Dealing with Stress/Building Resilience and Grit: An Exercise

gritFew of us will live our entire lives without some loss, sadness or regret.  Have you ever heard of the top five regrets people have noted at the end of their lives?

  • I wish I hadn’t worked so hard.
  • I wish I had stayed in touch with my friends.
  • I wish I had let myself be happier.
  • I wish I’d had the courage to express my true self.
  • I wish I’d lived a life true to my dreams, instead of what others expected of me.

Wouldn’t it be great if we could all live a life without any regrets?

This blog post will teach how to deal with stress, how to have resilience and grit, and deal with life’s curved balls.

 

The first thing to note is that people grow from negative or sorrowful experiences or get worse.  Post-traumatic growth refers to the positive gains they make after a negative experience.  Here are the top things that people with post-traumatic growth say:

  • My priorities have changed.
  • I’m not afraid to do what makes me happy.
  • I feel closer to my friends and family.
  • I understand myself better. I know who I really am now.
  • I have a new sense of meaning and purpose in my life.
  • I’m better able to focus on my goals and dreams.

Does any of this sound familiar to you?   It should, because the top five traits of post-traumatic growth are essentially the direct opposite of the top five regrets of the dying.  Now this is interesting, right?  It seems that somehow, a traumatic event can unlock our ability to lead a life with fewer regrets.

But how does it work? How do you get from trauma to growth? Or better yet, is there a way to get all the benefits of post-traumatic growth without the trauma, for example, without having to go through an illness in the first place?

There are four kinds of strength or resilience that contribute to post-traumatic growth, and there are scientifically validated activities that you can do every day to build up these four kinds of resilience.  Even better, you don’t need a trauma to do it.

We could state what these four types of strengths are, but let’s experience them firsthand, building them up together right now.  Let’s play a quick game.

Ready?

 

Physical Resilience

Make each hand into a fist and raise them over your head as high as you can for five seconds.  If you did this, well done!   Physical resilience, which means that your body can withstand more stress and heal itself faster.  We know that the number one thing you can do to boost your physical resilience is to not sit still.  That’s all it takes. Every single second that you are not sitting still, you are actively improving the health of your heart, and your lungs and brains.

 

Mental Resilience

Snap your fingers exactly 50 times, or count backwards from 100 by seven, like this: 100, 93… Go!  Mental resilience, which means you have more mental focus, discipline, determination and willpower. We know that willpower actually works like a muscle. It gets stronger the more you exercise it. So tackling a tiny challenge without giving up, even one as absurd as snapping your fingers exactly 50 times or counting backwards from 100 by seven is actually a scientifically validated way to boost your willpower.

 

Emotional Resilience

Shout out types of baby animals.  All right, what we’re just feeling is emotional resilience, which means you have the ability to provoke powerful, positive emotions like curiosity or love, which we feel looking at baby animals, when you need them most.

Here’s a secret from the scientific literature for you. If you can manage to experience three positive emotions for every one negative emotion over the course of an hour, a day, a week, you dramatically improve your health and your ability to successfully tackle any problem you’re facing. And this is called the three-to-one positive emotion ratio. It’s my favorite resilience power, so keep it up!

 

Social Resilience

Shake someone’s hand for six seconds, or send someone a quick thank you by text, email, Facebook or Twitter. Go!  Social resilience, which means you actually get more strength from your friends, your neighbors, your family, your community. Now, a great way to boost social resilience is gratitude. Touch is even better.

Here’s one more secret for you: Shaking someone’s hand for six seconds dramatically raises the level of oxytocin in your bloodstream, now that’s the trust hormone. That means that all of you who just shook hands are biochemically primed to like and want to help each other.

Oxytocin is a neuro-hormone. It fine-tunes your brain’s social instincts. It primes you to do things that strengthen close relationships. Oxytocin makes you crave physical contact with your friends and family. It enhances your empathy. It even makes you more willing to help and support the people you care about.  And studies show that when you actually care for others and help others your resilience increases.

 

So, after all of this, do you think you can reduce your stress by building your resilience in these ways?   Again, even if you have not experienced a traumatic event, the concept of post-traumatic growth can help build your resilience and grit.

 

This is a message from MorseLife Home Care.  For more information, call (561) 616-0707 or link to www.morselife.org.

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