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  • Heidi Blackie

Meet Stress with Resilience

The past 2 years have really tested our resilience to stress. While it is easy to feel overwhelmed, there are small, impactful things we can do to elevate our resilience so we respond rather than react when faced with stressors.

Stress is our response to an event or stimuli. The negative effects of chronic stress are far-reaching and influence our mental health, sleep, cognition, immune system, gut, cardiovascular system, and endocrine system. Unchecked, it can lead to cancer, Alzheimers, and heart disease—to name a few. Stress is critical for survival and growth, but can also lead to illness and even death. Having effective coping strategies helps strengthen our resilience in these hard times and can go a long way to creating health and vitality.

It is important to have daily practices that help keep stress in check and emergency techniques we can do in the moment if we feel stressed, anxious or overwhelmed.

Daily practice includes things like exercise, meditation, relaxation techniques, and being with community. Additionally, adequate sleep, healthy eating, and hydration make a big difference in our overall health and resilience and our ability to respond to stress in a healthy way.

In moments of intense stress—such as before an event or hearing bad news—we need a more immediate solution to calm us down, and having a toolbox of things you can implement on the spot can really help. It is always a good idea to practice in calm situations first so techniques come more easily when you need them.

What are some ways to meet stress with more resilience?

Know your triggers. For management of long term stress, it is helpful to know what triggers a heightened stress response in you—usually indicated by racing heart, clenched stomach or tightness in the chest or jaw. If you know that listening to the news or getting on Social Media creates stress, then limit your exposure to those triggers. Try doing something active, relaxing, or enjoyable instead. Sometimes we have to deal with triggers that we cannot avoid. In those cases, brainstorm ways that you can support yourself and your mindset as you approach the trigger so your response stays at a manageable level. I find that doing breathing exercises and trying to focus on something in my immediate surroundings helps me.

Establish an anchor. Think of a time when you were happy or a place that brings you peace or joy. It could even be a picture of a beautiful place that you would love to go. When you start to feel stress increase, try to pause and take a few breaths—as if you are there and breathing in the essence of that place. Be as present to that place as possible in that moment for 30 seconds or more. There is something magical about 30 seconds in its ability to shift the brain response, so try to be there for 30 seconds, if you can't, less time is also OK.

Find your breath. The breath is a powerful tool to use anytime, anywhere. When we get stressed, our breath shallows and shortens and we tend to breathe up into the neck and shoulders. This activates the fight or flight part of the nervous system which fuels a heightened stress response. Try to slow down and lengthen your breath—both the inhale and exhale. Focus it in the lower part of your lungs or belly while relaxing the neck, shoulders, and chest. Try this for 5-10 breaths and see how you feel. If counting is helpful, see if you can breathe in to the count of 5 and out to the count of 5 or in to the count of 3 and out to the count of 6.

Stress is an inevitable part of life, and while we can’t control many of the stressors that happen in our lives, we can choose how we want to respond. Empower yourself with some of these techniques and try to do one nourishing thing each day for yourself to build your resilience.

If there is anything we can do to optimize your health and wellbeing, please reach out to

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