WEEK 1: Gratitude
According to Dr. Amit Sood, resiliency consists of four key areas: Gratitude, Mindful Presence, Kindness, and a Resilience Mindset. We will explore each of these in the month of August. For week one, we will start with Gratitude.
“Our brain struggles with focus, fatigue, and fear that causes stress and burnout, and depletes our resilience. Stronger attention that naturally focuses on positivity and gratitude helps build resilience.” The practice of gratitude (both giving and receiving - even seeing others practice it 😲 ) cultivates and promotes positive feelings, positive relationships, and emotional and physical well-being. One study even suggests that there may be long-term positive brain benefits. If so, then practicing gratitude could extend to more than just a momentary gain.
Practice Gratitude: For the next week, our challenge is to start with Morning Gratitude. Before you get out of bed, start your routine, and give in to the demands of the day, think of 5 people you appreciate and send them a silent gratitude. [Helpful Hing: Place a reminder post-it note on your bathroom mirror that says GRATITUDE 😊)
Next Level Challenge: You can choose to add one or more of the following: Write and share a grateful note, send a grateful text, call a friend or loved one, convert grateful feelings into action, or choose another way to bring gratitude in your life.
(Caution: There are times when gratitude is not helpful for our wellbeing; for example, towards an abuser or a manipulative person. Practice safe gratitude😉)
WEEK TWO: MINDFUL PRESENCE
According to Dr. Amit Sood, of Stress Management and Resiliency Training (SMART), “The brain notices what it finds of value (such as things that are interesting or threatening). Over time, what was once interesting and attractive loses novelty, and you notice it less. This weakens attention.”
Maybe this happens to you. For example, when you lose interest in listening to a song that you used to love or you find yourself absentmindedly eating without noticing the flavor of the food. This can also happen with our relationships and as we work, a sense of going through the motions, and, as a result, relationships and careers can be impacted.
You can improve your ability to be present and in the moment. Dr. Sood states that “practicing mindful presence enables you to regain novelty and focus on what is truly important and meaningful. This will strengthen your attention.”
PRACTICE: Here are a couple of suggestions that may help you increase a Mindful Presence.
- 2-MINUTE RULE: Give at least 2 MINUTES of undivided attention to someone in your life who deserves attention but isn't getting it. Do not try to improve or change the other person in that time.
- CURIOUS MOMENTS: Observe what's around you with a more engaged presence and a deeper sense of curiosity.
- 10-MINUTE BREAK: Mindfulness meditation made easy (from harvard.edu):
- Mindful meditation helps us learn to direct focus to our breathe, which we then can apply to other circumstances. If you are interested in trying it, here is a quick tutorial for you.
Settle in: Find a quiet space. Using a cushion or chair, sit up straight but not stiff; allow your head and shoulders to rest comfortably; place your hands on the tops of your legs with upper arms at your side.
Now breathe: Close your eyes, take a deep breath, and relax. Feel the fall and rise of your chest and the expansion and contraction of your belly. With each breath notice the coolness as it enters and the warmth as it exits. Don't control the breath but follow its natural flow.
Stay focused: Thoughts will try to pull your attention away from the breath. Notice them, but don't pass judgment. Gently return your focus to your breath. Some people count their breaths as a way to stay focused.
Take 10: A daily practice will provide the most benefits. It can be 10 minutes per day, however, 20 minutes twice a day is often recommended for maximum benefit.
WEEK THREE: KINDNESS TO YOURSELF AND TO OTHERS
KINDNESS: Maybe you’ve heard the saying “neurons that fire together, wire together.” As we continue to explore the SMART model of Stress Management and Resilience, we are reminded that when we use certain areas of the brain, we create stronger and better connections. We are in the process of developing neural pathways that can expand to neural highways of positive mental and behavioral habits.
Dr. Sood states that “By cultivating kind thoughts, you can change your brain’s innate wiring to move past the tendency toward negativity and fear.” This makes quite a bit of sense. It’s as if you are working the kindness muscle.
It stands to reason that when you are kind toward others, you become kinder toward yourself. Self-kindness can positively improve and nurture other aspects of your life. This is a good week to begin cultivating kind thoughts and let’s see what will blossom.
KIND ATTENTION: Assume most people you meet are unique and special, and that they are going through their own struggles (especially those you encounter who are difficult or challenging). Treat them with kind attention by sending them a silent good wish or prayer.
KINDNESS TO SELF: Self-kindness can take many forms, including:
- Limiting or regulating your intake of social media or negative news,
- Choosing to move/walk rather than sitting for prolonged periods of time,
- Focusing on one task at a time rather than engaging in mindless multitasking.
I like to think of Self-Kindness as either being a good friend to myself or a good parent to myself. What ideas do you have that could be Random Acts of Kindness to yourself? Try one each day and note the difference.
WEEK 4: RESILIENT MINDSET
Well, we are nearing the close of Wellness Month, but, as we all know, wellness is something essential to work towards every day.
You’ve already incorporated the first 3 areas toward Stress Management and Resiliency by putting Gratitude, Mindful Presence, and Kindness into practice. As we continue on our wellness journey, let’s focus on the 4th and final key area to learn, which is the Resilient Mindset.
This tree located in London is a symbol of resiliency. After falling over, it could have decided to give up and just let nature take its course. It responded differently though, it chose to continue to grow and thrive, despite the circumstances, and still allowed nature to take its course towards growth and life. Today this photo is circulated worldwide to represent resiliency.
A resilient mindset begins with our pattern of thinking. The same event can be thought of in many different ways with many possibilities. It depends on one’s mindset. Much of the way we experience or respond to an event depends on our values: what we believe is important in the way we live and work. Our values help us to measure how our life is turning out.
According to Dr. Sood, if you integrate the following five values into your mindset, you will cultivate and grow Resilient Thinking. These five (5) values are:
- Gratitude – Monday (Today 😊)
- Compassion - Tuesday
- Acceptance - Wednesday
- Meaning - Thursday
- Forgiveness - Friday
The behavioral health team plans to share something each day this week as a gentle motivator to focus on these values. Today is Gratitude, we’ve already spent some time on this one, but it bears repeating how important it is to our mental health, so my contribution to you, is to please enjoy this video on 21 ways to say thank you in different languages.
With much appreciation for who you are and all that you do,
P.S. – This week please be sure to download the Pacer app (https://www.mypacer.com/) . I will be sending the NAM group link later this week. Let’s make wellness part of who we are and let’s make it fun. 😊