You Are A Survivor
You Are A Survivor
YOU, my friend, are full of goodness, strength, and resilience. You have survived the worst things that have ever happened to you, and you are stronger for it.
While it would be nice if it was smooth sailing from here on out, we know that life will continue to throw us curveballs. Fortunately, you don’t have to wait for a major setback or traumatic event to build resilience. As research for my newest book Mind Over Moment: Harness the Power of Resilience, I spent a lot of time learning what helps develop and maintain resilience and have boiled it down to three main areas:
Your mindset, skillset, and your ability to reset.
Mindset: Your brain is a survival machine! It will protect you from threats big and small, but to do that, it is always on the lookout for what’s wrong. Left to its own devices, your brain will make you miserable. To build a resilient mindset, understand that your brain gravitates toward the negative, telling you stories of how stressed you are and how hard life can be. While that may be true, none of those things are serving you.
Take your habits for example. How many of your habits support your mental well-being and how many sabotage it? The goal is not to change everything at once (your brain views change as a threat). Instead, pick one habit that will move you in the right direction. Remember, your mindset is a belief system, and your beliefs drive your behavior. The good news is that beliefs can be changed.
Skillset: While it seems counterintuitive, rather than focus on reducing stress, focus on increasing positive emotions. It has the same effect and helps to offset your brain’s negativity bias. Positive emotions let your brain know it’s safe. Here are just a few ways to cultivate positive emotions:
–Gratitude. Thousands of scientific studies have shown that practicing gratitude on a regular basis lowers blood pressure, reduces inflammation, improves heart health and sleep, improves decision making and problem solving, and lowers our levels of stress. The benefits are almost immediate. You don’t even have to find anything to be grateful for. The simple act of looking releases the feel-good neurochemicals serotonin and dopamine and lowers the stress hormone cortisol by 23%.
–Optimism. Aside from lowering cortisol and increasing dopamine and serotonin, people who practice optimism have fewer aches and pains, along with better physical and mental health. It has also been linked with higher income and more successful relationships. One of my favorite quotes about optimism is from Simon Sinek. He said, “Optimism is not wearing rose-colored glasses. Optimism is the belief that things will get better. That we will find a way to get out of it.” It is easier said than done when you’re in the middle of it, but choosing optimism means you are deliberate about the way you interpret the adversity in your life. Every situation, especially the cruddy ones, provides an opportunity to challenge our self-defeating, negative thoughts.
–Mindfulness is simply being where you are when you’re there. Mindfulness trains your mind to focus on the moment instead of worrying about what occurred in the past or what might happen in the future. This makes you less likely to hit the panic button, and reverses stress-related changes in the brain.
–Laughter is good for your soul and your brain. Studies show a genuine smile (one that involves facial muscles around the eyes) sparks a change in brain activity related to a good mood. Laughter lowers blood pressure, cooling your heart and calming your nervous system.
–Social connection is the greatest predictor of longevity. Surround yourself with people that lift you up, celebrate, and laugh with you.
-Make joy a priority. When planning your week, include activities that bring you joy. These are often the things that fall to the bottom of our to-do list, but cultivating joy provides the mental energy to get everything else done.
Reset: When you face a threat (real or perceived), your sympathetic nervous system kicks in to protect you. When you spend enough time there, it becomes your default way of thinking and behaving. Reset your nervous system by taking three, deep diaphragmatic breaths. Regulating your breathing sends a signal to your brain that you are safe.
A reset is also about is getting out of being busy and focusing on your high-payoff activities. A high-payoff activity is an activity that brings the greatest result for the time invested. Twenty percent of the tasks that we do on any given day generate 80 percent of our results. By identifying the tasks and responsibilities that bring the greatest return for time invested, you can focus on planning and prioritizing these activities.
Finally, a reset is about perspective. What is most important in your life and does the way you spend your time reflect that? Take the time to make sure your actions match your intentions.
Just like anything else, knowing what builds resilience isn’t enough. You have to actively practice these skills. When life knocks you down, or you think you don’t have what it takes to bounce back, remember, you have survived every obstacle you’ve been presented with. YOU’VE GOT THIS.
Stay brave and resilient,
Anne Grady is a Speaker, Author, and #TruthBomb Dropper.
Anne shares practical strategies that can be applied both personally and professionally to improve relationships, navigate change, and triumph over adversity. And she’ll make you laugh while she does it. Anne is a two time TEDx speaker, and her work has been featured in numerous media outlets, including Harvard Business Review, Entrepreneur, Forbes, Fast Company and Inc. magazines, CNN, ESPN, and FOX Business. She is the best selling author of 52 Strategies for Life, Love & Work and Strong Enough: Choosing Courage, Resilience and Triumph.