Highlights from Resilience Week 1

This week’s tips have been focused around resilience. Sometimes, we’re able to manage life’s challenges with ease and grace. Other times, we may feel knocked down and unable to get up again.

Chumbawumba break (click HERE).

I hope these ideas will help as well as sparking your own.

What about your default (at the moment – we all go through phases of being more and less resilient depending on what’s happening in our lives as well as how resourceful we feel)?

a) When I think of rising to meet challenges, I think of Angeline Jolie in Tomb Raider and that little smile she’d get as monster robots and other obstacles arose. She trained her whole life (and is a fictional character) but sometimes, even remembering this fictional character’s smile helps me dig a bit deeper and imagine what rising to meet a challenge would look like in my very human real life. What memories of your own resilience (or fictional characters / famous people) inspire you?

b) When I feel like I’m shrinking, overwhelmed, I honour that to a degree but also aim to get moving. Stretching and building strength in yoga or with a swim – things that help me connect with my resourcefulness. Expansive yoga poses like Warrior can help (click HERE for a link to this and other yoga videos you might find helpful). If you’re feeling like shrinking in on yourself, while natural, it won’t help you face whatever challenge you’re facing. In contrast, expansive poses (Amy Cuddy’s research around Power Poses is great for anyone wanting to get the benefits without yoga), when held for two minutes or longer, change our physiology. We feel more confident and less stressed so we’re better able to access our resources and resilience.

c) Reaching out is not my default by a long shot. But I’m still feeling warm and tingly from the other week when I was so disappointed by my sale falling through at exchange – again (all, at time of writing, appears to be back on so woo hoo!) – that my resilience was tested big time. And in expressing my upset (sobbing), loved ones rallied and were amazing and even when things felt grim, I was able to connect with that inner strength more easily. Who, in your life, is a good person to talk to when you are not feeling very resilient? If no one springs to mind or you want additional support, therapy can be helpful (click HERE). I work online via secure video conferencing and telephone so we can potentially work together wherever you’re based.

d) You already have a whole host of strategies and resources you use to help yourself when you need a resilience boost. Would you like to share some here?

One of the things I love most about yoga is the increased resilience regular practice brings. By working with the nervous system, lifting it (going into sympathetic mode) with dynamic poses then lowering (parasympathetic mode) with restorative poses then lifting and lowering again, we boost our own heart rate variability and resilience. Life’s emotional challenges become much easier to deal with. We can also do this with breath practices.

You can access lots of videos to help you do this yourself at home HERE

If using the breath, the conscious / mindful calming breathing and Ujjayi followed by Kapalabhati then back to calming breath or Ujjayi will also benefit your heart rate variability and resilience.

If you’re not into yoga, you can do it with any exercise. Swim flat out (or run, or trampoline – whatever works for your personality and fitness levels) then REST.

Allow your system to come back to normal by paying attention to your heart rate and breath then, when you feel replenished, build up to more dynamic movement again. Initially, it might be running or walking for a few seconds then pausing or slowing significantly. Do what’s best for you (and if unused to exercise, your doctor can advise – this is about boosting heart health and resilience not overdoing anything).

Sometimes, when our resilience levels are high enough, we can, as Taylor Swift suggests, shake it off. We can laugh at the situation that’s trying us. We know we’ve been through worse and even if we’re not laughing now, will soon at least smile. Other times, while dancing or moving to get it out of our system can still be helpful, we can talk to a loved one or therapist. Sometimes, someone else can help us see our resilience when we can’t see it ourselves.

How do you talk to yourself when things go wrong? I mentioned this (click HERE) recent study in last week’s posts and blogs and have been encouraging clients and students to soothe their amygdalas (the alarm bell of the brain) by speaking as kindly to ourselves as we would a frightened toddler or kitten. By doing this, the more sophisticated prefrontal cortex gets back on board more quickly and we’re able to connect with our resourcefulness, make better decisions and even relate better to others.

If I were to choose just one self-care tool for resilience, it would be this. Shift that critical inner voice to a loving one – and while you work on this, be KIND to yourself rather than beating yourself up for having a strong inner critic.

There’s something about asking ourselves this kind of question, even if we struggle, in the moment, to understand any silver lining scenario, that can shift everything. What comes up for you?

You can access more tools and self care tips for resilience HERE

Big love,

Eve Menezes Cunningham self care coach therapist supervisor

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