability.

Let's dig a bit deeper in self-awareness. How can we be present and be self-aware when things are crazy and busy?

Self-awareness is about creating a little bit of silence in our lives to know how we're doing, how we're feeling, and how we're showing up. A lot of the time, we fill our time even when we don't need to be busy. Self-awareness and mindfulness is about bringing the mind back to the present.

For example, whenever we transition from one meeting to another, it takes two seconds to breathe and remember in those two seconds, who I want to be in that meeting. That is mindfulness. I can assure you by pausing to find that presence, your meeting is going to be more powerful. This is about showing up intentionally, and knowing your intention is going to make you more resilient, productive, focused, creative.

Mindful breathing is another powerful exercise whenever we feel stressed and frazzled. If we can take a couple of seconds to feel our breath in and out, and hold the breath for a moment of silence, we bring our mind back to the present. This is powerful because it orients our mind to respond, not react. When something triggers you, and you take a deep and mindful breath, you are sending a signal to your nervous system and your body to respond as opposed to reacting from that stressful part of your brain. When we are stressed, our executive function and prefrontal cortex are basically shut off. So by taking that breath, we are tapping into the executive function and prefrontal cortex, so we can respond thoughtfully, as opposed to reacting with your reptilian brain.

I love your passion for this topic. Thank you for giving us very specific tools on how we can control, react, and show up.

To be our best selves and show up and do our best work, we absolutely need to be in the physical, mental, emotional state to do that. We need a strategic and an operating plan for our own bodies, and it starts with self-care. We can't do our best work when we're falling apart. And again, the bumps in the road will be there. But what we're talking about is building ourselves up so that we can absorb them and sort of glide over them gracefully. Success is nothing more than a few simple disciplines practiced every single day.

Resources from this Episode

The Good Partnership


Compound Effect

Monica’s website



The Small Nonprofit is produced by Eloisa Jane Mariano