Have you ever been stressed before?
Chances are you have. And chances are equally high that you will become stressed again sometime in your life. While stress is an inevitability, it doesn’t have to be an impediment. One way in which to prepare yourself for stress is to build your resiliency so that you can have a higher threshold and bounce back quicker once it hits you.
Our friend Jenny Evans is an expert on resiliency and human performance (as well as a certified exercise nutritionist, personal trainer, author, and speaker), and she came to Studio/E for a Hero Speaker Series event to teach us how to build our resiliency so we can deal with stress. Here are a few of the many resiliency tips we learned from Jenny:
Create Optimal Defaults
Our primitive hardwiring always goes for the easiest default option, and we live in a world full of disastrous defaults: sitting for hours at a time, having copious amounts of food at our disposal, etc. The easiest option is the one we often go for, so it’s important to make the better choice the easiest choice. The best way to do this is by creating optimal defaults so you actually have to expend more energy to choose the worse option.
An optimal default at home is to keep fresh fruits and vegetables accessible. At work, make walking meetings the default. If you need to meet over a table or with a computer, you can arrange it then. An optimal default while traveling is to pack your carry-on with several healthy snacks so that it would be more difficult to wait in line for fast food while in the airport.
Make Things Micro
Jenny believes the road to resiliency is best walked down with small steps. When you make micro changes, such as little tweaks to your eating habits or physical activity, Jenny says you can sneak them past your primitive brain so it doesn’t identify them as threats. Your primitive brain is useful (it tries to keep you from danger) but it also opts for the easy choice because it uses up less of your precious energy.
Here are some micro changes you can make to raise your resiliency:
- Eat micro-meals: The stressed out body craves different foods than the body in an ideal chemical state does, causing us to eat worse when we’re stressed. Jenny suggests eating every three to four hours, alternating between moderate meals and small snacks.
- Create micro-climates: In order to eat better and move more (and therefore be more resilient), it’s helpful to change our environments so they nudge us into our desired behaviors. Environment changes could be using small plates and bowls at mealtime, doing away with your TV remote so you have to stand up when you want to change the channel, or sticking to the perimeter of the grocery store while shopping.
- Take micro-bursts: All it takes to restore your physical chemistry back to an ideal state is 30 – 60 seconds of intense exercise like running in place or doing jumping jacks. One of the attendees at Jenny’s event said it well: “I have a very stressful job that involves a lot of dealing with other people’s emotions. Taking 60 seconds to move my body after they leave could counteract hours of turmoil in my own body.”
Act, Learn, and Build Your Way to Resiliency
At the core of the Studio/E methodology is something we call Act-Learn-Build, which is about taking small actions, learning from those small actions, and building upon them based on your learnings. Similarly, building your resiliency is about shrinking things down so you’re not creating too much change at once (see the micros above). Once an action becomes routine, you can then identify the next small step to take. After awhile you’ll realize you’ve made a multitude of small changes that add up to a more resilient you. And a more resilient you can handle stress, bounce back to your ideal self quicker, and do a better job of creating the future you desire.
Jenny’s message is applicable to everyone: in order to better handle stress, build your resiliency. Her book, The Resiliency rEvolution: Your Stress Solution For Life — 60 Seconds at a Time, provides a wealth of tips and tricks you can adopt to begin acting, learning and building your way to resiliency today.
Are you interested in more events like the Hero Speaker Series Featuring Jenny Evans? If so, we encourage you to consider becoming a Studio/E member.