Wednesday musings, 3/16/16 Resiliency

Something I have noticed during my studies of the mental and physical aspects of well-being is the similarities that exist between two. The ability to adapt to a broad range of tasks and to recover after a bout of stress are both indicators of resiliency. Resiliency is broadly defined as  “the ability [of an object] to return to its original shape after being bent.” In people, this term refers  to the ability to recover from illness, depress, or adversity.

Think about this in terms of exercise. To successfully grow stronger, it is necessary to be able to recover; if we don’t recover, things begin to manifest into small (and sometimes large) injuries. It is also necessary to be able to bend. This doesn’t mean you have to be able to put your leg behind your head; what it does mean is having a little bit of give will benefit you if you step into a pot hole and turn your leg a strange way. If there is a degree of flexibility in the body, it will return to its original shape.

In stressful situations that arise during life, research indicates cognitive flexibility and heart rate variability allow a person to adapt to the stress,* ultimately returning to a more relaxed state once the threat is removed. I would argue to build true resiliency, we must understand what it is to be in a more relaxed state. This might suggest tools such as meditation and restorative movement as a compliment to building physical strength. Stress isn’t the enemy; it makes us stronger, more adaptable people if we have the ability to return to our original form.

*Abstract here: http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/26899260