We've all had the experience of a dark moment in our lives. Times where the sun didn't shine, the rain fell in sheets along with our tears, and we wondered how we could possibly bounce back from it all. Yet, we do bounce back and move on -- some of us more easily than others.
Good news! You can learn to be more resilient.
I was invited to a fundraiser for women in mental health last month. The speaker was a well-respected psychiatrist of 20 years and associate chief of psychiatry for our local mental health facility. She gave a moving talk on resilience, highlighting all of the scientific research behind it, and I did an inner happy dance for the confirmation it gave me that I have been on the right track for the last few years as I spoke about resilience. Dr. Alison Freeland covered three of my four essential components to strengthening our bounce-back muscles (my fourth being rooted in greater purpose or spirituality), but most importantly she suggested that indeed resilience can be nurtured and enhanced.
Why is resilience so important to me -- a woman on a crusade to empower others into self-care? Because resilience is a state of being at choice, and being at choice means you have the power to direct your life as you see fit. Any time a woman is in the perspective of being a victim of her circumstances and is paralyzed by a diagnosis, or a toxic relationship or a dead end job, she is essentially giving up her power. By increasing our resilience, we can all become stronger to make the difficult choices and orchestrate the lives we want and love.
Practice these daily and watch your resilience blossom:
Mindfulness is not just a buzzword to be bounced around, there's actually a large body of science that supports its benefits. Mindfulness also doesn't necessarily mean you need to incorporate a daily morning and evening hour-long meditation into your already over-scheduled life. Small things like taking a deep breath every time you swipe your smart phone to unlock it, or taking a moment to feel the water temperature and soap texture or smell the scent of the soap as you wash your hands, those are mindfulness moments. Being in the present moment is a mental workout so get in a good three sets of 10 reps throughout the day. And by all means, learn to meditate if you can fit that in too.
Healthy Body Habits
According to the World Health Organization a healthy dose of exercise is considered 150 minutes weekly of moderate intensity, which is slightly elevated heart rate that also makes you a bit short of breath. This is really not a lot of walking, running, biking or dancing. (Note this is not the amount of exercise required for weight loss. We'd do ourselves a huge favor to separate exercise for health and exercise for weight loss in our minds.) As for nutrition, in my opinion, if you are focused on getting the fiber intake recommended by the Institute of Medicine (Women need 25 grams of fiber per day, and men need 38 grams per day) you would be hard pressed to be short on any other macro or micro nutrient required for health, and you'd probably crowd out all the junk food from your diet as well.
Reach-out to Your Community
Community support is what human beings thrive on. We are meant to live in tribes, families, and groups with common interest. When we are in our states of despair we often isolate ourselves, which in turn just makes matters worse. Find a trusted few you feel comfortable being vulnerable with and have them be your allies in times of need. Quiet the voice in your head that shames you for needing help, and reach-out.
Do for others
The quickest way out of a funk is to realize that someone somewhere has it worse than you. Something as simple as writing a note to a person in need, or as complex as volunteering or starting a non-profit, can empower us all. For some people, but not all, this greater purpose and fulfillment is also found in a spiritual practice and a sense of unity with humanity on an energetic or vibrational level. It is important thought that when you are doing for others that it's from a place of genuine love and caring and not from a place of guilt or obligation. Resentment doesn't build resilience, but feeling fulfilled and having a sense of purpose does.
What other practices have you found increase your ability to bounce back from obstacles that knock you down? Leave me a comment below and we can all grow more resilient together.