4 tips to stay resilient during a government shutdown
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4 tips to stay resilient during a government shutdown

January 17, 2024

During the 35-day government shutdown in 2018-2019, the Partnership hosted a Facebook Live with Virginia Hill, a senior executive coach and facilitator at the Partnership’s Public Service Leadership Institute, and Mika Cross, a strategic advisor to federal leaders on employee engagement. Resilience, they emphasized, is a crucial skill that enables federal employees to navigate adverse situations and challenges, including organizational disruptions like government shutdowns. 

With the threat of another shutdown looming, we found it valuable to share key insights from that discussion. Below are three keys to building resilience identified by Cross and Hill, drawing on Diane Coutou’s “How Resilience Works.” These tips provide a roadmap for public servants to not only endure a government shutdown, but to emerge from it stronger than before. 

1. Accept reality  

A key ingredient to resilience is an unwavering acceptance of reality. Avoiding the trap of complaining about a situation and focusing on your current reality can help you navigate the shutdown effectively. During this time, you can reflect on your current skill set and work on developing new and existing skills to help you be more versatile in your career field.  

2. Believe that life is meaningful  

Resilience is different than being optimistic. Being resilient means believing every situation offers a valuable lesson to be learned, even in the toughest of times. Government shutdowns can be challenging, but they also present opportunities for personal growth and learning. If you are furloughed, engaging with your local community, volunteering or exploring ways to work with youth are all ways to stay active and continue to make a difference. 

3. Master the ability to improvise  

During difficult times, the ability to improvise is crucial. Instead of being paralyzed by fear and negativity, focus on what you can control and adapt to changing circumstances. Take advantage of the downtime to tackle practical tasks that are long overdue on your to-do list. This approach will allow you to remain productive during the shutdown and enhance your sense of accomplishment.  

4. Practice mindfulness or self-care every day  

Practicing mindfulness or engaging in a self-care activity every day also helps maintain resiliency. Mindfulness exercises include meditation, yoga, breathing exercises and outdoor walks. These activities can help you focus on the present and lower stress levels during the shutdown.  

Visit our webpage for everything you need to know during a government shutdown. 

Isalys De La Rosa is a former intern on the Partnership’s Communications team.

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