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Mental Health First Aid: How Resilience Saves Lives.

A New Approach is Needed to Deal With The Challenges That Deplete Us

 A year ago, the community of Westminster, CO was shocked with the news of road rage resulting in tragedy for a mother and her sons. One son was killed and the mother, and another son, were left in critical condition. At the time police couldn’t find a motive and the community was on edge trying to comprehend the senseless violence. 

Recently, I was getting a performance IV therapy at a local holistic treatment center in Boulder, CO. The paramedic, who administered my IV, was one of the first responders at the horrific scene. My heart ached for the family as he went into gruesome detail about the tragic ordeal. I thought, what drove this man to gun down an entire family? 

The paramedic then revealed the reality of what really happened. 

After the mother and man exchanged rage-filled interactions on the highway the man followed the mother to her destination. According to video surveillance, when both parties arrived they stepped out of their cars to continue their confrontation.  It appeared the man gave up and got into his car. The mother followed him. She took a picture of his license plate and yelled obscenities towards him. This triggered the man to shoot her and her kids. 

How would have the situation changed if either party had emotional resilience tools? 

The answer is clear. Tragedy would have been avoided. 

We continue to live in a society where violence, stress, and anxiety are not only at an all-time high, but they are the norm. According to the Institute of Stress, 48% of American people believe stress has increased over the past five years. 73% regularly experience psychological symptoms caused by Stress. 77% regularly experience physical symptoms caused by stress. 

It’s no surprise people are hyper-reactive, depleted, and emotionally exhausted. The emotional energy reserves of our society have become depleted and we have lost the ability to be resilient in the face of adversity, threat, and fear. 

Because we are a status driven society we have prioritized wealth, physical appearance, and competition. In reality, this has given us diminishing returns on our health, happiness, and peace. 

For us to evolve as a society we need to prioritize and invest in resilience training. 

According to the Institute of HeartMath resilience can be thought of as the capacity to prepare for, recover from and adapt to stress, challenge or adversity. When you are resilient, you are able to bounce back and recoup faster after challenging situations. 

The following are tools you can use to build your resilience.

Know your triggers and energy drains

Every day we experience a wide range of emotions. Some drain us, and are costly and inefficient, and some renew us and help us perform. Understanding this emotional landscape can help us understand the relationship between emotional responses, their intensity, and how those responses affect our energy, performance, communication, and resilience. 

Since the body responses differently to each emotional state, and directly affects our body and performance, it is key to bring awareness as to what emotionally triggers you and why. 

This could be anything from financial security to being late to a meeting. 

Once you are able to identify your triggers you can better understand your beliefs and patterns. This knowledge can help you emotionally prepare for stressful events, reset during the event, and sustain resilience. 

Practice Coherence

Coherence is the key to building resilience. 

Coherence is an optional state in which the heart, mind, and emotions are aligned and in sync. Physiologically, the immune, hormonal and nervous systems function in a state of energetic coordination. 

Coherence adds energy to your system and gives you greater control of your reactions, especially when you are in a stressful situation. 

Research from the HeartMath Institute shows when you are under stress and experiencing emotions like rage and anger it generates an incoherent or chaotic signal in your heart rhythms which limits the brains’ ability to process information, problem solve and make effective decisions. 

One way to achieve coherence is by taking 5 mins to center yourself, calm down, and breath into your center. As you breath from your center access those renewing emotions you established such as appreciation or gratitude. 

Prep for Success

When we prep our mind for potential threats and stressors we increase our ability to combat stress, access resilience, and create a set point from where thoughts come from. 

To prep first, go back and acknowledge your triggers and energy drains. Next, either by using biofeedback or personal awareness, practice coherence-building skills and use that knowledge to reset your patterns. 

Prep your mind in the morning. Since the same thoughts are going to create the same choices, reality, and reactions it is important to identify the first thoughts that enter your mind when you awake. If they are stressful or negative thoughts acknowledge them and then actively practice coherence to rewire the brain. 

Prep before stressful situations.  Before getting involved with stressful situations like rush hour traffic or intense negotiations take a few minutes to review and identify possible triggers and then access coherence building skills to bring your body and mind into harmony. 

Prep before communication. By mastering the disciple of prepping before you write a text, email, or making that phone call you can increase authentic communication with sincerity, security, and balance. 

Stress still continues to be a subjective phenomenon that differs for each of us. Unfortunately, millions of people are struggling with the effects of stress and how to manage it. 

People will continue to struggle with stress and their reactions to stressful situations until they make emotional resilience a priority. Complacency is out. Adaptability is in. 

A new approach, or intelligence, is needed to deal with the challenges, difficulties, and changes that deplete us. 

Make emotional resilience and coherence a priority. 

The future will demand this more than ever.

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