5 building blocks to resilience

My 5 building blocks to resilience are really very simple! They’re pretty much your foundations to #wellness.

🛌 SLEEP

Just the number of hormones released during your sleep alone should be enough to alert you to the importance of a healthy sleep routine. This is the necessary recovery time for your body, your mind, your emotions and serves as your daily reset. The relationship between resiliency and the ‘reset’ will feature in part 2 of my upcoming resiliency training programme. If you’re wanting sleep wellness tips though, you can check out a previous blogpost here.

💦 WATER

3.7 ltrs for men and 2.7 ltrs for women is the recommended daily fluid intake by the U.S. National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine. Some of this will come via your food intake. The rest needs to come via your drinks. Make it a habit to consume as much of this remainder as simple water, as opposed to other drinks (particularly those with caffeine in them). Research has shown us that water supplementation following a dehydrated state was found to improve performance on tasks measuring cognitive reflection in judgement and decision-making – critical elements of resiliency[1].

🙏 SPIRITUAL LIFE

Resiliency requires the use of both your intellect and your will (i.e. the heart). There is a very deep connection between resiliency and spirituality, which is often used as a tool to live well in relationships, manage change, cope with adversity, increase power of belief, and commit to upholding values and practices[2]. Nourish your spiritual life with prayer and meditation, and over time with the help of God’s grace, you will find yourself more ‘connected’ and more ready to face difficulties that will form (painful but necessary) part of your interior growth and maturation.

🥗 HEALTHY EATING

The link between stress and resilience is well known. And so is the advice on healthy eating to reduce stress[3]. In summary, here are the sub-tips I’ll share on #functionalfood:

  • Eat to reduce inflammation in the body. Inflammation can cause a multitude of bodily malfunctions and imbalances, so be pro-active in avoiding chronic illness by reducing that.
  • Eat to promote and support your immune system. Daily raw fermented foods and aids are a great starting point. 
  • Consume your daily (or weekly) required amounts of vitamins and minerals. A 7 day food diary to kick this off is the best thing you can do to check that you’re on the right track!

🏋️‍♀️ EXERCISE

Doing your 10,000 steps is amazing… but it’s not enough. Our bodies were designed for movement – particularly walking – yes. But it was also designed for lifting, carrying and general resistance-style work. The minimum requirements of exercise for adults aged 18-64 are:

  • at least 150–300 minutes of moderate-intensity aerobic physical activity; or at least 75–150 minutes of vigorous-intensity aerobic physical activity; or an equivalent combination of moderate- and vigorous-intensity activity throughout the week 
  • muscle-strengthening activities at moderate or greater intensity that involve all major muscle groups on 2 or more days a week
  • limit the amount of time spent being sedentary
  • aim to do more than the recommended levels of moderate- to vigorous-intensity physical activity 

Note the importance of strength & conditioning exercise being included in your weekly routine. The body needs it. And if your body needs it, so does your resilience.


[1] https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/30666412/ Given the varied effects of water on cognition, this study explored potential effects of water supplementation, hydration status, and thirst on thinking and decision-making tasks.

[2] https://www.tandfonline.com/doi/full/10.1080/15528030.2018.1532859

[3] https://rightasrain.uwmedicine.org/body/food/healthy-eating-for-resilience


I’m Claz, a personal health & career coach as well as a massage therapist based in West London, accredited in the UK. You can book a session with me here or sign up to my workshops on my Eventbrite Page. Upcoming workshops include personal resiliency training.

Glossary of Terms related to Self-Confidence

This glossary or terms has been put together as a way of understanding the deeper meaning of the word, according to its Latin etymology. For the few words like ‘shy’, which don’t have Latin origin, I’ve taken the old English meaning (often rooted in old Norse or old French).

Faith (Latin: fides as above)- To trust, to believe

Confidence (Latin: Con=with; fidere (same root as fides)) – With trust, with belief, assurance in, reliance of

Self-confidence – As above + in oneself

Love (affective) – to cherish, delight in, approve (for the sake of the other’s good, and not as a means to one’s own self-gratification or self-satisfaction)

Self-belief – Conviction of the truth of oneself

Self-interest – a motive of human action oriented purely to oneself

Ego – the conscious and permanent subject of one’s own mental experiences and free decisions

Self-worth – the inherent significance, value and dignity of oneself

Humility – grounded, down to earth, authentic perception of one’s state

Self-esteem – to value -, determine the value of -, appraise -, oneself

Arrogance – a manifest feeling of superiority of one’s worth or importance, combined with contempt of others

Self-respect – act of regarding -, a looking at -, observe -, oneself

Self-acceptance – take or receive willingly the self. This notion assumes that one receives oneself as a gift unto themselves and unto others [and the necessity of the divine Gift-Giver]

