As featured on our Monthly Mat Chats, September 2023.
So why does resilience matter?
In the ebb and flow of life, resilience is the sturdy vessel that keeps us afloat, amidst the tumultuous seas of daily challenges. It's the inner strength that allows us not only to weather the storms but to emerge from them stronger. Particularly during the most trying times, the importance of nurturing our innate resilience becomes abundantly clear, for it is resilience that empowers us to navigate life with more grace and ease.
The Anatomy of Resilience
Resilience isn't an abstract concept; it's rooted in the very mechanisms that govern our body and mind. To truly grasp the essence of resilience, we need to take a closer look at the Autonomic Nervous System (ANS), the body's inbuilt survival system. The ANS orchestrates three primary states, each with its distinctive characteristics:
1. The Social Engagement System - SAFETY: This state is characterised by feeling comfortable, calm, and grounded. In this mode, we are open, curious, and compassionate, with our full capacity for empathy. Conflicts are resolved harmoniously.
2. Fight & Flight - DANGER: Activation is the defining feature here. We become more susceptible to emotions like anger, worry, and anxiety, and the shadow of panic looms closer.
3. Freeze - LIFE THREAT: In this state, everything slows down, often culminating in a sense of collapse and demobilisation. Dissociation, numbness, depression, and an overwhelming feeling of hopelessness can take hold.
Chronic stimulation of either this Fight & Flight or Freeze response can lead to severe chronic conditions that may manifest as a profound lack of energy, breathing difficulties, low blood pressure, muscle and joint pain, and emotional turmoil, encompassing anxiety, depression, and post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). We might feel a sense of helplessness, hopelessness, a lack of empathy, and pervasive shame.
At the heart of resilience also lies an understanding of trauma - a spontaneous protection mechanism that has been fine-tuned over millennia of evolution. Trauma represents the body's response to anything it perceives as a threat or does not fully comprehend. Trauma is not a conscious choice but an integral part of the human experience, unique to each individual.
Resilience entails recognising and nurturing every facet of our being. It encompasses the state of our physical health, our mental capacity, our emotional equilibrium, and the strength that transcends our biological vulnerabilities. In essence, resilience emphasises prevention over cure and restoration over fixing.
The Resilience Toolkit
Resilience serves as the bedrock upon which we navigate the tempestuous seas of life. It transcends mere survival - it embodies growth and evolution through adversity.
Resilience is not a fixed trait but an evolving quality that flourishes through:
1. After-Care: A process that involves self-reflection and care following challenging events.
2. Integration: The assimilation of these events into our life story.
3. Post-Trauma Growth: The profound opportunity for personal evolution that emerges from adversity.
When we cultivate resilience, we gain the courage to traverse the full spectrum of natural nervous system responses.
Nurturing this innate resilience is an ongoing journey, involving regular recharging - taking moments to replenish our physical, mental, and emotional energies, staying fully resourced and ensuring that we are prepared as comprehensively as possible. We need to cultivate a solid self-care routine by developing practices that promote our overall well-being.
Seeking and accepting help from others is also essential, as we recognise that asking for assistance is not a sign of weakness but an embodiment of strength.
Tune in with #MonthlyMatChats for more.
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