5 Essential Wellness Practices to Cultivate Resilience and Reduce Stress
Burnout is a growing concern, especially for women who are more vulnerable to it than men. In fact, according to new recent research, 46% of women reported higher levels of burnout compared to 37% of men. The good news is that resilience can help combat burnout. Resilience is not about avoiding stress, but rather handling it effectively and even turning it into a positive experience.
As a Holistic Nutritionist and founder of HEAL Wellness, I have seen an increase in demand from our clients for programs that aim to improve stress levels and mental health among employees. Such programs are crucial for fostering engagement, productivity, and overall resilience in the workplace. Organizations greatly benefit from having resilient employees, as they are nearly twice as likely to retain them for the next two years.
Here are five strategies to build resilience:
We often associate exercise with physical benefits, but it also has mental health benefits that can be felt immediately. Exercise has been shown to improve sleep, reduce anxiety, and boost mood. You don’t have to spend hours at the gym to reap these benefits. Even just 10 minutes of physical activity a day can make a difference.
What we eat affects our resilience. One key factor is blood sugar balance. When we eat too many high-carb foods, our body releases more cortisol, a stress hormone, to regulate our blood sugar. But consuming 25-30g of protein with each meal can help to balance blood sugar and lead to more energy, less anxiety, lower stress hormones, and better sleep. So, choosing the right foods can directly influence our stress levels and boost our resilience.
Our minds tend to focus on negativity, even when good things happen. This bias can increase our stress levels. Dr. Rick Hanson has shown that we can reprogram our brains to focus on positivity through gratitude. One simple way to do this is by keeping a gratitude journal. Write down three things you are grateful for each day, and be specific about what you appreciate. For example, “I’m grateful for the conversation I had with my dad last night,” is more specific than “I’m grateful for my family.”
Mindfulness involves being aware of your thoughts and feelings in the present moment, without judgment. There are many ways to practice mindfulness, such as guided meditation or a body scan. Mindfulness helps you separate yourself from difficult emotions, reducing their intensity. Interestingly, a 2020 study of firefighters found that resilience isn’t only trainable, but mindfulness training was also more effective than relaxation training in building resilience.
Last, but certainly not least, is rest. Rest means different things to different people, but most of us need more sleep. It’s so easy to put sleep on the back burner, with one more episode of Netflix, or one more work email. But even just one night of poor sleep negatively affects our stress, anxiety, mood, and blood sugar levels. It’s essential to have a relaxing nighttime routine and avoid blue light devices (which block melatonin production) for at least 30 minutes before bed.
Small changes in each of these areas can have a significant impact on your resilience. The more you practice resilience, the more resilient you will become over time. Taking care of yourself should be a priority, and it will pay off in the long run.
About the Expert
Mandy King is a holistic nutritionist and the founder of HEAL Wellness, a leading corporate wellness company that provides lunch and learns, webinars and virtual wellness challenges on nutrition, movement and mental health to organizations that value their employees’ health and well-being. They are praised for the high engagement of their programs and their personal, light-hearted approach to wellness.