Self-centred – assignation of a point round which things revolves being oneself. Also meaning engrossed in the self combined with little regard for others

Selfish – Often a momentary motive behind an act that is self-seeking, self-ended, self-ful.  Tends to be seen as lacking consideration for other people; concerned chiefly with one’s own personal profit or pleasure

Egocentric – Often a behavioural trait or dispositional characteristic centred in or arising from a person’s own individual existence or perspective without regard for the feelings or desires of others

Self-doubt – to dread -, fear -, be afraid -, be of two minds -, undecided -, in and of oneself

Optimistic – disposed to take the most hopeful view of a matter

Hopeful – to be full of confident expectation

Persevering – continue steadfastly, persist

Resilient – inclined to leap or spring back (from set-backs, adversity)

Shy – timid, easily startled, shrinking from -, avoidance of -, contact with others

Scared – to experience: fright, to shrink from, shun, prevention of, aversion of

Persistence – abide, continue steadfastly

Fear – irrational panic, horror, or aversion

Afraid – to take out of peace

 

A massive thank you to the Online Etymology Dictionary for its help in this!

Where is your stress coming from and what is the impact on you? A piece on systematic stress management

Stress is a really interesting topic to me as I consider the hugely challenging circumstances currently being experienced all over the world during the Covid-19 lockdown.

The aim of this blogpost isn’t to give you 10 top tips to short-term stress relief. As it’s mental health awareness week, you will find this kind of material in every other post you scroll through. Rather, the point of this post is to give you a deeper physiological understanding of stress, and to point you in the right direction in implementing long-term changes so that you are in a better position to manage stress for the long haul. I’m coming at this as someone who treats bodily stress through massage therapy, and as a life, career and wellbeing coach whose clients are coping with various stressors (more about what this is later). I would also really like to thank Jaromir Myslivecek from the Institute of Physiology of Charles University in Prague, Czech Republic for his research into this topic. His article The Basis of the Stress Reaction has provided the main scientific foundation for this blogpost.

 

What is stress, from a physiological point of view?

Understanding what stress is helps us to navigate it, deal with it, give it its right place in our lives. So what is stress? There are many definitions for stress, as Myslivecek alludes to. In his view, ‘stress is the body’s response to strain (inner or outer). This response is characterised by stress response elements that could have both positive/beneficial impact (eustress) or a negative/detrimental impact (distress) on the body’. I will pick up on this more because human beings (as with all living creatures) have been designed to cope with stress. Myslivecek describes stress as ‘the body’s response to strain (inner or outer). It is not a nervous tension, as it can occur in lower animals and even in plants, which have no nervous system. Stress is not a reaction to a specific thing. It should be considered a reaction that helps the organism cope with different situations and, therefore, stress cannot and should not be avoided.’

Let’s look briefly into human histology – bone ossification (growth) in particular, since it will explore Myslivecek’s point more. Our bones grow under enormous stress. Is it necessary? Yes, it is – as the pressure is part of the process of the strengthening of bone tissue. Our bones never stop growing since bone cells in the body continue to reproduce to replace those that die. Broken bones knit together and heal by growth. As we get older, our bones are still renewing, but the rate of deterioration of cells in the bone may be faster than the renewal process. This kind of stress is eustress.

So… our bodies were designed and built to handle eustress. From the moment we were conceived, our bodies have remained in some form of eustress – the stress of growing. They will continue to handle growth stresses until the moment we take our last breath. Where we are physically, emotionally, socially and psychologically distressed for prolonged periods of time – well, this is something that our bodies are not naturally designed or built for.

We can think about it this way: Eustress leads to positive outcomes and impacts, in so far as the end goal is not a negative one, or does not transform into a distress. Distress leads to negative outcomes and impacts. In BOTH of these, we will find: STRESS. This is enough overview with which to begin from. I welcome medical experts to comment or even correct me if needed.

 

Is it manageable?

Stress is an overused word these days, and I believe that is partly because of a genuine lack of understanding of the two different types of stresses, and how we ought to relate to them. Stress can also increase or decrease to different degrees as well. It’s very easy to believe that our stress is one thing, but it is actually another. There is quite a lot of chaos and confusion if the stress is distressful or if the stress is chronic (no longer manageable). Only eustress will recollect you, bring you some peace, order and direction in the context of stress itself. Stress is manageable, and even when you think you’ve lost all control, not all hope is lost.

To navigate through the stress, to put together your action plan for managing it, and to see the light at the end of the tunnel,  two of the most important things to look at are the cause of the stresses, and the impact the stress is having on you.

 

How can the cause (aka the stressor) be identified?

‘Stressors can influence the organism acutely (acute/single stress) or chronically (chronic/repeated/long-lasting stress)’ says Myslivecek. ‘The repeated influence of a stressor can have great significance in the context of allostasis, which is defined as the ability to maintain stability through change’. As a change management practitioner, you can imagine my delight in the science of this statement… but that’s a topic for another day!

