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3 rituals to help you build resilience and beat stress

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i was watching Good morning America and recently saw a segment where they recommended people take short breaks between work tasks. The program cited an analysis in the journal PLOS ONE showing that “micro breaks” during the workday increase energy and reduce fatigue.

This is the essence of the recovery methodology I’ve learned from research and personal experience, dating back to my days as a teen lifeguard on New York’s Jones Beach. We focus on practicing what I call resilience rituals and how they help us fight exhaustion, exhaustion and burnout and rebuild resilience.

The forces that drive us toward burnout are chronic stress (partly caused by being constantly online), multitasking, and forgetting to take care of the needs of our bodies and minds. The results could be catastrophic to our health and well-being, but there’s good news: Resilience rituals, if practiced regularly, can help us recharge, rejuvenate, and perform at our best.

Related: 7 Keys to Developing Resilience

When I was a lifeguard, we conducted dozens of ocean rescues every day, but there was one rescue that failed when we couldn’t find a swimmer who had sunk in the rough surf. Ever since that tragedy, we have vowed to make sure this would never happen again during our watch. To fulfill that vow, our lifeguard crew had to learn to become more capable and intervene in the face of a serious tragedy. To make sure everyone was performing at their best, we started taking more breaks and spelling each other out.

Today I call that concept the toggle method – a way to recharge energy and increase resilience.

How the toggle method helps to recharge resilience

For a long time, people have defined resilience as our ability to take a hit and bounce back. The person who could produce the most, tolerate the most stress, and was the first in the office and the last out of the office was considered resilient. Trying to conform to that old paradigm is one of the reasons why so many people are exhausted, near or beyond burnout.

You cannot endlessly absorb stress and take the blows of uncertainty and fear and come back stronger and stronger. It’s like fighting a mouse current. Instead, I believe resilience is about recovery. It’s the recovery process that ultimately allows you to bounce forward, rather than just bounce back.

Practicing resilience rituals allows you to switch between periods of focused energy (the “E-Zone”) and periods of focused rest and recovery (the “R-Zone”), like a light switch flips between on and off. Taking breaks throughout the day allows you to switch between your E-Zone and your R-Zone – using periodic rest, recovery and regeneration as a tool to improve productivity and performance.

If you switch back and forth between these two states often enough throughout the day, you will notice that it increases your ability to concentrate. This allows you to achieve more throughout the day with less exhaustion, less exhaustion and less risk of burnout. Over time, this also helps you build more resilience.

Related: Want to avoid burnout? Start building resilience now.

Exchange menu

So, how can we regenerate in a way that extends our lifespan, capacity and sustainability, either as individuals or as teams? We have developed a “switch menu” of things people can do during the day to reset, recharge and rejuvenate. Some activities can be done in less than a minute, while others can be done in 30 minutes or less. Here are a few to try:

  • Legs against the wall: This is my ultimate go-to for afternoon energy. Instead of drinking coffee or eating a candy bar, try lying flat on your back with your legs vertical against the wall, with your body in the shape of an L. You can do this for as short as 20 minutes with close your eyes, with or without meditation. Set an alarm because you could literally fall asleep! After 20 minutes in that position, you wake up or get up recovered. It feels like a multi-hour nap without dizziness. You have taken the pressure off your back and legs. You have better circulation and circulation. You will feel mentally, physically, emotionally and perhaps even spiritually restored. If I do this for 20 minutes in the afternoon, I find that my capacity matches my best productivity hours in the morning.

  • Zone 2 cardio walk: The impact of walking can never be overstated, especially if you walk after meals. Walking helps regulate your biochemistry to lower your heart rate, lower your blood pressure and increase the levels of dopamine and serotonin in your body. Take one or more 20 to 30 minute walks during the day and you will probably feel better. A Zone 2 Cardio Walk is a bit different in that you breathe through your nose and keep your mouth closed while you walk so you don’t talk to other people or talk on your phone. By breathing in and out through your nose, you create more of an aerobic experience with more benefits for your cardiovascular system. It is a combination of walking and breathing exercises that you will find restorative and beneficial to your sense of well-being. Walking after eating will benefit from increasing your metabolism and aiding your digestion and absorption of what you have eaten.

  • Hand/ear massage: Your ears don’t usually get much touch, and massaging them can be a bit of a state change. This is an area that has been vetted Research to bring about a change in the way neurons fire in your brain. So if you are tired sitting at your desk, close your eyes and massage your ears up and down for about 60 seconds. You can also try massaging your hands between your thumb and index finger. Small switching rituals like this can have a big effect!

Related: 5 Reasons Why Science Says You Seriously Need To Take A Break

There are many ways you can give yourself breaks throughout the day to recharge your energy and restore your resilience. Try taking quiet time for meditation, gratitude, and prayer to start and end your day. Set reminders on your phone to remind you to unplug every day. Experiment with different activities of different durations and see what works best for you.

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