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.