5 Essential Practices to Become Resilient

Do you believe that “what doesn’t kill you makes you stronger?” If not, you should. Life knocks you down again and again. We lose loved ones, lose jobs, get our hearts broken, and our hopes get dashed. How can you overcome life’s challenges? By developing resilience.

What is resilience?

Resilience is the ability to maintain your emotional balance and physical wellbeing when dealing with stressful life circumstances. In other words, it is your ability to get back up when you’ve been knocked down.

Why Being Resilient?

Being resilient may seem like a nice trait to have, but not a must-have; however, did you know that being resilient could not only improve your health, but save your life as well?

In a study looking at patients with chronic pain, those who were resilient to the impact of chronic pain were 25% less likely to die within 10 years than those who were not resilient. Resilience boosts your immunity and this increased immunity has even been shown to lead to less mortality in bone marrow transplant patients.

Besides this, resilience can help you in your day to day life. For instance, if you are more resilient, you are less likely to miss work because of illness. You are also less likely to engage in risky behaviours such as drinking too much alcohol, smoking, and using drugs.

Being resilient even helps you age better and have an increased sense of wellbeing. Now, we all have to get older, but who doesn’t want to age better and thrive in old age.? Focus on your “healthspan,” how many years your are healthy, instead of your lifespan.

The good news about resilience is that it is not a static personality or character trait. You can learn it. Learn more about the 5 infallible practices to become resilient.

Practice Reframing

How do you reframe what happens to you? Quite simply, by relabeling your present situation or changing the way you think about any challenge. Ask yourself: “Is the glass half full or half empty?” The situation or circumstance is static. However, the way you view and interpret it is dynamic. You can reframe your perspectives at any time point. And you should.

Start by reframing stressful situations or unexplained anxiety. Instead of thinking about negative effects in your life, think of it as improving the quality of your life by providing you opportunities to learn and improve. Research shows that those who do this have better physical and emotional wellbeing than those who don’t.

So, instead of seeing stress and anxiety as overwhelming, think of it as a valuable lesson in life. Here are 3 simple ways to change your mindset when confronting stress and anxiety.

First, find the “why.” For instance, if you took a job that is now causing you stress, think about why you took the job in the first place. Say, you took your job just for the money. Maybe you realize that another lower-paying job could beef up your resume and would have been a better choice. By focusing on the why, you take a high-level perspective and become resilient by resisting immediate gratification.

Second, focus on the “how.” How will this stressor help you grow? Perhaps, this lower-paying job will teach you skills that you can use to become an entrepreneur, be your own boss and live life on your own terms. By imagining a brighter future, you can build your resilience.

Lastly, move from a subjective to an objective view of the stressor to “change your perspective.” Once you know the why and how, focus on identifying the opportunities posed by the stressful situation. You are now transforming your frame of mind and will feel an improvement of your mental and emotional state.

Practice Visualization

People who are resilient realize that situations which may feel overwhelming right now, may not impact them much in the long run. One way to maintain a long-term perspective is to visualize yourself as just a tiny element in the universe, realizing how unimportant you really are.

The stoic Aurelius did this by reflecting on how vast the universe was, and thought about infinite time in his meditations. By doing this, he was able to put his life into perspective. When you don’t take yourself so seriously, your present worries pale in comparison, and you don’t feel like your mess-ups are the end of the world. This helps you power on.

Practice Mindfulness

Mindfulness has been shown to increase resilience. When you are under stress, the first thing you need is to calm your mind. When you are under stress, your mind can go haywire. The skeletons of the past and the ghosts of the future start to take over your thinking patterns. Circular and repetitive thoughts overwhelm your mind and interfere with clear judgement when you most need it.

Practicing mindfulness meditation or mindful framing lowers this rumination process. And the good news is that the more you practice, the more your brain circuitry changes. This is called neuroplasticity, anatomically imprinting your resilience into your brain to handle future stressful events.

And you don’t have to engage in a long-winded 60-minute practice every day. Just 10 minutes dedicated regularly to your favorite practice can reap benefits. Just do it.

Practice Awareness

In today’s pursuit of happiness, we are told to ignore or minimize negative emotions. It’s easy to distract our mind with all kinds of tricks like excessive eating or drinking. However, those who are resilient have learnt that having negative emotions is okay. So, they don’t suppress them or run away from them. Instead they embrace negative emotions as teachable moments.

This is how to handle negative emotions. Start by acknowledging your emotional state. Second, attach a label to the emotion, even if it is an unflattering emotion, for instance envy. Lastly, establish a positive framework around that emotion. For instance, if you are envious about someone else, the envy may reflect a sense of inferiority about yourself. Your life is telling you that you are missing something. If this is the case, make plans to get ahead and feel confident. Be specific. Take action.

Practice Empathy

No man or woman is an island. We all need people to hold us up when we are facing stressful situations. The more deep and meaningful relationships you have at work and home, the more resilient you will be. Don’t have a good support network now? Look around you, be truly empathetic. Build or reinforce relationships with your family, at work and your social network. Volunteer, take evening classes, join community and/or faith groups. By aligning yourself with others, you will have a tribe that you can rely on to bolster your strength for those difficult times.

