What is emotional resilience? How it helps and how to feel it now
We are living in times when we are being required to dig deep to find ways to cope with life. Even an ordinary day can be filled with so many challenges it can feel like tackling an assault course. And then on the extra difficult days, it can all be a tsunami of overwhelm.
How do we help ourselves with this?
There is something that will make a big difference which you can start to do now. You can build your emotional resilience.
Even though I am going to share a process that you can do straight away which will bring you immediate benefits, building emotional resilience isn’t a magic wand that will change everything overnight. It’s a steady process which develops over time that you can come to rely on, feeling stronger each day.
- Helps us handle stress and be less impacted by it.
- Gives us the ability to bounce back rather than collapse when we are faced with challenges.
- Helps us thrive in life rather than feel overwhelmed.
- Helps us feel confident that we will able to handle whatever is on our path.
- Supports us to persevere rather than give up.
- Empowers us to show up in ways that are authentic and real.
- Shifts us out of limiting defensive patterns and into more creative possibilities.
- Helps us feel we are in command of our life rather than at the mercy of it.
In fact, this list of benefits could be longer, but I think you get the picture that emotional resilience is a way to manage yourself, your energy and your life, so you can respond in ways you choose, even at life’s most difficult times. This means you can shift out of fire-fighting and into creating a life that is fulfilling and successful.
Our emotional resilience is influenced by some baseline factors such as gender, age and the level of trauma we might have experienced, for example. As a result, some people have a level of natural resilience. But for most people, it can be developed. There are several ways to do that which weave together to enable you to live life to the full.
Some of the ways that we build resilience include mindfulness practices, building connection with others, finding meaning in life, maintaining well-being, and managing our thoughts - to mention a few. So this isn’t a quick fix – it’s more of a journey where each step builds on the last.
I’m going to share one way to get you started on that journey which you can do now and feel benefits straight away.
I call it…
Breathe yourself into emotional resilience
This is drawn from the work of the HeartMath Institute who have conducted a vast amount of scientific studies on how to build and maintain resilience. They have found that this simple breathing process takes us into a state they call coherence which gives us a strong foundation for physical, emotional and mental resilience. You can check out the work of the HeartMath Institute at heartmath.org
To breathe yourself into emotional resilience follow these steps:
- Bring your attention to the centre of your chest.
- Begin to breathe with even, balanced breaths as if in and out of your heart area.
- Find a balanced, even rhythm of breathing that suits you, with a regular count of in and out breaths at the same pace. For example in for a count of five and out for five.
- Continue this breath as if in and out of your heart area.
- While you do that brings to your attention something that makes you smile.
- Feel that smile rise up to your face and expand out of your heart.
- Feel the smile carried on your regular, even heart-focused breath.
These few steps are deceptively simple, but also gently powerful. When you practise this heart-focused breathing while being aware of something that brings a genuine smile to your face – you are triggering a cascade of benefits to your whole being.
You are balancing your nervous system, boosting your immune system and supporting your digestive system. You are deactivating the adrenaline flooding stress response and activating the calm and connect response. You are lighting up the higher reasoning centres of your brain that help you think with clarity and insight. You are switching on your ability to experience positive emotions that continue to uplift and strengthen your whole system.
You are becoming more resilient with every heart focused breath.
Again this is just one of the many ways that you can become more resilient. I particularly love it because it can be done alongside any other thing that you want to support yourself with. It can be done any time, even in the middle of a challenge… in fact, especially then. And as you do it regularly, you will build a baseline of resilience in your system which gradually, step by step, will change you the way you experience your life.
You will find that when you are facing stressful challenges you can still think clearly, your system doesn’t shut down or collapse into overwhelm and you bounce back more quickly.
And then, when times are calmer and stress-free you will find that you are more buoyant, responsive, engaged in life and all-round happier.
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