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Resiliency is a current hot topic and you may wonder do I have enough resiliency, do I need more and how can I build my resiliency?  Maybe we should start with a definition of resiliency. Some definitions say resiliency is the capacity to recover quickly from difficulties; toughness, the ability of an object to spring back into shape; elasticity, the ability to recover readily from illness, depression, adversity, or the like; buoyancy and adaptation in the face of adversity, trauma, tragedy, threats or stress: family/relationship problems, health problems or workplace/money issues, are a few that  I found. Now the next consideration is are you tough, adaptable, have buoyancy and elasticity? How do you get more.

I think one of the basic steps to greater resiliency is self care. Basic self care is eating, sleeping and exercise and additionally, extended self care is physical, emotional, psychological, social and spiritual well being. All of these components give us complete self care and added resilience. Lets explore these further individually.

Healthy eating 3 times a day with a couple of snacks is a start of good self care. Our brain functions best with regular nutrition and the brain controls our whole body so this is important. Having a complete diet as per the Canada Food Guide gives us the protein, vegetables, fats, fruits, carbohydrates and vitamins needed to help our brain function.

Sleep is important as our body functions best if a regular rest period is in place. Exercise keeps every body function moving, along with muscles and the skeletal system. The brain requires rest for dreaming and exercise for stimulation.

Extended self care includes physical which is exercise and other activities such as work, play and many productive functions such as gardening, household activities and creative functions. The more satisfied you are creatively along with variety for interest and satisfaction, the more resilience you build.

Emotional expression is part of extended self care and keeps us fulfilled as we express all of our emotions fully. Suppression of one or two emotions tends to work on suppression of all the emotions after a period of time and does not lead to a fulfilled life. Many people believe that suppressing their emotions makes them stronger however strength lies in the full expression of emotions.

Social well being includes the relationships we have with others both healthy and unhealthy, as both can help us grow. Social support occurs from our healthy relationships. Unhealthy relationships can bring us awareness of areas where we need change or growth. Pay attention to both as they are both valuable.

Psychological resilience is the ability to mentally or emotionally manage crisis with the ability to return to pre-crisis levels quickly. Returning from negative to positive mindset and learning from the experience is psychological resilience. When your mind goes to negative thoughts think of 2-3 positives around the same situation. Eventually your thoughts will go to the positive as the positives are there.

Finally spiritual resilience is the ability to be in an expanded state of being such that your love and caring extends beyond your family and friends and to all humanity and the universe. Can you feel love and compassion for your enemy?

Dr. Dan Siegel developed the Triangle of Well-being and Resilience model, and with this model, he talks about how our thoughts and experiences shape the physical connections between the various parts of our brain.  The points in his triangle are mind, brain and relationships, with arrows in all directions as a continual loop is formed between the mind, brain and relationships, with our experiences. This change capacity is the relatively new idea defined as neuroplasticity. These connections form, who we are with beginnings from infancy with secure attachments to our loved ones. This type of security allows the brain to build good connections between the prefrontal cortex which is the reasoning part of the brain with the mid brain structures which involves emotions, their regulation, memory encoding, body awareness and empathy development, according to Dan Siegel. If our needs were met by our parents, secure attachment results and this defines or sets us up unconsciously for more resilience in general providing our life remains stable. If you have had trauma in your life that wounded part of you will struggle but working with a therapist, focusing on your strengths, reading books, groups-online and other resources online can help you heal and develop greater resilience.

Maybe Covid has given us an opportunity to reflect on our lives as we have more time alone in our isolation.  Maybe now is the time to develop more resiliency. Maybe you are able to handle challenges just fine. Do you bounce back from hard times or do you tend to collapse and have a hard time. Are you tough, adaptable, have buoyancy and elasticity? Think about these things and maybe now is the time for action.

Irene Haire, MC, RCAT Registered Provisional Psychologist with an Art Therapy Specialty is in private practice in Edmonton at The Belmead  Professional Centre 218-8944-182 St Edmonton, Ab T5T 2E3 780-232-1055 web: www.edmont.onpsychologistpros.com   E-mail  info@edmontonpsychologistpros.com