Building Emotional Resilience
by Robin Thomas
Are you still feeling on edge about the pandemic? If so, you’re not alone. Worrying about illness for yourself and your loved ones and friends, physical distancing, self-isolation, closure of businesses and schools, and coping with job loss and financial uncertainty are challenging and stressful for almost everyone. What makes it particularly stressful is not knowing when it will ever end. So, it’s more important than ever to develop coping skills that build emotional resilience, allowing us to bounce back from negative experiences.
Start your day quietly and with intention
Checking your email and turning on the news primes your brain for stress, and alerts us to look for things going wrong. Start your day instead with some quiet time to reflect on yourself and your own intentions for the day. Early in the morning is a great time to meditate, write in your journal, and do some gentle stretching. Making a daily ritual for yourself will help your brain develop a natural sympathetic/parasympathetic cycle that allows you to be more resilient to stress.
Change your mindset
Yes, even through very challenging times, it IS possible to train your brain to become happier and more positive. When we repeat simple habits that bring our daily attention to gratitude, the neurons in our brain actually change in response to the repetition, and we feel less stress. Here are two simple habits that you will be able to incorporate in your daily life starting today.
Focus on Gratitude. Each day write down three good things that you are thankful for before you go to bed. This starts the habit for your mind to look for good things and it will see them more and more often.
Set a Notification Trigger. Put a short uplifting phrase into your phone as an alarm. Three times a day, my phone alarms BRING THE JOY. This reminds me to bring joy in the moment, and conditions my conscious and my subconscious mind to bring positive feelings into my everyday life. I particularly love this alarm at 3 pm, a time when my energy generally sinks.
Close Your Eyes and Breath. Throughout the day when you feel the anxiety start to rise, take two-three minutes to breathe deeply. Sit comfortably, with your knees bent, and your shoulders, head, and neck relaxed. Breathe in slowly through your nose so that you are breathing deep into your abdomen. While taking each breath, consciously relax the tension in each part of your body: Shoulders, Neck, Face, Mind, and Spirit. Say the words RELEASE or RELAX as you breathe for two-three minutes.
Focus on what you can control
Now is the perfect time to focus on physical resilience– the things we can control. Frequently we react to our anxiety with special treats such as snack foods, sleeping in, sugar, and alcohol. Our physical health has a huge impact on how we feel, how our minds function, and even our emotions. It impacts our energy levels and our ability to handle the daily problems that arise in life.
How are you taking care of your physical resilience? Are you…
Sleeping well, but not too much?
Drinking plenty of water?
Taking deep breaths?
Eating plenty of fresh, whole foods?
Moving your body every day?
Supplementing your diet with quality micronutrients?
I help individuals stop feeling powerless about their health by guiding them through ways to get started with healthy habits without becoming overwhelmed. This is a time for connection, not for “going it alone.” Please feel free to reach out to me if you’d like to talk.
Robin Thomas worked for 25 years in Medical Research at UNC studying inflammation in chronic and autoimmune diseases. She left UNC to start her own Wellness Business in 2004 and founded Living Well Connections, a community for people whose passion is healthy living, in 2015. Learn more at robinthomas.biz