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Resilience can be life changing. Here’s why and how to cultivate it.

If there was one attribute we could all benefit from cultivating more of, I would have to say it is resilience. 

Not to be confused with endurance, resilience is our ability to adapt and respond to everything that happens in our lives—things we perceive at the time to be setbacks, challenges, disagreements, failures. Or it might be illnesses, infections, or other health-related issues. We all have varying levels of resilience and, of course, this will also change depending on how much or the magnitude of what it is we are facing, as well as our inner reserves, which can involve everything from our iron status to our progesterone production, from our sleep quality to our beliefs.  We may also be resilient in one way—such as physically—and struggle in other ways—with our emotional or mental fortitude, for example. 

Resilience doesn’t mean that we don’t fall apart, that we don’t feel sad or angry or that we don’t get sick every so often. It does mean that we bounce back relatively quickly or have the ability to keep functioning despite what is going on for us. The good news is, we can all work on becoming more resilient so even if, right now, you don’t feel it’s an accurate description of yourself, it is something you can change. 

Here are five ways to cultivate more resilience. 

1. Improve sleep

It’s harder to be resilient when you’re exhausted. Everything feels more difficult, you tend to be more reactive, more susceptible to colds and flus—plus, a lack of energy sucks all the colour out of life. If sleep is a challenge for you, or if you are waking up feeling unrestored despite getting 7-8 hours in bed, this will be a foundation to strengthening your resilience. Check out this sleep hygiene blog for some insights on what to do to improve your sleep. 

2. Speak with someone

Whether seeking an impartial perspective such as a therapist or talking with a loved one who you trust to hold space for you, talking things through with someone can make an amazing difference. Things have a way of getting bigger and bigger the longer they bounce around in our heads. Often, being able to verbalise what is going on for us and what we are struggling with helps to dismantle the power they have over us. Also, you have the benefit of a different perspective which can help you to reframe—if this is something that might be beneficial for you. 

3. Journal

Journaling can be a great alternative to speaking to someone else if that doesn’t appeal, and it can also go hand in hand with it. Again, getting things out of your head can make all the difference and it is also a wonderful tool for self-reflection. If staring at a blank page gives you writers block, try stream of consciousness writing where you set yourself a time (say 15min) and commit to writing anything that pops into your mind regardless of whether it makes sense or is grammatically correct. It can help to get you accustomed to writing out your thoughts. 

4. Understand your inner landscape

Explore the beliefs and values that are driving your unconscious mind and igniting your reactions to what happens. When we feel stressed or triggered, we tend to point the focus outside of ourselves—it’s what’s happening to us, how much is on our plate, the words that person said to us. Instead, use your stress, thoughts and emotional reactions to learn more about what is going on under the surface. This is something that takes practise and if you feel you are highly reactive/lack resilience, it may be worth working with a health professional to help you work through it. 

5. Eat mostly whole real foods

Nothing on this planet can replace a nourishing way of eating. Without sufficient nutrients, your body will become depleted and this can show up in a multitude of different symptoms depending on your unique biochemistry and your current health profile. Your body needs nutrients in order to be resilient and you need your body to be resilient to strengthen your mental and emotional fortitude. 

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