What is Resilience?
HeartMath® provides a definition of resilience that captures the essence of a broader understanding of what resilience is: Resilience is the capacity to prepare for, recover from and adapt in the face of stress, challenge or adversity.
The more resilient you are, the faster you are likely to bounce back from challenging situations and recoup. Building resilience means you have greater capacity to maintain your composure when challenged, make better decisions and be more adaptable.
However, to do this, you need to learn to manage and build your energy reserves.
Recharging Your Inner Battery
Using the analogy of having an inner battery to measure how much energy you have stored, will determine how you handle your day to day challenges. It makes sense that when you are fully charged you are going to operate at optimal levels, having more capacity to control your emotions, think clearly, stay focused and calm.
When your inner battery is depleted, you won’t have enough energy when you need it the most, even making simple tasks feel tough. Just like you charge your mobile phone when you see that the battery levels are dropping, you too need to charge your own ‘inner battery’.
When you find yourself in stressful situations, feelings of anger, resentment, frustration and anxiety will deplete your energy levels quickly. It is well known that stress produces the hormone cortisol which can stay in your system for many hours and impact on your ability to get restful sleep.
Even the accumulation of subtle feelings such as sadness, worry, guilt and impatience can add up to big energy drains at the end of the day.
When your energy levels are running low, you’re more likely to get irritable, frustrated, overwhelmed, angry, tearful, depressed and worst of all say or do something in the heat of the moment that you later regret.
Research shows that when you are stressed, this generates incoherent or chaotic signals in your heart rhythm. This limits the brain’s ability to process information and think clearly.
It therefore follows that emotions that renew your inner battery create coherence and depleting emotions create incoherence. Coherence is an important building block in creating and sustaining resilience. Coherence is a state that you can self- regulate.
How to build your resilience?
There are many things you can do to build your resilience. For example exercise, eat a balanced diet, practice mindfulness, meditate, go for walks in nature, journal and spend time with people who can support and nurture you.
There is also a technique called Heart-Focused Breathing™ which when practiced can take the charge out of a stressful situation and shift you into a more resilient state. This technique will begin to create coherent heart rhythms.
Heart focused breathing requires you to focus on the heart area and imagine your breath is flowing in and out of your heart or chest area, breathing slowly and deeper. It is suggested that you inhale for 5 seconds and exhale for 5 seconds. Alternatively find a rhythm that’s comfortable for you.
This is a key first step before adding other steps. Try it for a minute and then increase your time. It’s simple and effective and you can do it anywhere, anytime with your eyes open.
Practicing this simple technique has many benefits. It quickly takes the intensity out of the emotion I am feeling and moves me to a neutral and calmer place. It buys me time so I don't react and say or do something I'll regret. More importantly it presses the pause button on the feelings that are most likely to deplete my energy levels.
Over To You
Practice this breathing technique for just 5 minutes a day and notice the difference for yourself. Share your personal experience. Leave a comment in the box.