The ability to bounce back from stress or adversity is important throughout life, especially in our later years. That's when we face many transitions, such as health problems; job, income, and home changes; the loss of loved ones; and isolation or separation from friends, grown children, and grandchildren. How we adjust to these changes helps determine what life will look like moving forward.
The Benefits of Resilience
Coping with stress in a positive way is known as resilience, and it has many health benefits. It's associated with longevity, lower rates of depression, and greater satisfaction with life. Likewise, a lack of resilience means that you may not handle stress well in difficult situations. Chronic stress is associated with harmful health consequences such as high blood pressure, a weakened immune system, anxiety, depression, insomnia, heartburn, indigestion, and heart disease.
Some people are born resilient, like a child who falls down and hops right back up without crying. If that's not you, take heart: resilience is a skill that you can learn and improve upon every day.
Meditate. Practicing a meditation technique counters stress by eliciting the relaxation response, which helps lower blood pressure, heart rate, breathing rate, oxygen consumption, and stress hormones. Enhance the response with yoga!
Reframe your situation. See the upside rather than the downside of a problem. For example, if you're sad that your grown child isn't communicating as often as you'd like, try instead to be proud and happy that you raised your child to become an independent adult.
Lean on your social network. Friends and family are important stress buffers. Sometimes all you need is a chat with a friend over a cup of tea to make things better!
Cultivate positive thinking. When you're stressed, it's easy to think about what's wrong. Think about 3 things that are going well instead.
Laugh more. Laughing can decrease stress hormones and boost the immune system. Try watching a funny movie, reading a funny book, or even forcing yourself to laugh. We took a class on “Laughter Yoga” at Yogaville in Virginia!
Be optimistic. Think of a positive outcome, not a negative one. Consider an upcoming situation, and visualize the positive qualities you want to bring to it.
Make It A Habit
Work on one or several of these resilience-boosting skills every day. The more you practice them, the better you'll become at dealing with stress. Good Luck!
The Namaste From NiMaSte Blog is written by the Nimaste Yoga staff.