How You Can Develop Resilience

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Have you ever wondered why some people are able to cope with distress more ably than others?  This subject has always fascinated me as I do a lot of work around strengthening resilience with clients who come to me for support.  Resilience can be described as the ability to bounce back or recover quickly from setbacks.  It’s actually all about your ‘survive and thrive’ instinct and it develops from the start of your life as your brain processes or learns from experiences to keep you safe and alive.

You learn your earliest strategies of resilience in infancy, through interacting with your parents, caregivers, and others who are close and influential to you.  Attachment theory provides an explanation of how the parent-child relationship emerges and influences subsequent development.  In the 1950’s British psychoanalyst John Bowlby’s theory of attachment showed that as babies, fear drives us to seek reassurance and protection from someone who is older, wiser, stronger and able to help.  He found that ‘early attachment bonds with parents affect the formation of our “internal working model” of self in relation to others.’ 

In other words the way that parents respond to their baby encodes into its brain the internal working models and rules of coping by 12-18 months of age.  So when a parent repeatedly responds sensitively and appropriately to the baby’s needs by smiling, holding them gently, and speaking empathically to them, this forms the basis for an attachment that is safe and trusting.  If parents repeatedly respond calmly to a baby’s cry, changing their nappy and feeding them, the baby learns to soothe itself.  The baby learns that when it calls for help, that call is answered and solutions to problems do exist.  The baby gets a sense that “I am important.  I matter.  I am loved.”  This is fundamental in establishing the basic patterns of resilience.   As that child grows and develops it feels valued and understood which leads it to trust its own competence and cultivate the ability to bounce back.  As the child matures and continues to learn strategies for communicating its needs, and more importantly, feels deserving of having those needs met, they feel the bonds of trust and love.  These patterns of response then become the brains template for their lifetime.
 
What we have to bear in mind is that our parents didn’t always get it right and did the best they could with the knowledge and experience they had at the time.  They also would have gained that experience and learnt their coping strategies from their parents and so on and so on. Fortunately, you have an innate capacity for continuing development of resilience and you can change old patterns of response.  So if you did not initially learn these patterns of response for developing resiliency, as you grow older and become an independent adult you have more and more opportunities to learn this through interacting with other resilient people: role models from life, history and literature, peers, mentors, teachers, partners, therapists, coaches, etc.  Over your lifetime through interactions with the above people you can learn how to think outside the box, solve problems more efficiently and handle disappointments and upsets more capably. 

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Neuroscientist Donald Hebb said: “Neurons that fire together wire together.”  This means that each time you have an experience, good or bad, whether it is an external event (something that happens), or an internal response to the event (your feelings and reaction) the neurons in your brain fire to send electrical and chemical messages which reinforce pathways in the brain.  As an experience is repeated the neurons that fired together to create the pathway tend to fire together again, strengthening that pathway and this prepares the brain to respond in the same way each time it encounters a similar situation, creating stronger patterns of response, or wiring.

When you repeat a pattern often enough this is what neuroscientists call conditioning. Conditioning creates automatic habits and stores those patterns of response in your unconscious memory enabling you to respond automatically.  We can deliberately use conditioning to create positive habits of resilience.  For example you can choose experiences to deliberately rewire your brain to cope better.  Although the initial wiring of your brain is based on early experiences, your later experiences (especially healthy relational ones) can undo and overwrite your early learning.    It is from your experiences with others that you learn how to calm your nervous system, remain level headed in times of crisis, trust yourself to make good choices, and use your resources wisely to increase your options for coping. 

This is where my skill as a coach can be restorative in helping to change insecure attachment bonds by providing unconditional support to my clients.  By offering a quiet, non-judgmental space and deep listening I will support you to access your deep-rooted patterns of response that formed early on and assist you to reform new and more beneficial patterns of resilience.

It is helpful to remember that it is not the external trigger, but rather your internal response that is important for resilience.  You will find that often you cannot change the external trigger that creates stress, but you can do something to change your internal responses to those stressors.  You can learn to rewire old patterns of response into new, more helpful patterns that will enable you to cope differently and more resiliently to anything.

Wishing you well

Caroline x

 

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Posted in Body & Soul, Mind, Positive Thinking, Resilience, Self-Care, Self-Esteem, Stress Relief, Wellbeing | Leave a comment

Your Gut and Your Mind Work Together

An important part of my approach in working with my clients to help them to reduce their stress levels is teaching them about their mind-body connection.  When you think about something stressful you get that feeling of butterflies in your stomach, or when you have to make a decision you are often asked “What is your gut feeling about it?”

Your gut and your mind are connected so they affect each other.  Did you know that your gut is known as the second brain?  This is because your gastro-intestinal tract makes over 90% of your body’s serotonin (a neurotransmitter that regulates mood, sleep, anxiety, depression and more).  We are 99% bacteria, so maintaining the ideal balance of good and bad bacteria forms the foundation for good health—physical, mental and emotional.  If your microbiome – made up of a hundred trillion bacteria – is out of balance, you are likely to end up anxious and/or depressed, suffering from fatigue, poor memory and brain fog.

