Today, most women are juggling several jobs: breadwinner, family caregiver, family health manager, cook, and as my father used to say, the cleaner-upper. Of course, men are contributing more to household chores and childrearing these days, but many working women still feel they have to be superwoman and are burdened by an epidemic of overwhelm.
So are women more resilient than men? Do we have some inner resource we can call on that helps us sustain? Or do men and women get equally overwhelmed by the pressures of life today?
What is Resilience?
Resilience is the emotional and physiological capacity to bounce back from adversity, and to call upon a reservoir of energy to deal with challenge and opportunity.
Think of your resilience capacity like the amount of gas you have in your car. The more you have, the farther you can go. Building a reservoir of resilience gives you the confidence to know you can make it through a potentially stressful situation; it gives you the energy to continue down the road after stress drains you; and it gives you the ability to quickly reset your system to perform in a normal, operational state.
Unmanaged stress is a prime disabler of resilience. Your resilience depletes when you feel resistant or compressed. For example, think about a resistance you felt when you found yet another major project landed on your plate. Or when your company laid people off and you had to pick up the slack. Who wouldn’t feel resistant or compressed?
Your resilience also depletes when you let your emotions spin out of control or add more drama to stressful situations than is helpful. In these changing and uncertain times, inconveniences, impatience and frustration can stack into overwhelm and drain your emotional resilience. This can lead to health problems that further sap resilience. To survive as superwoman or thrive as a balanced human being, we need to build up our resilience capacity.
In physics, resilience is the property of a material that enables it to bounce back and resume its original shape or position after being bent, stretched, or compressed. Bamboo trees are wonderful examples of being able to bend without breaking. Bamboo trees go through stress from nature, but they bounce back in a remarkable way. There are things we can do to build resilience and maintain flexibility and balance in life, like the bamboo tree, as we deal with challenging circumstances.
Building our resilience capacity is so important, as it helps reduce the emotional and physical effects of overwhelm, time deprivation, edginess, financial pressures, unexpected changes; we all know the list. Building our emotional resilience capacity involves simple actions that can be easily done. Here are two proven tips we use to stop the overwhelm drain and start building up resilience.
Resilience Tip #1 – Learn to go to Neutral
Think of all the times you hear something that makes you frustrated or worried, or all the times you project that something won’t work out but then it does work out. Instead of letting frustration or worry drain your emotional reserves, you can use this Neutral tool created at HeartMath. Try it before and during difficult communications, during a meeting, or when you watch the news, to save that emotional energy and build your resilience capacity.
The Neutral Tool:
Step 1: Take a time-out, breathing slowly and deeply. Imagine the air entering and leaving through the heart area or the center of your chest.
Step 2: Focus on your heart and breathing instead of your stressful thoughts and worried feelings.
Step 3: Continue until you have neutralized the emotional charge and you feel calmness throughout.
Start by using Step 1 as soon as you feel your emotions start to react. First take a time-out by choosing to step back from your emotions. Heart breathing in Step 1 helps draw the energy out of your head, where negative thoughts and feelings get amped up. Breathe slowly and deeply in a casual way. Imagine the air entering and leaving through the center of your chest and heart area.
In Step 2, disengage from your stressful thoughts and feelings as you continue to breathe. Just having the intent to disengage can help you neutralize a lot of your emotional energy.
In Step 3, continue the process until you have chilled out and neutralized the emotional charge. This doesn’t mean your anger or anxiety will have totally evaporated. It just means that the charged energy has been taken out and you have stopped the stress play out in your body.
Resilience Tip #2 – Take Charge of Drama
Adding drama to a stressful situation quickly bleeds resilience. One picture of drama is people gathered around an office cubicle hashing and rehashing an issue with negative projections, comparisons and blame. Yet, you may be surprised to know that most of the drama that drains us takes place within the privacy of our own thoughts. This internal drama often goes on all day long. It’s seductive because we seem to think if it’s only taking place within our personal privacy, then there is no energy drain. Both types of drama, internal drama and external drama fests with others, require our attention to minimize and manage if we want to increase our resilience.
Here is a way to recoup from drama that we call “Take Charge”!
Step 1: Practice identifying internal or external drama and make it a game with yourself.
Step 2: Tell yourself that adding drama drains your resilience so you are going to “Take Charge!” and make some changes. Moving your focus onto the term”Take Charge!” removes your focus from the drama.
Step 3: Whenever you catch yourself churning drama then, from your heart, instate the feeling of “Take Charge!” and excuse yourself from the internal or external drama fest.
Using the term “Take Charge!” can sound simple, but even if you catch yourself and intercept drama a few times a day, that’s a lot of vitality you will save. The power to “Take Charge” comes from your authentic self and putting your heart into it, not just saying the words. Once you connect with the power of “Take Charge”, it can be used in many ways to stop other energy-sapping habits and establish habits that revitalize your system and add to your resilience reservoir.
Resilience is at the top of a must-have list for women (and men) to effectively deal with today’s overload, time constraints, health and financial worries, and unexpected challenges. There are many ways you can build mental, emotional and physical resilience. Practicing these two proven resilience tips daily will help you build resilience capacity fast.