You don’t need to look far to find people who have overcome adversity to create incredible lives for themselves. Those that have had to escape traumatic childhoods or face some form of prejudice.
Anyone who aspires to be emotionally resilient, look to those that are able to roll with the punches or bounce back. Some call it failing forward or bouncing forward.
The foundation of emotional resilience is being able to weather the storm, to be able to experience stress without it destroying your motivation, hope or purpose.
Psychology Today describes it as:
“Resilience is that ineffable quality that allows some people to be knocked down by life and come back stronger than ever. Rather than letting failure overcome them and drain their resolve, they find a way to rise from the ashes.”
Being emotionally resilient works in hand with emotional intelligence, that is, a heightened awareness and understanding of your emotions and the emotions of others. This gives more control over negative or overwhelming thoughts and feelings and increases an optimistic or brave outlook.
An essential element of growth is change, without it, we can not grow. Change is never comfortable, however, when we can learn to embrace it and learn skills to adapt, we are able to ride the wave of change a little more easily. Emotional Resilience enables us to feel like we can control how we respond to events, even when they are out of our control. It enables us to be better problem solves and to assert ourselves in situations.
Too much stress can cause an overproduction of cortisol. Too much cortisol for an extended period of time (chronic stress) can damage our immune system. The immune system can build up a tolerance to cortisol when levels stay elevated for long periods of time and make us susceptible to illness.
So here are four things you can do right now to help build your emotional resilience.
Don’t confuse self-compassion with self-esteem. They are different. Self Esteem relates to your lack of self-worth which is often impacted by external factors.
Self-compassion is about changing some of your thinking habits, avoiding the ‘negative Nancy/Nigel’ and being your own best friend. Think about what you would say to a friend going through the same experience you are right now. It’s about detaching from the situation, becoming aware of what is happening in that moment, identifying it may be painful or difficult and being kind to ourselves. It’s in the difficult moments that we need to remind ourselves that no one is perfect and that imperfection is a shared human experience. In hindsight, we can see any failure as a learning opportunity and ask ourselves ‘What was the learning in this experience? What valuable knowledge did I gain from this?’
One of the challenges of this experience is to avoid a ‘victim’ mentality whereby blaming someone or something else for our undoing. An emotionally intelligent response is to allow yourself to assume that everyone involved was doing the best that could, with what they had, in that moment; including you. That others were acting in good faith and to the best of their ability. Walk a mile in another’s shoes before passing judgement.
Watch Animal Videos to Reduce Stress
Yes, it’s true, watching those sill cat videos can have many benefits such as reducing your stress, increase energy and increase joy. A study by Assistant Professor Jessica Gall Myrick of Indiana University’s Media School investigated the emotional impact of cat videos. She discovered that her research continually came up with the same conclusion; that people love watching cats doing crazy things because it gives them joy. (No surprise there).
Other research suggests that viewing funny, cute animals can increase cognitive, emotional and behavioural response. It also increases the production and flow of ‘happy hormones’.
There’s no doubt that cats make people happy, and happy people like sharing videos. Did you know that in according to the Professor’s research, more than 2 million cat clips were posted to YouTube? Amounting to almost 26 billion views — more views per video than any other YouTube category. This was back in 2014. Imagine what it is now?
Gratitude Helps Us to Be Happier
Serotonin and dopamine are the ‘happy hormones’ our brain releases when we express or receive gratitude. With a daily practice of gratitude, our neuropathways get stronger, allowing us to feel content, more often. Research has also shown that gratitude can improve sleep and reduce pain.
Thinking of what you are grateful for at the end of the day allows those positive thoughts to stay with us as we drift off.
We can also show gratitude to our friends, children, spouse or work colleagues in small ways. Make it an unconditional habit and watch how infectious it becomes. Gratitude is contagious. Some businesses set aside a budget to allow for a small colleague to colleague thank you gifts.
Get Back to Nature
Nature’s beauty is surprisingly powerful for reducing stress. Back in the 1980s, architects found that patients recovered more quickly from surgery when their hospital rooms looked out on to nature. Other research has demonstrated that simply looking at pictures of natural scenes can change the way a person’s autonomic nervous system responds to stress. Utilising nature during your lunch break, prior to a stressful afternoon, can help enhance recovery of autonomic function. This, in turn, enhances your emotional resilience. Getting out in nature for simple exercise can increase the production of the rewarding dopamines.
P.S. If you’re a Busy Working Woman and you’d like more advice, tips and information to minimise stress and maximise time, join our Facebook tribe of Busy Working Women Owning Their Lives.