 

We all face tough situations. Whether we rise from the ashes, or burn with the embers, depends on how resilient we are. Build those muscles of resilience so that you are better able to handle what life throws your way.

 

4 Natural Boosters of Dopamine, the Elixir of our Life

 

 

We may not even realize it, but dopamine rules the roost when it comes to our sense of wellbeing. How is one neurotransmitter so crucial to the feeling of joy?

When you first wake up in the morning, and you smell that fresh pot of coffee brewing, you probably feel excitement. This anticipation is dopamine.

If you receive a raise at work, your sense of accomplishment will most likely be accompanied by a set of pleasant psychological and physical sensations – that’s dopamine.

When you enjoy your favorite music, laughing with friends, or experience an immense rush of adrenaline while playing a sport, dopamine is kicking in.

Dopamine is a neurotransmitter that sends signals between neurons and is a precursor of adrenaline. It plays an important role in a range of brain and body functions that are critical for your success, including motivation, memory, attention, focus, learning, creativity, and mood. When we experience the positive effects of dopamine, we feel well, excited and energized.

However, if we experience low levels of dopamine, we can become fatigued, apathetic and can suffer from addiction. poor memory, disrupted sleep, and even Parkinson’s disease.

 

What is the link between dopamine and addiction?

In the 1950s, scientists designed an experiment where they placed electrodes along the dopamine pathway in the brain of rats. When the rats entered into a particular corner of their cages, they received an electric shock. The discomfort of the shock therapy led scientists to believe that the rats would avoid entering the area where the shock occurred – but just the opposite happened.

Rather than avoiding the shock, the rats craved the dopamine so severely that they continued going back to experience the shock up to 700 times in one hour.

This compulsive behavior can be seen in people, too. Take substance abuse or gambling for example. Doing anything in excess may not feel good after the fact, but the dopamine rush can be so intense that a person will crave for more.

Quick dopamine fixes are tempting and appear everywhere in our modern world. Some examples for sources of a dopamine rush include caffeine, alcohol, video games, social media addiction, impulsive eating, mindless working or compulsive shopping.

To achieve mental, emotional and physical wellbeing, we should boost our dopamine in healthy and balanced ways that nourish our sense of self-worth and reinforce our connections with others.

 

Genuine Gratitude

Have you ever felt that warm tingling sensation of love and compassion take over when you feel gratitude for someone or something happening in your life?

Being grateful for all of the blessings you have in your life is a simple, inexpensive and practical way to enhance your dopamine levels. It also works to keep your life in perspective when times get tough.

One way to easily maintain a momentum of appreciation is to keep a daily gratitude journal. Remember, when difficult storms arrive, and you have troubles finding things to appreciate, it’s okay to be grateful for simple pleasures like a snuggle with a pet or a smile from a stranger.

 

Everyday Mindfulness

Focusing on the present moment and practicing self-reflection offer us enormous amounts of benefits. When we pay attention to the environment, calm our thoughts and center ourselves, we experience a relaxed state-of-mind, so that we can fully relax and recharge.

Not only does the practice of mindful framing and mindfulness help us to let go of stress, but studies have shown the potential to increase the release of dopamine.

It can be tempting to reach for a junkie TV show to distract yourself from daily problems instead of retreating into pondering and reflecting about our ideas and experiences. In the long run, embracing a ritual of self-reflection will increase your dopamine levels in a positive, more profound way.

 

Regular Exercise

There’s no need to sign yourself up for a spin class that you are going to dread if spinning isn’t your thing. But finding an outlet to exercise that you genuinely enjoy can increase your dopamine and boost your physical wellbeing.

Whether you take up martial arts, dance or play fetch with your dog, your mind and body will thank you. Dopamine is released when you get your heart pumping.

For an extra rush of healthy dopamine, combine your activity with reaching a goal (such as increasing steadily you daily steps).

Exercise brings many other fantastic side effects into your life. Perhaps you lose a couple of pounds, look healthier and meet new like-minded friends during your activity.

 

Healthy Eating

White sugar and fast food can be highly tempting if you desire a surge in energy. But the mood-elevating spike caused by these foods is short-lived and often comes with an energy crash.

Our earth is abundant with fresh fruits, veggies and fiber for us to indulge in daily. And did you know that a healthy gut seems to be directly related to balanced dopamine levels?

Some foods that can support your dopamine levels are apples, bananas, beets, chicken, eggs and cheese. So start your day with a delicious cheesy omelet or fresh fruit salad to elevate your mood early on.

 

Life is dynamic, a steady source of experiences and ideas, and dopamine mobilizes your brain and body to be motivated, creative and achieve peak performance. Don’t waste this precious elixir by disrupting the fine-tuned alchemy of neurotransmitters and hormones. Be gentle with yourself and let the natural processes in your organism take over without ‘artificial sweeteners.’