Resilience: What is it, why do we want it, and how do we get more of it?

I am just getting back from an epic snowboarding adventure to Colorado. The trip went off without a hitch—great snow, awesome time alone with my husband and sequential days devoted to fun. There is nothing I love more than barreling down a mountain on a board, breathing fresh air, and zipping through trees.

Though this trip itself was fabulous, the flight home didn’t feel like so much fun.  We hit tons of turbulence and I had a few white knuckled moments that led me to question my desire to ever fly again. Fortunately, about fifteen minutes or so into this bumpy ride, I decided to surrender into my ability to trust—trust that I was safe, protected and capable of weathering this rocky ride home.  This turbulent flight made me think about the month ahead, which astrologically looks a bit bumpy too.

April promises to be one of the most interesting months of 2014, with some especially noteworthy energy—two eclipses, a Grand Cardinal Cross, and the fifth of seven Uranus square Pluto aspects which have been creating tension for a while now.  This particularly potent astrological month doesn’t exactly have “clear skies” written all over it and for many of us might come with a bit of turbulence.

The truth is we are coming into a time when we are being asked to clear debris and blocks, in order to let go of everything that holds us back in order to escalate the pace of our awakening! While the higher meaning here is to take us closer to a more enlightened way of living, the truth is sometimes enlightenment inducing experiences don’t always feel enlightening.

Given the probability that, for some of us, all of this rumbling and tumbling in the sky may feel a bit like a bumpy flight, I want to talk about a topic that informs everything I do in my business: resilience.

(If you are interested in learning more about April’s Cardinal Grand Cross, I highly suggest checking out the Astro Twins’ blog:  http://astrostyle.com/april-grand-cross/ They did such a great job explaining this, I don’t think it is necessary to write my own take on it. #AstroTwinsRock)

As you may have noticed, I aim to work carefully in the intersection between evidence-based research and soul driven spirituality. I am an astrologer obsessed with scientifically sound approaches to health, happiness and well-being. As an Integrative Medicine Behavior Change Specialist and Positive Psychology Coach, it’s my goal to help women optimize their wellbeing so they can experience peak performance, and maximize their impact in the world, even in the face of hardship and stress. The main way I do this is through helping my clients experience higher levels of emotional resiliency.

Resiliency is our capacity to handle stress, trauma or loss, and simultaneously continue to move in the direction of flourishing. Each of us can handle the ups and downs of life in a healthy way. It’s my goal to coach my clients so they enhance this innate and natural ability within themselves. We have the capacity to stay centered – even in the midst of extreme turmoil – and we are equipped to healthfully adapt to stressful situations. As my teacher, mentor and friend Dr. Maria Sirois says, “Resiliency is what allows us to rise in the presence of difficulty.”  (I just love that!)

Developing our capacity for resiliency is what allows us to experience joy even in the presence of turbulence.

Given my mission to support ambitious and passion driven women in achieving their full potential while living the full expression of their health, emotional resiliency is the cornerstone to my professional practice. Let’s face it, as we step into our power and make big moves in this world we ditch the concept of “playing it safe.” In order to navigate the terrain of putting our asses on the line in pursuit of the highest expression of our purpose, the one thing we need more than anything else is our resiliency! Without it, we become susceptible to life circumstances taking us out. I don’t know about you, but that’s just not an option for me.

Luckily, we are in a time where science not only supports the notion that we can build our resiliency, but also has already proven ways to do so. Go science!

Research in resiliency teaches us that we can accept reality as it is and continue to make healthy choices anyway. In doing so, we become stronger, better able to adapt to stress, and capable of success despite any hardship endured.

In order to develop our resiliency, it’s important to face life exactly as it is and simultaneously choose to respond to it with healthy choices. Life at times may deal us a few knuckle sandwiches – the metaphorical bumpy flights (note: this is not evidence of poor execution of the law of attraction; it’s just part of life). However, even in the face of the most extreme hardship, we have a choice of how we respond. Resiliency means allowing ourselves the ability to face things, shitty as they may be and still make healthy, enlivening choices. This means granting ourselves the permission to feel the full range of our emotions while making behavioral decisions that bolster our ability to stay centered, wise and clear hearted!

