The Joy Factor and Resilience - Part 4
So this is our last stop in this four part-blog series on building resilience. Check these other blog posts out to read more about:
the connection between joy and resilience
how building relationships and contributing support resilience
how building mastery and engaging an attitude of gratitude are life changers
As our final stop on this journey toward building resilience I want to provide you with some foundational ideas. I know you usually lay the foundation first, but I want to round back to this as a way to close out this series.
As an individual therapist one of the biggest problems I see my client’s face is a lack of self care. Like basic self-care. Showering, taking medication on time and consistently, balanced eating, restful sleeping, regular pooping (I’m the mother of three boys so I’ve been desensitized to all poop talk), and attending regular doctors appointments (from yearly checkups to dentist appointments). Either life just gets in the way or they simply didn’t learn to take care of themselves. The basics are so important. So important, in fact, that if we don’t do them, we’ll suffer greatly, as will those around us.
It is a lot like the pre-flight instruction we’re given by the flight attendants. “Should the oxygen masks deploy, place the mask on yourself first before helping someone else with their mask”. The idea being… you’ll be no good to anyone else if you’re passed out in the aisle. Same holds true in real life. We are no good to anyone in a crisis if we’re passed out in the "aisle of life” due to lack of oxygen - oxygen being self care (in this case).
So what can we do about it. Well, acronyms are great place to start. There are a plethora of ways to remember how to care for yourself. Here’s a list:
PLEASE (we’ll go over this one in detail)
HALT (Hungry, Angry, Lonely, Tired)
SEEM (Sleep, Eat, Exercise, Meds)
GRAPE (Gentleness, Relaxation, Accomplishment, Pleasure, Exercise, Social)
BREADS (a dual acronym for psychological and physiological well-being)
SELF-RESPECT (Set goals, Exercise, Love yourself, Focus on fitness, Rest, Eat right, Smile, Portray positive, Enjoy life, Care for others, Tell yourself “you can do this”)
In this post I’m going to cover Dialectic Behavior Therapy’s PLEASE acronym. The acronym is a bit of a stretch but it still works. Check it out…
PL stands for PhysicaL wellness. See what they did there with the P and the L? Pretty clever, huh? Ok, so maybe not, but it still makes the important point. And that is… are you attending doctors appointments, getting to your dentist appointments and eye care exams? If not, it's time to get on the horn and set those puppies up, and then go to them. Taking medications regularly is another important aspect of physical wellness. Many medications require consistent daily dosage or it messes up your body chemistry. So make sure you’re taking medications on time and consistently.
E stands for balanced Eating. I think it’s important to know one’s self. What works for you? There are so many ways to follow a diet or be mindful of what you’re eating. Figure out what works and stop comparing yourself to someone else. I recommend Intuitive Eating. This approach/attitude focuses on being in touch with your internal cues for food rather than relying on external cues like weight and calorie counting to tells you what and when to eat. Also check these books out by local author, Henry Emmons. The Chemistry of Joy and the Chemistry of Calm provide helpful insight and guidelines for increasing joy and calm in your body’s chemistry through food you eat and exercise you participate in.
A stands for Avoid mood-altering substances. Alcohol and unprescribed drugs mess with your body’s chemistry. While you may experience momentary relief, the short/long-term affects are more like an unwelcome guest that shows up at your door unannounced. We can tell ourselves there are some short term relief in using these substances, but they come consequences. Those consequences outweigh the advantages. So stop lying to yourself about it. There is so much more in life to pursue and to bring relief than a glass of wine or that pull of marijuana.
S stands for Sleep. You got it. We all need anywhere from 6 to 8 hours of sleep per night. Less or more than this can cause problems. Sleep hygiene is so important. There is a lot of information out there to help you find a good routine to get into. Do some digging. Here is a great book on developing great sleep hygiene.
E stands for Exercise. It is important to get our bodies moving and stretching consistently. If you have a sedentary job (like mine!) make sure to take regular “walk breaks” and stretch your legs. Commit 15-30 minutes per day to yoga, pilates, walking or running. Make it fun, listen to an audiobook to keep yourself distracted from the “rub” that comes with pushing yourself. You can do it; your body and mind will thank you for it!
I won’t outline the rest of the acronyms for self-care, but feel free to use a search engine to learn more, if you’re curious. Whether you use PLEASE, HALT, SELF-RESPECT or SEEM to help you stay on track with wellness, it really doesn’t matter. It matters that you have something reminding you to slow down and take care of yourself. Grab one that stands out to you and keep it in your mental toolbox to help you remember. Caring for yourself in these ways help create the foundation you set for yourself. It plays a direct role in your ability to handle difficult stuff. It is the mental health foundation of resilience.
Remember: “In order to draw on resilience tomorrow you need to deposit joy today.”
If you’re finding you’re running into barriers (feeling stuck) when you try these things, and you’d like some help getting past the barriers, reach out to me here to set up a free 15-minute phone consultation. I offer EMDR therapy in Wayzata, MN. I like helping people get unstuck and more connected to their potential.