400x400 8 Wellbeing KeysTo determine the cause of the stress (the stressor / the stimulus / the trigger), I run a wellbeing self-assessment with my clients. This report is an analysis of the eight wellbeing keys to the right. I help my clients come to crystal clarity on what their stressors are, so that the root can either be nourished or dug up. Nourished when the stressor leads to eustress. Dug up (I’m sorry, this is usually quite a painful process) when the stressor leads to distress. Although Myslivecek says that ‘in humans, the majority of stressors are psychological and social’, the other areas of wellbeing could be greatly impacted. So I offer this assessment as part of a wellbeing coaching package, OR people are welcome to simply complete a questionnaire then purchase their unique report from me for only £19.95 to see their results.

You can take your wellbeing self-assessment here: http://bit.ly/ToC-WSA.

You could also complete this explorative task on your own and without any aid. All you need to do is look at each wellbeing key, and write down what is discomforting, not quite at right balance, stress-invoking or is unsatisfactory to you in your life.

Here’s an example exploring the social key: a) Tension in the relationship between my boss and myself. b) My kids are complaining that I am not spending enough time with them. c) At the moment I feel like I have so few friends. d) Business networking gives me the sweats. Which ones are distressful? Which ones are a form of eustress? Which ones are acute and which ones are chronic? What degree of importance on a scale of 1-10 do you give them (1 being low and 10 being high)?

Then repeat this process for the other 7 wellbeing keys, and see what comes up for you.

 

How can the impact of that stress be measured? Indeed, what is the impact of all that stress?

Taking the wellbeing self-assessment is only part one of this stress-identification journey. The second part of the journey is nailing down the exact impact the stress is having on you. For example, you may be distressed by your next door neighbour who is repeatedly playing their music on full blast until 5am keeping you awake. Not only is the outcome of physical tiredness going to have an impact on you, but you could also be greatly impacted by short-temperedness in your family relationships, or an unkept living environment, or poor performance in your workplace. To help clients determine this, I give my clients a Stress Impact Assessment (again, based on the above wellbeing keys) to complete.

A comprehensive Stress Impact Assessment is a part of my wellbeing coaching package, OR people are welcome to attend one of my Radical Self-Care Workshops to go through a mini version (4 wellbeing keys) of this Stress Impact Assessment. You’ll find all my upcoming workshops on Radical Self-Care on my Eventbrite channel.

If you wanted to assess the impacts of your stress without my aid, you could draw a 3 columned table. The first column contains your stressor. The second column contains at least 1 (but likely to be multiple) outcomes of the stressor. The third column contains the impact. This is a very important piece of work, because this will actually help you determine which stresses need addressing.

Once you understand your stressors and the impacts of that stress, you can really begin to map out a plan for stress management. Otherwise, you’re just trialling and erring without really understanding your fight-fright-flight capacities. You could be throwing away a lot of money for something that you stumble onto by accident. Approaching your stress management systematically will help combat the chaos that comes with negative stress.

 

Why work with a Wellbeing Coach

Wellbeing coaches who have a good overall knowledge of the body (I would recommend level 3 qualifications in bodywork as a minimum since they show some level of competency in the hormonal and nervous systems). They will also have a greater understanding of healthy eating, psychology, in fact –  a good holistic understanding of all 8 wellbeing keys altogether. Such a coach would be in a good position to support you in managing your stress. They can also help you in your stress prevention strategy. They:

  • Take into account your physical wellbeing, through understanding and analysis of symptoms showing up as outcomes resulting from chronic stress or distress.
  • Will help you look at your life as a whole, as no one area of your life can be isolated unto itself.
  • Work with you to implement stress management strategy – forming action plans to prevention systems.
  • Look at your dietary intake, and can recommend dietary plans (but not subscribe vitamins or supplements unless they are a registered nutritionist).
  • Go through, in overview style, your financial as well as your environmental and occupational situations.
  • Recommend physical exercises and signpost you to helpful resources.
  • Think outside the box to help you with your career progression and development, without losing or selling your soul!

 

Of course, there is so much more that could be said about this topic, even from a physiological perspective – but I hope I have achieved what I set out to according to the second paragraph. Feel free to reach out if you have any questions about the above material, or would like to embark on a bespoke 3 month wellbeing coaching programme with me. I offer a free 30 minute consultation call.

 


I’m preparing to open up a 1 year Career & Wellbeing programme to 6 keen hi-potential job hunters or career chasers to escalate their performance as individuals, and to work as a team to achieve their unique life & career visions. Do you want to be someone who receives unlimited access and support from me, who will be championing you throughout your journey of growth and self-actualisation?