Thoughts from Counselors

Buiding Resiliency

By Michael Abbott

Building Resilience

Are you feeling like things are getting tough? Are you feeling like the day to day events are wearing you down? Do you find it hard to bounce back from negative experiences?

Building resiliency for the difficult times (and good times) is a skill set that can be developed and growth can accumulate over time.

Dr. Herbert Benson, “the modern father of the relaxation response” discusses a process in which resiliency can be cultivated:

  • Find a quiet place.
  • Close your eyes.
  • Relax your body.
  • Slow your breathing.
  • Focus on your breathing (or repeat a word, sound, prayer, phrase, or image) on the exhale.
  • When you lose focus guide yourself back into focus (without judgment or self-criticism).
  • Practice for 12-15 minutes.
  • Make a commitment to daily practice for 30 days.

Below is a list of items to consider when in meditation (and throughout the day):

  • Install the good. We all need to work on reducing the effect of the negativity bias by focusing on positive experiences, feelings, or thoughts (Pulling the weeds and planting the flowers).
  • Cultivate acceptance. “Acceptance is not about apathy, resignation, or giving up; it may mean that you consciously acknowledge and unpleasant reality and realize that the situation calls for action”. The key is to focus on what is within your control and let go of the things that are beyond your control.
  • Commune with nature. Spend time in the outside environment. Spend time with a domestic animal in the park, walk through the forest, and make a bond with nature. Take a break from technology and visit nature.
  • Practice gratitude. Gratitude is contagious, not only between people but within people. The more we engage in attitudes of gratitude, the happier we are, the more resilient we become, and the more opportunities we seek to help others.
  • Simplify. So much of life is “go-go-go”, everyone needs to take a moment to relax and gather their thoughts. Doing so can help one become more energized and less prone to stress overload. I have a picture on my wall in my office that depicts a hammock on a beach and reads “the art of doing nothing is really something”. Get rid of excess stuff and focus less on material things.
  • Be mindful. Be in the moment and enjoy each moment. This leads to great connectedness with others and a sense of belonging.
  • Embrace spirituality. Spirituality increases a sense of meaning and purpose.

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