Stress is anything that knocks us out of homeostatic balance. Being human is different than being any other animal, we don’t actually have to be exposed to a real stressor, we can anticipate a stressor in the future or we can ruminate on a past stressor and the stress response can be activated. This is chronic stress, which can manifest as headaches, muscle tension, pain and cardiovascular problems in our bodies. In terms of our mind, we can feel anxious, restless, a lack of motivation and an inability to think clearly. In terms of our behavior, we may have angry outbursts, avoid important activities, over-eat or under-eat, withdraw from social situations, abuse drugs or alcohol, etc. Stress is unavoidable so we have to manage it to become a resilient person.
Resilience is the ability to thrive in life. We are all capable of becoming resilient if we strive to incorporate certain skills and habits into our lives. Some of these skills are:
  1. Identifying our values – a moral compass that guides our actions and behaviors. When our behaviors are consistent with our values and we reflect on life we will be completely satisfied with who we are and where our life is going.
  1. Practice mindfulness – our natural tendency is to go through life “mindlessly” and when we do, we are more likely to be on autopilot and to react emotionally rather than rationally. Mindfulness is bringing our awareness to the present moment and noticing what’s unfolding right now and not judging the situation.
  1. Paying attention to the positive – in attending to all of the aspects in our lives, to others and to our environment, we’ll not only feel better, we’ll behave more effectively and live more consistently with our values. Every day offers some type of goodness but we have to train our attention to identify that goodness.
  1. Practicing gratitude – an emotional experience where we develop an awe or an appreciation for life. The practice of weekly gratitude journaling to include that deeper processing of how we would have felt in the absence of a positive event or special person.
  1. Managing (-)ve emotions and cultivating (+)ve ones – when we manage intense negative emotions such as anxiety, sadness, fear, worry, dread, anguish and anger by identifying, labeling and quantifying them and cultivate positive emotions by doing kind deeds for others – we become a resilient person.
  1. Practice therapeutic lifestyle choices – cheap, readily available choices we can make that have limited to no side-effects, yet promote well-being as effectively as other tools like medication. Eating well, exercise and sleep hygiene (by creating a good bedroom environment and meditative practices to tame the racing mind), spending time in nature, scheduling time for recreation and relaxation – all enable us to become resilient.
  1. Paying attention to our relationships – when we connect with others, we build resilience. In the modern world, people are less connected, more isolated and more lonely than ever before. Some of the types of relationships are (a) good social support – identifying people who to go to when you’re in need of support as well as who you need to stay away from. (b) a good role model – someone who inspires us to become a better person.
There are going to be bumpy roads ahead as we strive to make a commitment to becoming a resilient person and to integrate the necessary skill set. We are encouraged to stay on track, to do what matters most and to ultimately give ourselves permission to take care of ourselves.
It’s not the strongest of the species that survive nor the most intelligent but the one most responsive to change.” Charles Darwin
humor: When do ducks wake up?  At the  quack of dawn!