Why resilience is so important for your wellbeing

What is resilience?

Simply put, resilience is the capacity to withstand or to recover quickly from difficulties, and to learn to adapt in the face of stress, challenges, conflict and the myriad of diversities we live with on a daily basis.

HeartMath’s definition of resilience is a broader understanding of resilience – resilience is the capacity to prepare for, recover from and adapt in the face of stress, challenge or adversity.

Everyone, at some point in their lives, feels emotionally, mentally, physically and spiritually depleted. This could also be termed ‘burn-out’. This is when you have expended all your energy outwards, and are now completely drained, without any reserves to carry you forward in your day to day activities.

Why is resilience so important?

Everyone has a capacity for resilience, which can be thought of as the amount of energy you have stored internally for when you need to ‘call on it’ to help you out in times of stress and adversity. The greater your capacity and your resilience, the more energy will be available for you to access.

When you are resilient, you are better equipped to bounce back and recover from stressful situations. It is thus so important that you focus on, and build, your resilience. Difficulties and challenges are going to arise, and your resilience capacity is what is going to move you forward.

Much research has been done on the importance of getting enough good quality sleep every night. This is one of the most basic ways that your body will renew its energy levels.

How can I build and sustain my resilience capacity?

As mentioned above, get a great night’s sleep, have a healthy diet, and get regular exercise daily. This does not need to be strenuous; even a half hour walk is a great way to start.

Another way of building and sustaining your resilience, is learning and applying some of HeartMath’s coherence techniques, which will be covered in another blog. Some of these techniques are specifically geared to energy-renewing techniques, and giving you the tools to learn what drains you of energies (some of these are very subtle, so you have to be aware of what these energy drainers are to be able to deal with them effectively).

The four primary domains of resilience

There are four primary domains of resilience, namely:

  1. physical flexibility: endurance / strength
  2. mental flexibility: attention span / ability to focus / incorporate multiple points of view
  3. emotional flexibility: self-regulation / positive outlook
  4. spiritual flexibility: commitment to your values and beliefs / tolerance of others’ values and beliefs

The four domains are interrelated, and when one domain is off kilter, it has an effect one one or more of the other domains. It is possible that you might be more resilient in one domain than in the other domains. This is normal.

Stress, resilience and performance

The goal to building and sustaining resilience is by consistently using HeartMath coherence techniques, or other alternatives such as, meditations, yoga, mindfulness, embracing whatever spiritual path you have chosen etcetera. You can also reframe the way you see stress, to changing it to challenges. 

An interesting research that was done and adapted from Swank, R.L, W.E., 1946. Combat neurosis: Development of combat exhaustion. Archives of Neurology & Psychiatry 55 (3), 236-247, is shown in the diagram below, and also obtained from HeartMath Handout: Stress, Resilience and Performance:

When you embrace a challenge with a positive outlook and frame of mind, not only will your approach and methodologies used to increase your performance, be far more effective and efficient, but you will also be protecting your energy levels from becoming drained and depleted.

In the diagram above, you can see four stages in what happens when you respond to a sustained challenge. First, you embrace and improve performance, due to the initial challenge been seen as a positive motivator to get you into the a resolution mindset. Then, there follows a period of maximum efficiency. After that, you get the hyper-reactive stage, and finally, the emotionally exhaustion stage. The key here will be to reframe your stressors into opportunities of reframing, and to not become emotively involved in the nuts and bolts of the challenge. 

The best way to do this, is to take a step back, to ‘zoom-out’, and to look at the challenge objectively.

Basically, you can apply the principles of noticing, observing, being in a state of simple awareness, and then welcoming things as they are. This diffuses all mental, emotional, physical and spiritual depletion, and instead, it allows you to open up to your inner GPS system, where you will find the resolutions you are looking for, effortlessly come to mind from within. 

This will also be dealt in more depth in further blogs.

I hope that this blog has shone a light onto something new and useful for you.