Many of us are experiencing a general feeling of unease as we transition into the fall season and continue managing our lives during such stressful times – the COVID pandemic, political divisiveness, economic uncertainty, back to school challenges, and racial injustice. Everyone seems to be a bit on edge and these tough times call for cultivating the skill of resilience.
What is resilience? Resilience is the ability to be with and manage difficult situations while remaining grounded and calm versus being in reactive mode. According to Rick Hanson, PhD, author of Resilient: How to Grow an Unshakable Core of Calm, Strength, and Happiness, resilience helps us recover from loss and trauma, as well as foster well–being and an underlying sense of happiness, love, and peace. Resiliency is the ability to bounce back from adversity. The good news is that everyone has the capacity to cultivate resiliency.
I’d like to share a tool and some tips that my clients have found useful to help them be more resilient, that is show up calm, grounded, and able to stay connected to others. The tool is called the Zone of Resilience (or Window of Tolerance). Click here to see the model. Tips are outlined below, so keep reading!
What is the Zone of Resilience (ZOR)? Why do I want to be in it? What does it look like to be outside of it? When we are inside the ZOR (click here for model, also called WOT) we are calm, cool, collected, and easily able to connect with ourselves and others. When we are outside of our ZOR, we experience two trigger states: hyper-arousal or hypo-arousal. Hyper-arousal is a fight/flight response and symptoms include anxiety, being overwhelmed, rigidness, chaos, anger, aggression, rigidness, OCD, and addiction. Hypo-arousal is a freeze response and symptoms include dissociation, memory loss, flat emotions, numbness, unavailability, and not being present.
I am outside my ZOR how do I do to come back to center and a more balanced state? When we are outside of the window, it is not cognitive, it is physiological. Which means we cannot think our way back, we often have to do something to up regulate or down regulate our nervous system in order to return to our ZOR, an emotionally regulated, calm, cool, collected, and connected state. We all have periods where we are outside of the ZOR (it is part of the human condition) but we need to be aware when we are triggered and take steps to self–regulate in order to return to our ZOR.
Tips for staying in or getting back to the Zone of Resilience (ZOR)
- Take the One Minute Pause. Click here to learn more.
- Breathe. Deep, slow breathing exercises. Practice taking ten, slow deep breaths, try straw breath. Click here for straw breathing with Fleet Maull.
- Not Getting Over Alarmed, Cultivate Positive Emotions, Focus on What You Have Influence Over. Click here to learn more.
- Acceptance for What Is. The more we resist the way things are, the more suffering we will incur. Click here to read this recent NY Times article Stop Expecting Life to Go Back to Normal Next Year.
- Journal. Click here to learn Why 20 minutes of Journaling Makes All the Difference by Ari Weinzweig of Zingerman’s.
- Meditate. Practices like the body scan help manage stress and can help with sleep. Click here to learn more.
- Express Gratitude. Click here to watch and listen to one of my favorite gratitude meditations (6 minutes)
- Take Sleep Seriously. Click here for learn more.
- Find Your Peeps! Spend time with individuals who nurture you and make you feel good. Be careful about spending time with toxic individuals and have a process for dealing with difficult individuals. Click here for more information about how to deal with difficult and toxic individuals.
- Other activities clients engage in to cultivate resiliency include exercising, being in nature, painting, cooking, baking, star gazing, taking breaks from technology and the news, and tending to flowers and plants.
If you would like to join my free weekly community mindfulness meditation practice via Zoom on Mondays at 7p EST, please email to learn more and sign up!