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Resilience: little things that make a big difference


Every day we have the opportunity to build our resilience.

YES! Every day!

The myriad choices we make about what to eat & drink, when to move, and how to live from moment to moment can either build or erode our resilience.

If we choose to race from stress to disaster to stress while downing multiple cups of coffee and barely eating, then one day our resilience will run out… We’ll try to flex and instead we’ll snap. (Don’t ask me how I learned this 😶)

If instead we choose to live a little more slowly, taking time to breathe, enjoy good food and enjoy life, then our flex remains and can even grow! When the brown stuff hits the whirly thing, we’ll be well-placed to cope and bounce back.

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What is resilience?

Resilience is our inner ‘elastic’ – the quality within us that helps us bend, flex and roll with life’s ups and down.

When our resilience is low, we become brittle and fragile – breaking point is never far away.

Resilience is a physical thing – it is how our bodies and brain respond to stress. To borrow from Wallace and Gromit, resilience is the bounce in our bungee!

The good news is that it is simple to build our resilience – and our everyday habits and choices can play a huge part in whether we flex or snap.

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How can we build our resilience?

Here’s four ways you can tweak your daily habits to build your resilience:

  • Breathe deep
  • Drink water
  • Eat well
  • Move & rest

If you’re anything like me, you’ll have excellent intentions about eating veg and drinking water and doing x number of steps. Following through and making that reality is where I fall down! How about you?

Here’s what I’ve learned to help me follow through on my intentions and actually get resilient.

Breathe deep

If you do nothing else from this post, please do this:

  • put your hand on your belly and breathe slowly and deeply (so your hand moves up and down) for a few minutes each day.

Taking a few minutes each day to take deep slow belly breaths can make a HUGE difference in your body’s ability to cope with life.

When we breathe deep, our brain switches off the fight-or-flight response of our amygdala (our dinosaur brain) and switches on our pre-frontal cortex which lets us think and plan.

That fight-or-flight response was designed to help us run from sabre-toothed tigers. It wasn’t built for the constant stress of our modern lives. When we get stuck in fight-or-flight mode, it affects not just our brain but our whole body – even how we digest and where we store fat!

Breathing deeply helps calm the fight-or-flight response down and helps us think better, digest better, and sleep better.

Throughout February, I’m running a Live-Along called #dailybreath2018 

You can join in easily by doing some deep slow belly breathing every day. There’s more information and encouragement on the Verdant Mystic Facebook page (Tip: check out the pinned post).

Drink water

Our bodies are made up of a lot of water – about 60% of us is water.

Drinking plenty of water (or other non-caffeinated, non-alcoholic fluid) each day helps our bodies function well  and our brains, too.

A hydrated brain is a happy, healthy brain!

If you’re feeling tired or bleh, trying adding some water and see what happens…

Eat well

Yes, I do mean veg 😉

Eat as much as you can manage of a rainbow of fresh or frozen fruit and veg each day.

You’ll get a whole bunch of vitamins and minerals to help your body, and a whole bunch of fibre to help your guts.

Tip: remember to breathe deep BEFORE eating so your digestion works really well.

Move & rest

We need to move our bodies and we need to rest our bodies. The trick is finding the right balance for you. You’ll need to experiment to work out what works best for you.

There’s lots of different ways to move: walk, dance, play basketball, do star jumps, swim… Play around with different ways of moving and see what you enjoy. If you enjoy it, you’re more likely to do it.

There’s also lots of different ways to rest. If your body is weary, but your brain is fine, try reading. If your brain is dead, but your body is restless, try gentle exercise: a stroll or tai chi or similar… Hobbies where like colouring and knitting can be restful, too. And napping is always good! Again, play around gently and see what suits you.

How can you tell if you need to move or to rest? Here’s how I work it out:

  • If you’ve been doing a lot with your body or your brain, then try resting.
  • If you find you’re resting heaps and still feel sluggish, try moving instead and see if that helps.

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So… what will you try?

Remember to let me know how you get on!

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If you want to dig deeper into your resilience, here’s a couple of resources that I find useful:

  • Bonnie St John and Allen Haines have written an excellent book called Micro-Resilience. It contains a multitude of hacks and tweaks and research to help you make the most of your life.
  • Umbrella is a New Zealand organisation focused on resilience training. This post is a good introduction to their work: Dealing with the overwhelm

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I’m opening up to accept new coaching clients from 14 February 2018 (that’s next week!) If you’re keen or curious, enquire now to book your spot.