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Resilience - Part 4

Restored Resilience

In the final article on resilience, we will talk about ‘restored’ or ‘learned’ resilience.

Anyone can learn techniques that help build resilience and, as a result, restore the natural resilience we had as a child. Doing this can help us deal with past, present and future traumas in a healthy manner.

Stress and trauma can lower resilience over time, especially multiple repeated incidents of trauma. Trauma tends to lodge in the brain, leaving us on high alert or in fight or flight mode. This can continue to manifest, even if the trauma is no longer present.

Being in a constant state of trauma can be emotionally and physically draining.

Each of us is, in essence, hard-wired for survival. The brain is instinctively encoded to work to protect us and look out for us continually. While this may help in situations of  imminent peril, it doesn’t necessarily help us feel calm or relaxed right now.

Chronic stress can take a toll on our minds and body. Low-grade chronic stress can even lead to things like high blood pressure, increased muscle tension and an increased heart rate. (Harvard Medical School, 2011)

Doctor Herbert Benson, director at Massachusetts General Hospital, has devoted much of his career to learning how people can counter stress.

He recommends several techniques that can help elicit the relaxation response, which includes:

  • Deep abdominal breathing.
  • Visualising a tranquil scene like a beach or a park.
  • Engaging in prayer.
  • Doing something physical like Pilates.

The relaxation response is a simple exercise that we can learn that can help us counteract the toxic effects of chronic stress. It slows our breathing rate, relaxes our muscles and can even help reduce blood pressure.

As you commit to these techniques, you will find yourself becoming a more relaxed person and a more resilient one.