During a recent walk on my local beach, I watched with fascination as a ship attempted to make its way into the safety of the harbor, listing dangerously as it did so. The seas were rough and it took a number of attempts before succeeding.
As I watched, I reflected on the lesson to be drawn from its determination and resilience to battle the stormy seas.
Like the ship we need the resilience to make our way to a safe harbor where we can shelter from the storms. Such a harbor will be different things to different people. Maybe a good book, a hot cup of chocolate, tea, coffee, snuggled up in front of the TV with an old movie, a hot bath, yoga, meditation, mindfulness and many other options.
Withdrawing from the world for short periods of time to take stock and recharge the batteries has the benefit of building and strengthening our resilience. Developing resilience is fundamental in helping us deal with the inevitable stormy seas we all face at times in our lives, whatever our age.
Resilience is not a trait we inherently have, but a process or a toolkit we can learn to develop. With older adults being the fastest growing age group, it is important for us to understand the physical and psychological benefits of developing resilience.
Sadly, we continue to have a negative stereotype of aging in the West, namely the inevitability of frailty, declining physical abilities and mental limitations. However, science challenges this and research suggests that we have the same or even greater capacity of developing resilience than the younger generation. Not only does resilience enable us to deal with life’s challenges, but it also plays a critical role in longevity.
Once again research reminds us that our attitude towards life and our experiences go a long way towards exercising the resilience muscle. It is also interesting to note that older women appear to have developed a higher level of resilience than men of the same age. This is attributed to experiences older women have had to deal with such as cultural and social changes, responsibilities for looking after a family and other caregiving and financial concerns.
I devoted a previous post to the significance of relationships as we get older and women are seen as successful in nurturing social connections and building relationships with others, key ingredients in developing resilience as we age.
The affects of high resilience are associated with the quality of our lives, a greater sense of wellbeing both physically as well as mentally and enhancing longevity. However, as with anything worth having, we have to work at it and taking time out to nurture ourselves is one of the many ways in which we can develop our resilience.
There is overriding evidence to suggest that lifestyle choices hugely contribute to our physical as well as psychological wellbeing. I will devote a post exclusively to this topic in the future. In the meantime taking time out of busy schedules is critical in our ability to have the resilience to cope with the demands on our time and emotions.
We live in a society obsessed with doing, taking action and always striving to do better and more. Yet, it is vital to our physical and mental wellbeing to balance these activities with quiet times and self care. There are a myriad ways in which we can achieve this and each one of us needs to find our own safe harbor to shelter from the storms.
Some of the options that have proved to be beneficial include various forms of exercise such as walking and reconnecting with nature. I certainly advocate a break away from technology and turning off Tablets, Smart Phones, laptops and other electronic devices.
Instead, do something different and take up Yoga, meditation or mindfulness. Under Top Tips I suggest a well-written book for an introduction to mindfulness and the health benefits associated with it.
As I’ve said in a previous post, not only is it acceptable, but it is also critical to your own wellbeing to make time for yourself.