How to Develop Greater Resilience when Hard Times Hit
Hi, I am Judith, the ‘working mom next door’. For two decades, I have been ‘juggling’ family, work, and lifestyle. As a mother, I often reached my limits, especially during the years as a single mom. Thus, I know what it means
- to feel fatigued,
- to feel burned out,
- to suffer from a lack of energy,
- or to have your hormones out of whack.
Frankly, from a medical point of view, none of those symptoms were severe in my case. Nevertheless, they were still unpleasant enough to do something about it. Thus began my journey to learn all I could about nutrition, self-awareness, and mindfulness. Today, I feel physically and mentally stronger than ever. I now see a crisis as a chance to ‘grow’ by becoming more flexible and resistant. Often in life, I have come across ‘winds of change’. Now I am aware, that I can perceive change as a threat or a chance. It’s up to me.
“When the winds of change blow, some people build shelters and others build windmills.” — Chinese proverb
Crisis — Threat or Chance?
The pandemic of 2020 was such unexpected ‘wind’ that hit us out of the blue! For many, it struck us like a sudden tornado, completely uprooting our lives. It has created lasting economic challenges for many countries, companies, and most importantly people: We fear for our health, our jobs, our security, our freedom… Now, our resilience is being put to the test. The truth is, many of the changes we saw coming, have now accelerated big time. I would say, collectively we are being thrown into ice-cold water.
Do I Catch a Cold from an Ice-Bath, or Does it Make me Stronger?
The popular method of Wim Hof, the Iceman, has become the ultimate resilience-hack. Before diving into icy water, I highly recommend getting appropriate training. One form of preparation consists of specific breathing exercises, that enable the body to better withstand the ‘shock-experience’. Done appropriately, ice-bathing can boost your immune system and give you an energy kick. However, if you have the perception that freezing water gives you a nasty cold, guess what, you might prove yourself right. If you want a deeper understanding of the science behind breathwork and the effect of cold baths, I recommend watching this Video.
4 Quick but Effective Activities to Boost Energy and Mental Health
I guess the Wim Hof Method is currently at the peak of its popularity. Please keep in mind that strong breathing and ice-baths need to be conducted with caution in order to prevent any harm. Luckily there are safer and easier ways to pump up your health. Here are a few daily activities that have a detoxing, and even toning effect on your body. Additionally, they have an uplifting effect on your mind and boost your energy:
- deep breathing: strong deep breathing (hyperventilation), followed by slow deep breathing (hypoventilation)
- taking a 20-second cold shower, after a hot morning shower
- practicing HIIT workouts at home (High-Intensity Interval Training), check out 12-Min PACE
- trampoline jumping in the morning (NASA Studies Rebounding)
Is There Such Thing as Healthy Stress?
Unfortunately, there is also ‘under-cover’ stress that we often do not even recognize. It is what keeps us running in high gear in our fast-paced society. We seem to be constantly in overdrive. It is like being chased by a tiger non-stop. Often, we do not allow ourselves to take deliberate recovery-breaks to keep our nervous system on an even keel and thus maintain a healthy balance. We have even lost that sense of living in sync with our circadian rhythm, which is meant to keep our stress-induced hormones in balance.
Handling our energy and our resources is all about balance. A bit of adrenalin kick, followed by recovery (in rest-and-digest mode), is just the kind of ‘micro-crisis’ our body needs to promote brain-derived neurotrophic growth factor (BDNF). According to numerous studies, positive stress, like exercise-induced stress from HIIT (High-Intensity Interval Training), can — according to numerous studies — promote the growth of beneficial BDNF.
The Power of Recovery
In order to keep physically and mentally fit, we need to keep active. Having said that, before you ‘chase that tiger’, you have to properly prepare yourself with the right training. Finally, you deserve recovery. Our body will always long for equilibrium. If you are familiar with heavy workouts, you know it is safe, to begin with, a warm-up session and give yourself a recovery break afterwards.
A few years ago I worked-out almost daily for a couple of months. We then went seaside for a few weeks. When I returned back to Austria, friends would ask me, why I had built so toned muscles. No, I didn´t train for a triathlon in Spain. But instead, I gave my body a break. The anabolic effect of the parasympathetic nervous system arranged the rest.
Our body and mind can withstand a lot of pressure. We are pretty robust, but constant stress is an enemy to our resilience. It weakens our immune system, our physical and mental health, as well as our cognitive function. Now, when you add emotional stress to chronic stress, you might hit the roof. The crises that hit us with the beginning of the pandemic, has become a continuous emotional threat from many perspectives. ‘Stress’ is so omnipresent, you can almost smell it! On the other hand, it is no surprise that resilience has become the latest buzzword in 2020.
Resilience — The Art of Being Strong, No Matter the Weather
Stress relief and resilience for body and mind, have been my focus for years. I have been digging deeper into what it takes to withstand pressure and how you can become even stronger when crises hit you. Learn to adapt to changes with the least resistance. Strengthen your roots, by boosting your gut health and mental health. Nevertheless, I am happy that I now have got the tools to:
- boost immunity
- boost energy and mental health
- boost performance and productivity
Now, I have got a request for you, dear reader! In order to meet your needs, and create valuable content, please help me to find out where life is challenging you at the moment. What you need to become stronger and withstand the winds of change we are facing in 2021? I will dive deeper into following questions:
- Do you feel overwhelmed by daily demands? If yes, do you manage to turn the perceived ‘tiger’ into a ‘cuddly kitten’?
- Do you practice stress relief activities, like meditation? Maybe you would like to, but you cannot get your head around it. What lets you down? What keeps you from doing what’s best for you?
- Are you aware of the effect the gut-brain connection has on your mind?
Feel free to reach out to me and share your pains (or even gains) on this topic. You can simply leave a comment here or send me a message via my website:
A healthy belly meets a healthy brain. Boost gut health, fuel your mind, and prepare for greater resilience, to be ready when hard times hit. Let mindfulness-based stress reduction & microbiome-friendly food keep you smiling!