3 tools to lower stress and help build your resilience
We all will face intense stress at some point, whether it’s losing a job or the death of a loved one. This stress can have a significant impact on our physical and mental health. Rachel Brown, MD, offered three tools to lower stress and build our resilience so the bad times feel less intense.
What is resilience?
The American Psychological Association defines resilience at the process of adapting well to difficult or challenging life experiences.
“None of us is immune to hard times, but you can be healthy and productive while it’s going on,” Dr. Brown said. “The first thing to remember is resilience building doesn’t happen overnight. Small changes over time can help you manage your stress and build resilience.”
Here are three tools to help.
Tool # 1: Think about three good things
This tool focuses on the fact that the more positive emotions you have, the more resilient you will become. Negative emotions have a stronger impact on mental health, so three positive emotions are needed to counter one negative emotion.
“Only 3% of people are hardwired to default to positive emotion,” Dr. Brown said. “Most of us spend way more time thinking about negative experiences.”
However, by redirecting our thoughts to more positive experiences, we can correct this negative bias. The “three good things” technique is an easy way to do that. Simply use a journal to write down three good things that happened at the end of each day.
Tool #2: Try the 20% rule
Research shows that if you spend 20% of your time focusing on something you’re passionate about, whether it’s part of your workday or an after-hours hobby, you will be happier.
“Passion work is challenging and gets you in a flow,” Dr. Brown explained. “This flow increases dopamine – the happy hormone – which can protect against stress and burnout.”
Tool #3: Consider cultivating awe
Awe is a powerful emotion that changes how we experience time by slowing it down. It’s a feeling of wonder, joy and contentment that has the power to activate the release of oxytocin, also known as the “love” hormone.
“Try looking at pictures of scenes that inspire awe or go on an awe walk,” suggested Dr. Brown. “If you remember an awe-inspiring experience and describe it to someone else, it can benefit both of you.”
Regularly using one or all of these techniques can help you deal better with external stress and build resilience over time.
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