I have always associated resilience with those tough-as-nails people who manage to navigate all of life’s adversities like pros. I used to think it was an intrinsic quality that you where either born with or not. Oh how was I mistaken! Many people will acquire resilience as a result of having gone though one of life’s traumas, but you do not have to wait until disaster hits to build resilience. There are simple mindfulness practices that will help you gradually develop the resilience you need, so that when you’re next faced with a little (or even a big) crisis your training will kick in and you can deal with your crisis with wisdom rather than panic. Below our five tried-and-true exercises to help you build resilience this second.
1 || Hand On Heart
This exercise is considered among the most powerful in terms of restoring the body’s sense of balance and calm. It is claimed to be powerful enough to calm down a panic attack in less than a minute. This exercise activates the parasympathetic nervous system, it restores the heart rate, and it releases oxytocin, which is the brain’s antidote to cortisol.
– Place your hands on your heart and breathe gently imagining that you’re breathing in a sense of safety.
– Remember a moment when you felt completely loved and cherished by another person. It could be your mom, a friend, a partner, or a therapist.
– Allow yourself to recall the exact feelings of that moment. Stay with these feelings for twenty to thirty seconds. Notice if there is any shift in your sense of safety.
– Repeat this exercise up to 5 times a day so that you can rewire your brain into remembering this pattern which will eventually become an automatic response in any difficult situation.
2 || Progressive Muscle Relaxation
This exercise is based on alternately tensing and relaxing a certain muscle group in an effort to relax your mind and body. Tense a muscle group, count for 7, and then relax that muscle group counting to 15 and repeat. When you relax the muscles for twice as long, you are teaching your body and brain to relax. This is a helpful exercise when you’re having trouble sleeping, and by counting you are also engaging the higher brain and training it to stop obsessing over thoughts and worries.
3 || Power Posing
This technique is great for when you need to shift yourself from an anxious stance to one of strength and calm. Stand tall with your feet firm on the ground. Lift your head and stretch your arms high up. If you’re a yoga fan you would recognise this as the mountain pose. Stand like that for a few seconds feeling the energy move up your spine, your arms, and up your head towards the sky. In a few seconds you should begin to feel the worry and tension dissipating. This pose can be utilised before any important event that’s making you anxious, be it a job interview or a court hearing.
4 || Box Breathing
This resilience practice is taught to firefighters and police officers so that they can use it when they go though a moment of ‘startle’. When we are startled, even if it’s a prank, our bodies and nervous systems react strongly to offer protection from presumed danger. This reaction is hard-wired in us and we cannot train ourselves out of it. But what we can do is to train our brain to become resilient in moments of ‘startle’ or presumed danger. The technique is very simple, you breath in for four counts, you hold the breath for the count of four, breath out for four, and hold again for four. And repeat a few times. This breathing technique regulates the nervous system while the counting trains our higher brain to be online. This will help us when we do face a serious situation, our brains would then have the ability to respond rather than react. So whenever you feel, scared, angry, panicked, or immobilised, practice box breathing for a few seconds to return to your safety zone so that you can go back to thinking clearly.
5 || Grip and Release
This exercise is almost similar to the progressive muscle relaxation technique. Slowly gather your hands into fists, and then release the tension by opening your palms. You should start to feel your inner state relaxing after doing this exercise a couple of times.