I strongly believe in the concept that a healthy - biologically resilient body will support your mental health, as well as your overall happiness and success in life. That sentence right there is the number one message that I – as a biologist and human potential coach - want to get out to the world. Resilience isn’t only about emotions.
“A healthy - biologically resilient body will support your mental health & your overall happiness in life”
However I recognize that the opposite is also true. It is a two way street.
Your body affects your mind & your mind affects your body.
Your mental health support you biological resilience in many ways. Of course your neurological level of arousal determined by what your brain perceives is happening in the environment (threat, calm, curiosity, time and safe place to sleep..) triggers a hormonal response that gets your body ready to respond to the current environment.
But there is a second, equally important aspect: A robust mental health enables smart decision-making. It allows you to prepare & plan for future events so that they run smoothly. A mature, mentally stable person enjoys supportive relationships with people in their community. Also they have the ability to accept that as a humans they have permission to be imperfect, to make mistakes and still carry on. They don’t fall easily into downward spirals where they question their self worth and give up on their goals.
This point was strongly driven home to me last week. With the start of school in September – especially being in the middle of the year 2020 (aka the year of the pandemic) my daughter brought promptly brought home the first post summer cold which quickly spread around the family home. It took me a couple weeks to shake it as it evolved from sore throat to cough to nose...
As luck would have it I was simultaneously dealing with a tricky and stressful family situation. Unfortunately it involved making international travel arrangements – in these uncertain times. I was ridden with worries about travel insurance, COVID testing, expenses and the possibility of getting stuck in quarantine.
Added to that was the biggest problem of all:
how to face the conflicting view points in the family.
The elephant just walked into the room.
You can imagine the stress..
Well I one day while feeling under the weather anyway due to my persistent cold, the anxiety around how I was going to talk to family just built up inside me like a huge rock weighing on my chest. Suddenly my cold symptoms felt a million times worse.
I felt encompassed by a profound fatigue
The nervousness infiltrated my muscles making them feel painful & weak.
I broke out into a cold, feverish sweat.
I had to sit down to catch my breath.
I just wanted to hide in bed, pull the covers over my head, and ignore it all..
.... except I couldn’t– not any longer. Not if I had to stand up for my values, be my true self. I could no longer allow myself to be “psychologically coerced ” into backing down as was my default course of action in the past.
The feeling of doom would not lift. My body physically hurt worse that my symptoms.
I distracted thoughts but it didn’t go away.
- How to talk?
- How to assert myself while not intentionally causing an explosion?
- How could I speak without getting dragged down into arguing trivial details then finishing up with strained silences so thick you could cut the air with a knife?
I thought of ways I could just sneak out, cover up, lie. I could refuse to talk (yet another of my past coping mechanisms) It still didn’t feel comfortable. I had to talk. I wanted to. Sneaking around was worse.
Suddenly I knew. I knew what I had to say:
“I have to travel. It can’t be avoided. It is necessary. I can’t know that I am making
the most perfect decision. I just know that given my current information, current
circumstances, it is the best I can do.”
And the final punch line: It was Soooo simple. It was just one sentence:
“I’m not asking you to agree. I’m not asking you to love
it. But I am asking for respect.”
Then the rock lifted off my chest. The sweat subsided. I stood up straight. The annoying cold was still there. But the pain was less. The oppression was gone.
Learning to express your true self respectfully is a huge element in relieving stress.
It helps your body. It helps you live right. You overcome the challenge.
You become resilient.