How Well Do You Bounce? Part 1: Resilience & Self-Care
How Well Do You Bounce?
Part 1: Resilience & Self-Care
Kristine Proctor, MSW, LCSW
We all approach life with great expectations. And we should! Yet at times we need to deepen our understanding of ourselves in order to be successful personally and relationally. In other words, we need emotional wellbeing to thrive.
Emotional wellbeing is coping effectively with life and creating satisfying relationships. This means having an understanding of what it takes to handle stress well is essential to creating management techniques that work best for you.
How do we recognize stress?
We all experience stress but we need to dig a little deeper in our understanding of stress so that we can recognize when we are experiencing it and determine how we choose to respond. By definition, stress is a state of mental or emotional strain or tension resulting from adverse or very demanding circumstances. (1)
Stress occurs when one’s tension level exceeds their energy level, resulting in an overloaded feeling. As long as our available energy exceeds our tension level then we’re in an okay state. But if energy is low and tensions are higher, then that can lead to a state of anxiety, depression and feeling overwhelmed.
Experientially stress is:
- Low energy.
- Upset stomach, including diarrhea, constipation, and nausea.
- Aches, pains, and tense muscles.
- Chest pain and rapid heartbeat.
- Frequent colds and infections.
- Loss of sexual desire and/or ability.
- Depression or general unhappiness.
- Anxiety and agitation.
- Moodiness, irritability, or anger.
- Feeling overwhelmed.
- Loneliness and isolation.
- Other mental or emotional health problems
Do you recognize any of these in your experience? Being able to identify symptoms of stress when they are happening gives us the opportunity to intentionally respond rather than just react in the moment. Practice tracking your reactions to become aware of their occurrence. By tracking I mean, when you have these various emotional and physical reactions,notice without judging yourself. These are signals from your body and self-blame is not helpful. It is destructive and can create more stress.
Culturally, we tend to accept the idea that it is a good thing to judge ourselves when we experience negative emotions. But feelings are not to be judged. Feelings are signals from our bodies that we need to respond to. When we have a sprained ankle or broken bone, do we judge ourselves because we are experiencing pain? Typically, no. We know it is a signal from our body that we need to respond to in order to recover and be healthy. Feelings can serve a similar purpose.
Being able to recover quickly from difficulty is essential to managing our stress levels. In other words, we want to be able to bounce back. We want to be resilient.
Resilient people tend to have several characteristics in common. They are consistently able to meet the demands of their life successfully, take action to deal with challenges and setbacks and to seek support when needed.
They know when to take a break and rest and allow themselves to do so. Resilient people have a sense of independence and self-worth and intentionally form and maintain positive, mutually respectful relationships. And overall, they have a sense of purpose.
So, how well do you bounce?
Well, we can all develop our resilience! Here are a few ideas:
- Adapt a growth mindset.
- Assess how vulnerable you are to stress.
- Develop self-knowledge.
- Challenge negative thoughts and put things in perspective.
- Develop additional coping skills
- Develop body-based skills, such as deep breathing
- Develop a self-care plan
- Work to change our emotional responses
One of the keys to successful change is to ‘choose your battles.’ In other words, don’t try to change everything at once or you will quickly become overwhelmed and give up. And that means more, not less, stress!
Choose an area that seems like it would be one that you could benefit from most at this present time in your life and then explore how you might start to implement it in your life. In upcoming blogs we will explore the ideas listed above to further facilitate your resilience.
Find yourself, and be that!
(1) Oxford Dictionary
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