So, as we move into the precarious Cardinal Grand Cross this month, and likely contend with conflicting energies pulling us in opposing directions that ultimately are asking us to evolve, grow and rise…

Here are 6 scientifically proven things you can do to improve your own resiliency!

1.     Rest. Science shows us that getting adequate sleep allows you to not only access your creative mind more easily, thereby enhancing your ability to come up with better solutions to your problems, being well rested also enables you to make wiser decisions when it comes to eating. Reducing cravings for unhealthy food will strengthen your ability to make great meal choices, an essential factor in mitigating stress during difficult times.

2.     Lead with your strengths. Every single person has strengths. Resilient people understand the power of leaning into their strengths during difficult times. Each of us has natural character strengths that when utilized, open our ability to feel more confident, bolster our positivity, and increase our resiliency. The next time you find yourself in a stressful situation ask yourself, “What personal strength can I bring to this situation that will help me deal with this productively?” (If you’ve never taken the VIA strengths test, check it out! http://www.viacharacter.org/www/) During difficult times, it’s important to operate from your strengths, not your vulnerabilities. Apply strengths during both high and low stress times in order to enhance hope, growth and positivity.  My top five character strengths are fairness, honesty, hope, love of learning and bravery. What are yours?

3.     Practice gratitude. Resilient people are able to appreciate the good things in life even during shitty moments. This doesn’t mean becoming a Pollyanna, but rather, feeling the full range of emotions even when emotions are anything but positive still finding meaning in the midst of suffering. Even in dark moments we can find benefits, lessons and wisdom. If we are with our suffering productively, we can often make sense of our suffering in a way that enhances a resilient mindset. Honor the difficulty and the suffering while staying rooted in gratitude for what is good in life.

4.     Exercise. Exercise is one of the quickest ways to increase your resiliency muscles. Moving your body triggers a positive neurochemical reaction that allows you to feel more in control, happier and stronger. Honestly, exercising is a non-negotiable if you want to live a resilient life. In the words of Dr. Tal Ben-Shahar, “Not exercising is like taking a depressant.” Please don’t take depressants.

5.     Practice mindfulness. So much scientific inquiry around the benefits of mindfulness, meditation and other present moment based practices, proves they are irrefutably connected to lower stress levels. I know meditation may feel hard or confusing for some, but it doesn’t have to be. It can be as simple as closing your eyes and breathing deeply. If sitting feels too difficult for you, lie on your back fully or with your legs up the wall. Close your eyes and center yourself. Chill out for a bit and come back to the present moment. Even taking 3 deep breaths can enhance your mood.

6.     Write. Writing is one of the best ways to wrestle with difficult emotions or events in a productive fashion. Writing allows you to not only have a cathartic experience of getting your emotions off your chest, but it also allows you to shift perspectives and derive alternative meanings from your circumstances. When writing, give yourself permission to download whatever comes to mind, try to steer free of grammatical guidelines and just discharge what you are feeling. It’s a gorgeous way to transform your mood, find the benefit in the current situation, access appreciation, as well as cultivate a vision for where you intend to head.

It’s important to remember that no two paths to resiliency are the same. Some of the six tips above may work for you. Some may not. It’s important to determine for yourself what helps you adapt to stress in a healthy way. Find your own RHYTHM of resiliency:)

Listen, no matter what’s happening, there is always a way to access greater confidence, happiness, meaning, and perspective to elevate your well-being, even in dark moments. That’s what resilience is all about. It’s something we can practice, develop and expand our capacity for.

Where can you go from here?

As we embark into this exciting astrological month, be a benefit finder. If you find yourself in conflict or turmoil, dig a little deeper and find your ability to source the wisdom in the situation. What is this leading you to? What is becoming possible as a consequence of learning this lesson or releasing this block? How are you being asked to evolve?

Stay flexible: allow room for the lessons and feel your feelings fully – even the crappy ones – and discover ways to focus your energy so you can continue to move forward productively, with joy and health.

Remember, you are not alone. If you need anything, please reach out. I am thrilled to support you, however, I can.

As always, I send you my love…

Big hugs,

Jenn

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2 Comments

  • mimi

    Great , insightful, and so captures your incredible Spirit Jenn . Thanks for reminding us of some of the best and most important tenets of PP ….and writing in your own beautiful joy filled way . So very happy that you are home safely !

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