The Importance of Resilience
No one goes through life without experiencing adversity. There are personal experiences, such as illness, loss of a loved one, abuse, job loss and financial instability or tragic events like those currently happening in our country. A global pandemic and an unprecedented fight for racial equality has made this an incredibly unsettling time in American history. What we are experiencing now has never been experienced by our generation. The only prior experience we have is reading history books. As we have all been learning, reading about tragedies versus experiencing them come with far more adversity than we were prepared for. Our resilience has been tested by the virus and we have discovered, we may not be as strong as we thought. Yet, what seems like an insurmountable level of adversity to overcome, it is completely possible to prevail if we work on both our individual and community resilience.
What is Resilience and Why Is It Important?
Resilience is a term used to define the human ability to cope with, work through and recover from very challenging life experiences. Recently, the website Everyday Health partnered with Ohio State University and sent out a 49 question online survey to see how resilient Americans are during the COVID-19 pandemic. Eighty-three percent of Americans polled thought they had high levels of mental and emotional resilience, when in fact only fifty-seven percent scored as resilient when taking the personal assessment. Why is the actual number so low?
Resilience is not a tool we are born with. It takes time, strength, practice and support of people around us to develop the resources and skills that build individual (psychological, emotional and physical) and community resilience. All of which are vital in coping with trauma, adversity and hardship.
When people lack resilience, they are more likely to feel overwhelmed or helpless, and rely on unhealthy coping strategies (such as avoidance, isolation and self-medication). Studies have found that those who have attempted suicide had significantly lower resilience scale scores than those who never attempted suicide.
Being resilient does not negate stress, setbacks and difficult emotions from life. Instead, resilience allows you to tap into your strengths and seek help from support systems to overcome challenges and work through problems. Resilience empowers you to accept and adapt to a situation in order to move forward.
7 Steps to Take to Start Building Resilience
Remain Calm: Be consciously aware to live in the moment (Know yourself) - When we are aware of who we are and why we are here, we develop confidence from the inner knowledge of knowing ourselves. Learning to look inward is how we develop the view of our self and increase confidence. An aspect of becoming more aware of yourself, includes the ability to respond to and deal with a perceived stressful event. During time of great stress ask yourself: Is what I am doing, harming or helping me?
Use Your Body As Feedback (Your mind & body are one) - Research has shown that resilience behaviors can be learned. The mind and the body are one. If you strengthen and heal the body, you increase the mind’s resilience too. It is much more difficult to have a resilient mind if the body is struggling with pain and discomfort due to sickness or an unhealthy lifestyle. Being proactive about your physical and mental health is the vital key. You can help the body by providing systematic lifestyle habits that include: how, when and what you eat, frequency and type of exercise, quality rest and sleep, as well as, seeking professional help when needed.
Accept What Is (Embrace change with optimism) - Flexibility is an essential part of resilience. Learning to become more adaptable will help you be better equipped when a life crisis occurs. Resilient people often utilize these events as opportunities to branch out in new directions. Instead of being crushed by abrupt changes, highly resilient individuals are able to adapt and thrive. Positive thinking does not mean ignoring the problem. Instead, it means understanding that setbacks are a part of life and that you have the skills and abilities to combat the challenges and obstacles you face. Despite the fact that what you are dealing with may be difficult, you have to remain calm and know it’s a temporary situation.
Nourish Yourself (Nourish Your Body/Balance Your Mind) - To build resilience, you need a well-nourished mind/body complex. Even when you are not under stress or troubled, you need to work on building self-nurturing skills. Make it a priority to schedule activities that you enjoy that provide self-care and life meaning. Nourishing your own needs boosts overall physical, mental and emotional strengths that are the building blocks for resilience. You can’t assist others until you put the oxygen mask on yourself first.
Build Positive Social Relationships (Social Network, Not Social Media) - Building social relationships does not mean building up social media accounts. Human beings operate within the relationship they have with themselves which extends out to other life forms. Expressing your feelings with another human being in person, on the phone or through video is far superior to posting memes on your favorite social media platform. Dependence on social media actually breaks down human interaction leading to a decrease in resilience.
Find Your Purpose in Life (Set the Intention) - Having a purpose in life with a set intention helps us find balance and keep on track when an obstacle or setback occurs. Keeping your purpose and intention on the forefront gives you immunity to stress because your focus becomes positive as opposed to negatively focused on the setbacks. Practicing meditation and mindfulness can help you become clearly aware over time of who you are and why you are here.
Practice Your Skills (Life Is Practice, Enjoy the Process)
Resilience takes time to build. Don’t get discouraged if you still struggle to cope when problematic events occur. Resilience can vary dramatically from one person to the next because there is no one size fits all solution. Focus on your strengths and not your weaknesses by practicing the suggested skills listed above. Overtime your strengths will override any weaknesses.
At Main Street Chiropractic, we have been providing services that vastly improve resilience by creating a stable foundation of health. Each one of our services serve as vital building blocks to help the body to prevent, repair and reverse chronic health issues that diminish physical health. Chiropractic addresses postural imbalances that contribute to joint breakdown and muscle imbalance, as well as, boosts the nervous system’s ability to cope with stress. If the nervous system is under stress, the immune system is weakened. Customized orthotics (pelvic stabilizers) improve the structural balance of the body and enhances biomechanical function to further reduce stress. Functional medicine examines the whole body and the environment it lives in to see what essential nutrients have become depleted due to physical, emotional, nutritional and lifestyle stress. We use the Science Based Nutrition Program and nutritional counseling to fine tune nutrient imbalances that result from the chronic stressors and toxins in our environment before they develop into health conditions. Our Wellness Coaching program supplements your physical health by providing tools to positively change your psychological and emotional state. It provides a guide to help you break down the walls that might have kept you from making positive lifestyle changes in the past.
Once a person is more efficiently able to cope with physical and emotional stress, their life functions of blood pressure, hormonal control, and sleep cycles can be improved. We are all in this together and by increasing our individual resilience, we can help strengthen community resilience to better allow our family, friends and neighbors to cope with these trying moments in history.
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