By Laural Miller, My Gut Instinct Board member
Stress wreaks havoc in us. This happens whether we physically feel stressed or not. When our body is triggered and the flight or fight mode is activated, no matter how big or small the stressor; our bodies can be set on fire. Now, not all stress is bad. However, all stress has its effects. When I say the word stress to people, I get a huge overwhelming body sigh. Everyone feels it, knows it and are yearning for solutions. We really need to look at stress management from a whole new perspective. Although just about anything is better than doing nothing, I encourage you to look at it from a much more holistic approach. After all, the world is not going to ease up on us anytime soon.
Often times, stress is when we feel threatened in some way. After all, our bodies have not developed much further from the old paradigm where we had to run from animals in the wild. Even though we do not have those types of threats today, our bodies’ perceived threat of even the smallest stress can cause our bodies to think we are in survival mode.
There are so many different areas of our life in which can cause us stress. Our health can be in jeopardy, you may be in a fight with a family member, you may feel unfulfilled at your workplace or your finances might be in a bit of a disarray. We are human, and these are all very normal. The last thing we want to strive for is perfection in any or all of these areas. This pursuit of perfection will do nothing more than add a heaping serving of stress to the mix of life. Instead, we need to add in practices that continuously focus on what may be going well amidst the challenges.
Our bodies have this internal battery system that builds our personal resilience. Personal resilience is the antidote to stress and is the key to managing it. This is where we need to aim our focus. We only have so much energy from our battery on a daily basis and the intentional focus we give this expenditure makes all of the difference. If our battery is full, small threats will not phase us. However, if we are constantly running on a low charge, everything will affect us. The key is to understand your bodies warning signals.
“It’s easy to forget that stress is one of your body’s warning signals that tells you something is out of whack. If you ignore those signals, especially your emotions, you could become so accustomed to the stimulation of stress, ongoing tension and strain that stress cans tart to seem normal. When a lot of people in a particular environment are stressed, they can create a climate that makes it more difficult for any one person to see his or her stress clearly. When you have a whole culture pushing high performance, sometimes people don’t want to admit it or address it.” – Henry J Kahn, M.D.
There are four primary domains of resilience: physical, emotional, mental and spiritual. Each of these four domains affect each other and it is very important that you pay attention to proactively build your resilience in all of them. Physical resilience is your physical flexibility, endurance and strength. Your mental resilience is built upon being able to hold your attention, your ability to focus and your mental flexibility. A healthy emotional resilience is your ability to focus on the positive more than the negative. It also gives you flexibility with your emotions. A more emotionally resilient person is able to recognize, understand and communicate their own emotions. The fourth domain is spiritual resilience and comes from your tolerance of others’ values and beliefs, your commitment to your personal values and your spiritual flexibility. It is important to understand that all four of these domains overlap and can affect each other.
The area in which most of us tend to waste a lot of unnecessary energy and deplete our battery is in the emotional domain.
There are primary and secondary emotions in the world of feelings. Primary emotions may be easier to recognize and come at us in a much larger way. Secondary feelings can trickle in, build up or leak out of us slowly. A great example is anger and resentment. Anger can hit us in an instant. We recognize anger easily and in most cases are able to understand easily why we are angry. Resentment is a more subtle and slow buildup of grime in your oil tank. Although you may feel it from time to time, it is more of a silent drain on our resilience. There are so many examples as to how our emotional domain of resiliency can affect our well-being.
We may naturally be more resilient in one domain over the others. A great example of someone who may have a harder time in the emotional domain is someone who experienced trauma at some point in their life. Trauma can steal our ability to rationalize our emotions, find our emotions valuable, recognize how we are feeling, or communicate how we are feeling. If you have lost the ability to recognize and name emotions you will struggle in this domain. If you struggle in this domain, it will affect your resilience in all of the other three domains.
The first key to building resilience is becoming aware of how to do so. You must also become aware of where you may stand in all of these four domains. When we can recognize where our leaks are coming from, we can start a plan to patch the holes. Once we recognize and are aware of where our drain maybe coming from, we can then strategize how to prepare for, reset ourselves and sustain afterward.
The 3 steps of resilience building are:
- Prep to set the tone for the day and to be more composed before upcoming stressful events, or even a regular routine such as going to work.
- Shift and reset as soon as possible after the stress reaction or challenging situation by shifting into a more positive state to minimize energy drains. Shift and reset again before resting or going to bed to get the maximum benefits from sleep.
- Sustain your resilience throughout the day by establishing regular practices to refresh your composure between activities.
The tips above are a part of a wonderful technique called Heart Math. As a certified coach in this personal resilience building tool, I am qualified to work one on one with clients to build their personal plan. Generally, this program is a partnership between the client and coach that will help the client dissect their life and strategize plans to build resiliency. It is time we stop thinking about eliminating stress because our lifestyles and society are not affording us the ability to live a stress free life. Instead we have to shift our focus to building the personal resilience necessary to handle the stressors without losing ourselves in the process.
Laural Miller is a board member with My Gut Instinct and a professionally-certified life and leadership coach who specializes in helping clients see the full-picture in their life. Helping others dig deep and grow to their full potential is one of her biggest passions. She holds certifications in leadership, stress management, energy leadership, Reiki, and is pursuing her professional organizer certification. There are various ways in which to connect with her from workshops to one on one coaching relationships. Learn more about her coaching services at www.lauralmillercoaching.com