Do you feel exhausted all the time? Does everything in life seem to trigger a migraine or a spike in blood pressure? Are you struggling with depression or anxiety? Are you finding it hard to make healthy choices in life? If you answered yes to any of these questions, it is likely that your buffer zone of resiliency is depleted.
Your buffer zone of resiliency is the grounding, regulating and modulating aspect of your body. It is your reservoir of homeostasis. Your body’s biochemistry is constantly fluctuating and constantly working to achieve homeostasis. For example, when you eat a cookie your blood sugar rises. Your body then releases insulin to sweep away the sugar and bring your body back to homeostasis. When you are stressed your body releases a flood of fight-or-flight hormones. Your body chemistry should then recover and return back to rest-and-digest mode after you are safe and the stress has passed. Women’s hormones are also fluctuating throughout the month. Estrogen and progesterone fluctuate and balance each other throughout the month, like many of the other yin and yang cycles of nature.
However, when your buffer zone of resiliency is depleted the fluctuations in your biochemistry will tend to overwhelm your body’s ability to keep stuff in balance. If this is the case you may find yourself struggling with chronic stress, migraines, high blood pressure, chronic inflammation, diabetes, IBS, depression or anxiety. You may find it impossible to make the healthy choices in your life that you want to make because your body is in a state of chronic stress. Your body is in survival mode and you can’t really see or focus on any goal that may be on the horizon.
When your buffer zone of resiliency is strong, it is like having a protective force field around your body which helps buffer the constant changes and oscillations of life. You are no longer just struggling to survive but can now more easily focus on your greater goals. In Chinese Medicine, we would say that your Qi, Blood and Yin are well nourished. This means that your body’s natural healing potential is optimized and you are able to quickly recover from stress and other fluctuations in your body chemistry.
So how can you increase your buffer zone of resiliency? Below are 7 ways you can expand your force field of resiliency.
1. Practice Mindfulness
Stress greatly reduces your buffer zone of resiliency and reduced resiliency will lead to greater stress. It can be a vicious cycle. But there are lot of things that you can do to start managing your stress. Guided mindfulness meditation is a good start. Use one of your favorite meditation apps or check out our Body Scan Meditation or shorter Meditation for Anxiety.
Nightly warm baths are also a great way to melt away the day’s stress and bring you back into the present moment. If you have a nice bath tub, don’t forget to put it too good use. You can practice mindfulness while you are in the tub—pay attention to the feeling of the warm water on your skin or the smell of your favorite essential oil. Nightly bathing is common in Japan and I’m convinced it is one of their secrets to longevity.
2. Nourish Your Body
You must nourish your body to build its resiliency. Diets that are high in sugar are also low in nutrition. You cannot be properly nourished when much of your calories are coming from sugar and refined carbohydrates. The high spikes in blood sugar that occur after eating sugar or refined carbohydrates create another form of stress in your body. Excessive and regular blood sugar spikes consume your body’s resources and challenge its homeostatic regulation. By reducing sugar and refined carbohydrates and increasing nourishing foods such as healthy fats, proteins, vegetables and water, you nourish your body and in turn nourish and expand its buffer zone of resiliency.
3. Reduce Caffeine
Every cup of caffeine you drink is like making a withdrawal from your body’s reserves or “bank account.” If you drink caffeine and do little else to increase your resiliency, your body’s “bank account” is going to become overdrawn. Caffeine has been shown to put your body into fight-or-flight mode. Drinking caffeine is like drinking liquid stress, but many of us are easily drawn to the upside it provides, such as improved clarity and productivity. However, caffeine consumption comes at a cost—it is indeed a withdrawal. If your buffer zone of resiliency needs nourishment, take it easy on the caffeine or even cut it out altogether—your body’s “bank account” will thank you.
4. Get More Sleep
If caffeine consumption is a withdrawal from your body’s “bank account” of resiliency, sleep is a deposit. Few people these days are getting enough sleep to create a resiliency savings in the body. Every person is different but in general it is good to shoot for 8 hours of sleep each night for adults and 10-12 hours each night for children. So ditch the late night screen time or work and just hit the hay. Over time you can watch your resiliency “bank account” grow.
5. Exercise and Stretch
Exercise and stretching reduce stress, improve circulation in your body and boost your mood. Any amount of movement and stretching helps, but getting good quality exercise is best. Don’t just rely on step counting as your bustle back and forth in the office or on errands. When did that sort of movement leave you feeling great? Make sure you build in time for mindful exercise and stretching to nourish your body AND your mind. In this way you are both building and circulating the resiliency energy in your body.
6. Spend More Time in Nature
Ahhh, vitamin N. I had a college professor that was the chair of my independent study. One day I had a meeting with him and I happened to be having a bad day (I don’t even remember why). He suggested I take a walk in the woods. At the time I was too mired in my own self-pity to appreciate the profoundness of his suggestion. Being in nature is a critical piece to our mental and emotional wellbeing. The cycles of nature strongly beckon your body to synchronize with its natural order and resiliency. When you are outside in nature your body and mind are surrounded by nature’s peace and order and you absorb that—you synchronize with that. When life seems to be too much or to not make any sense, I often realize I haven’t been outside in a while. Get outside in nature more regularly and allow the sky, the trees, the mountains, the ocean, the little trickle of a stream or the song of the birds nourish you.
7. Get acupuncture
Acupuncture is one of my favorite ways to manage stress and increase my resiliency. I love that I don’t need to actually “do” anything to get the profound benefits of acupuncture—I only need to show up and lie on a table. Acupuncture takes you out of fight-or-flight mode and puts you right back into rest-and-digest mode. In other words, it reduces stress. Acupuncture also reduces or eliminates pain, balances blood sugar and balances your hormones. Acupuncture has a modulating effect on your body. This means it regulates the cycles and waves of your body’s internal chemistry. Many newcomers to acupuncture are just astonished at how relaxed and good they feel after their acupuncture treatment. After my very first acupuncture treatment I was hooked. And being hooked on something that is good for you, that builds your buffer zone of resiliency…well, that’s a good thing!