Techniques and tips for building your resilience to daily stress
Everyone experiences stress in their lives, however not everyone is negatively impacted by stress. For some, stress connects to their ‘taking action button’ and helps them to achieve the desired result. An example of this is the person who copes well under pressure and deadlines, the adrenal rush of stress fires them up and keeps them motivated and confident. However, the person who doesn’t cope well with pressure and deadlines will find the adrenal rush adds to their stress ‘bucket’ and can contribute to a meltdown or anxiety attack from being overwhelmed.
What is my stress ‘bucket’?
If you can imagine a set of scales as an example. The right side has your stress bucket, (who by the way I call Henry). The left side is your life energy bucket (who I call D’Lisa). To cope well and have resilience for optimum wellness, your life energy bucket needs to be fuller than your stress bucket.
Just like a bucket under a dripping tap, your stress bucket can fill up as easily with smalls drips as with larger drops or gushes. These drops of stress can come from many causes, some in your control and some out of your direct control including life’s challenges, health issues, environmental toxins, emotions or work/life balances issues to name a few. Whether they are small drips or larger drops makes no difference, when ‘Henry’ is full the next drip will cause it to overflow. If at the same time your life energy reserves are low, you can find that your resilience, your wellness and your ability to cope will be negligible.
Your life energy is your storage point for resilience, enthusiasm, immune response, joy and happiness meter. It helps you to cope better, feel good and create health and harmony in your life. This ensures that your body has the capacity to fight infection, respond better to stressful events/environments and to be more resilient.
How is stress resilience connected to sleep?
A very good definition of Resilience comes from the Mayo Clinic – “Resilience is your ability to adapt well and to recover quickly after stress, adversity, trauma or tragedy. If you have a resilient disposition, you are better able to maintain poise, a healthy level of physical and psychological wellness in the face of life’s challenges. If you are less resilient, you are more likely to dwell on problems, feel overwhelmed, use unhealthy coping tactics to handle stress and develop anxiety and depression.”
Here are some of my favourite and personal tips for resilience as a key principle of wellness.
Tip 1: Choose to feel happy! Happiness is always a choice. When life is challenging you and gives you lemons, choose to make lemonade or even Margaritas. When you are feeling happy, you will smile more easily and often. Smiling gives your body/brain connection permission to release happy hormones which in turn help to uplift and support you. At the beginning and end of each day, reflect on at least three things/events/comments that make you smile. Enjoy the moment and be filled with positive happy energy.
Tip 2: Sleep! Your body requires sleep – peaceful sleep – to be able to recover and recharge for the next day. It is awesome to get at least 6-8 hours of good sleep per night and it is often said that sleep you manage before midnight is extra beneficial. If your head is filled with challenges, negative thoughts or worries that go around and around in your mind, learn to create a pattern of wellness techniques to help you offload them. Take the time to write down your persistent worry thoughts on a piece of paper or notebook. This tells the brain that you are dealing with them and have taken some action. Also turn off your IT devices at least half an hour before bedtime, wear comfy clothing that represents sleep and safety. Give yourself permission to sleep and importantly congratulate yourself for getting some sleep, even if initially it was not as long as you had hoped for. Baby steps are all positive.
Tip 3: Look for ‘Best Ever’ moments in a day or even turn awkward moments into ‘best evers’. Your body/brain/emotion responds well to the word best. Looking for and acknowledging best ever moments helps to foster resilience. It encourages you to take the time and intention to focus on better/happier thoughts. You can also uplift your energy and resilience from a not so good moment by using ‘best ever’ in the statement. It defuses the negative energy and lightens your mood. An example of this is someone who wakes frequently during the night. When asked how they slept, the thought of the disturbed night could cause annoyance, anger or frustration. Their response could be phrased “I had the worse night sleep!”, which is a negative energy statement, even though it is a true statement. If instead they responded with “I had the best ever worse night sleep” their emotion connection is not quite sure what energy this is and reacts to the word best, it also finds the comment a bit silly and comical so often invites a smile. It is still a truthful statement but does not add to the negative energy or stress bucket.
Like any new skill, building your stress resilience requires intention, commitment and repetition to become second nature, however the positive difference that it will make to your health and wellbeing definitely makes it worth the effort. Remember YOU are important, so make your health and wellness important as well so that you can live your best life.
Adapted from the Australasian Sustainable Wellness Academy’s Accredited Diploma of Wellness Leadership Program – The roadmap, tool kit and mentoring for managers and leaders to effectively integrate wellness into lives and workplaces.
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