Your beneficial gut bacteria are easily disturbed and affected by stress.  Medications (especially antibiotics and antacids), contraceptive pills, toxins and chemicals taken in through our food, drink, and other environmental influences all damage the composition of our gut flora.  The proliferation of good bacteria in our microbiome helps us to restore good gut health and heal symptoms such as fatigue, anxiety, depression, headaches, acne, eczema, colds, infections, joint and muscle pain.  If you want better immunity, efficient digestion, improved clarity and balance, focus on rebuilding your gut health by making your own probiotic-rich fermented veggies (kimchi) and microbial-rich cultured milk (kefir) and incorporate them into your daily diet.  Below is some more information on how you can easily do this.

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Kimchi (cultured vegetables)

In Korea kimchi is the national dish.  These cultured vegetables are loaded with beneficial bacteria that clean up your intestines, aid digestion, eliminate toxins, control sugar cravings and restore and maintain a healthy inner ecosystem.

It’s easy and cheap to make your own probiotic-rich fermented veggies at home in just three simple steps: chop, salt, and wait.

Ingredients

800 grams of Organic cabbage and carrots shredded

12 grams Himalayan pink salt and some chilli or mustard seeds (optional)

 

Preparation

  • In a large bowl combine the salt, shredded cabbage and carrot.  Mix well with your hands.
  • Cover the bowl and let it sit at room temperature until you begin to notice the salt drawing the liquid out of the veggies. Once you notice a layer of water in the bottom of the bowl, you can spoon this mixture into a jar. Use an airtight container that seals with a rubber or plastic ring and a clamp-down lid.
  • Tightly pack the mixture into the jar, push it down with your fist or the back of a wooden spoon, so that it is just covered with its own brine and leave a 2 inch gap at the top of the jar. Top up with water if necessary.
  • Seal the jar and allow it to ferment for 2 weeks. In the summer the veggies may culture faster so you can begin tasting after 4-6 days – it is done when it tastes sour like sauerkraut, rather than salty.
  • Then refrigerate and it will last in the fridge for months.

 

Just a spoonful a day is more powerful than a whole bottle of probiotic supplements!

 

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Kefir in Turkish means to “feel good”

Kefir is cultured milk that is a microbial-rich food that helps to restore your body’s inner ecology.  It can be made from any type of fresh milk and once cultured, it has a more tart taste and the finished product is thicker like drinking yoghurt.

Kefir is an excellent source of vitamin B-12 and tryptophan (an essential amino acid) which combined with the calcium and magnesium calms your nervous system.  The body converts tryptophan into serotonin (the brain chemical linked to mood) and balanced serotonin levels can induce sleep, prevent waking during the night, cure constipation and depression.  Kefir is also rich in vitamin B-1 (thiamine) which is known as the “morale vitamin” because of its beneficial effects on the nervous system and on mental attitude.

To Make Kefir

  • Buy the freeze dried starter cultures made from kefir grains from your local wholefoods or health shop. Each sachet makes 1 litre of kefir.
  • You can use any choice of fresh milk – cows, goats, lacto-free or soya. You can also make fizzy kefir with coconut water or grape juice.
  • Slowly add the milk to the sachet to form a smooth paste and gradually add the rest of the milk stirring very well for a few minutes (I prefer to use my electric mixer).
  • Pour this mixture back into the milk bottle or any other 1 litre container.
  • Let it sit at room temperature for around 12 hours or more until the mixture thickens like yoghurt. You’ll know the kefir is set when you can stand a toothpick up in it.
  • Refrigerate for around 6 hours and drink chilled. Once you’ve poured yourself a glass stir it gently to give a smoother consistency.
  • Consume within 4 days. Make a fresh batch every few days.

You can also buy kefir from your local health shop or order it from Abel and Cole in the UK.

Taking the time to commit to creating good health for yourself by rebuilding your gut health is a vital part of your self-care.  The more you take care of yourself, the more you come back into balance.

Take good care

Caroline x

 

 

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10 Questions You Need To Ask

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If you do what you’ve always done, you’ll get what you’ve always got.

Here are 10 thought provoking questions you can ask yourself as you approach the end of the year.

  1. What one thing have I not done that I really want to do and what’s holding me back?
  2. At what time in my recent past have I felt most passionate and alive?
  3. Where have I been forcing myself to heal faster than what feels right?
  4. What would I do differently if I knew nobody would judge me?
  5. What have I learnt from my mistakes?
  6. What signs have I been misinterpreting or ignoring?
  7. How have I been cheating on my future by thinking thoughts of my past?
  8. Where have I been focusing too much on the outcome?
  9. How is life asking me to grow right now and what am I committed to changing?
  10. What can I do with my current limitations?

 

Sometimes just asking the right question is the answer.

I wish you a very peaceful and restful festive season.

Caroline x

 

Posted in Meditation, Mind, Mind, Body & Soul, Positive Thinking, Self-Care, Self-Esteem, Stress Relief, Wellbeing | Leave a comment