When you think about being resilient, how do you imagine that to be? Do you see yourself stoically bouncing from one stressor to the next, being able to grit your teeth and wade through the tough stuff? Perhaps you imagine yourself as very wealthy and able to withstand adversity with financial ability? These aspects of managing difficulties are all very well and good but there is a chance you are living in a stressed state for much of the time, and though you may be able to stay on track you may not be feeling that great. Your body/mind system may be on the verge of burnout and sadly you may not know this until you buckle.
For me, resilience has everything to do with energy. It is about how energetic we feel, our ability to take on our days with enthusiasm, and how quickly we can get back to an energised state after a knock from life. Do you have the ability and the capacity to create sufficient energy to feel good, to enjoy life and to accomplish what you want? Read on…
Resilience in a Nutshell
Focus on developing daily routines that build energy rather than deplete. We often feel we simply don’t have the time to do the basics well, but honestly by doing them well we often end up having more time available due to thinking better, doing things faster and having enough energy to do more with our days. A good daily and nightly routine enables us not only to manage difficulty, but to recover quickly from a stressed state to a state that is physiologically relaxed yet has enough energy to feel positive, enthusiastic and strong. Your calendar should reflect these values in order for you to feel in control, to think at your best, and know that no matter what happens, you have the ability to create the energy needed to pull yourself back to a sense of emotional and mental wellness.
Getting More than a Good Night’s Rest
Do you know that your brain is incredibly active while you are sleeping? Your brain is doing all kinds of clever things such as getting rid of toxins, storing information into memory, controlling various hormones that contribute to overall physical and mental well-being, ensuring good brain function and making cytokines that support a strong immune system – to mention just a few! There is so much to learn about good sleep habits in terms of both our sleep hygiene as well as sleep architecture.
Learning how to ensure a good night’s rest is one of the best things you can do to ensure you live your best day when you wake up!
Breathing to Thrive rather than to Stay Alive
Luckily for us, we are designed magnificently. Basic functions such as breathing happen automatically. Imagine if you had to think about each inhale and exhale! The catch however is that even though our breathing is automatic it is often not optimal. Stressful living and circumstances cause us to breathe faster and shallower, which in turn exacerbates our levels of stress. Massive amounts of incoming information (a fairly addictive stimulant) along with poor lifestyles result in a viscous cycle of stressful breathing, unconscious living and increasing health issues.
The rhythm, rate and ratio of our breath is critical. Slight changes in these result in a very different experiences on all levels. Our breath rate is deeply connected to the functioning of our nervous system, influencing our emotional state, our physical wellness and our very sense of being! Learning to be aware of our breath and to breathe intelligently is simply put, life-changing. Science has isolated breath awareness and slow breathing as a huge common factor that experienced meditators, and people with high levels of resilience, mental strength and inner joy share.
Becoming aware of our breath is becoming aware of life. There is a good reason why many meditative practices focus on breathing. Our brains and bodies are hardwired and designed to go into a relaxed physiological state as a result of simply paying attention to breath.
The Route to Resilience: Understanding the Basics
People have an energetic set-point. This is largely responsible for how great or bad we feel, and how well we cope with and recover from adversity. When life happens – both positive and negative – it doesn’t take long for us to return to set-point. Your set-point is determined more by how you think and what your daily habits are than anything else. Your genes are also involved, but we are learning that how we think and behave affects our genes over time.
Very importantly, we need to be able to create balance and energy reserves in our lives. This is how we re-set our energetic set-point, or you could even call it your happiness set-point. This will enable us to tip back on track should something happen to cause sufficient stress to temporarily deplete us. The best life is a life that is fuelled with enough energy. When our bodies, minds and emotions are well nourished, we create energy. This in turn enables us to think clearly, manage our emotions, and have an intrinsic sense of safety. Bad habits deplete energy, and this means we can’t restore what we lose. This is why people end up burnt-out, depressed and overwhelmed. In order to continue creating the energy we need to live and recover well in adversity we need to do the basics well – eat, breathe and sleep. If you simply breathe intelligently, keep yourself nourished, and get a good nights’ sleep your life will completely transform. Doing the basics better is the start of resilience – it’s the way there!
Nourishing Body, Mind and Soul
Nourishment is more than just the food we consume, it is what we consume with all our senses. We deplete ourselves when we eat food that does not create but rather gobbles energy. We also deplete ourselves when we over-indulge on social media, and under-indulge in nature, music, beauty and touch. We should take in what we need to build our energy to ensure quality of life, resilience and good health generally. When we take in more of what depletes than energises, we are going to be left with a zero sum in the energy account which results in declining health, anxiety and stress. We also risk ending up potentially disconnected from nurturing relationships when we give too much time to social media and virtual relating.
About the author: Lily Breuning-Ellis is an Executive Coach at CoachMatching and a breathe and resilience specialist.