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Resilience and Wellbeing

June 13, 2018

By Angela Kneale OTD, MA, OTR/L, NBC-HWC

As a vital component of our health, resilience is often described as the ability to bounce back from setbacks, trauma, and loss. And beyond enduring horrible conditions, we truly need resilience every day to cope with stress, navigate relationships with other people, address health problems, confidently pursue opportunities, and stay centered in the face of adversity. Resilience is not only about breaking even and meeting the struggles and obstacles that come our way – resilience is practicing the skills to thrive!

In his 2018 book, Resilient: How to Grow an Unshakable Core of Calm, Strength, and Happiness, neuropsychologist Rick Hanson, Ph.D. outlines “true resilience” as the necessary foundation for lasting wellbeing in a changing world. Developing strengths such as grit, gratitude, courage, and compassion provide the inner resources needed for whatever happens in the increasingly volatile world around us. “True resilience fosters wellbeing, an underlying sense of happiness, love, and peace.” Resilience and wellbeing promote one another, spiraling upward.

Awareness and Movement

Experiential practices help us to recognize and grow our inner strengths. Awareness of compassion for our selves, as well as for others, is an important starting point on the path to resilience and wellbeing. Treating ourselves with respect and caring, in the same way we treat our friends, nurtures our growth and healing. Practicing self-compassion and self-care helps to directly experience how being good to ourselves is good for each of us, as well as being good for others.

Additionally, Dr. Hanson emphasizes enjoyment of life as a powerful way for us to take care of ourselves. Intentionally seeking enjoyable moments enriches each day, lowers stress, connects us with others, and increases our learning. He believes that the most important minute in life is the next one – every minute after minute is full of possibilities, with little things adding up over time. Many times each day, we can change our brains for better resilience and wellbeing.

Awareness of our inner strengths together with mindful movement of our bodies helps to hardwire resilience into our brains. Mind-body movement integrates positive experiences, mindfulness, focused breathing, core strength, flexibility, balance, connection, and alignment. And adding a foam roller with mind-body movement increases awareness of how the body feels and moves, strengthens us dynamically, enhances balance reactions, increases flexibility of muscles and nerves, and challenges sensory and movement systems. Foam roller exercises promote tuning in to the strength and stability of our center. We feel fully supported while opening our minds and hearts, exploring how everything is connected to everything else, and enjoying the dynamic interactions.

Finding the “Green Zone”

During foam rolling, the release of tightness and tension from our muscles and connective tissues often corresponds with release of emotional stress and tension. Dr. Hanson describes this responsive mode of the brain as the “green” zone. It is characterized by activation of the parasympathetic nervous system, with the body settling down, calming, repairing, refueling, and evoking feelings of gratitude, contentment, and kindness.

In contrast, the reactive mode is known as the “red” zone and defines the fight-or-flight sympathetic nervous system activation known for fear, intensity, possessiveness, and aggression. Although both brain modes are natural and necessary, our everyday wellbeing and long-term health benefit from leaving “red” and centering in “green” as often as possible.

Rolling with foam rollers helps discover our physical barriers, welcoming “playing through” rather than “working through” difficulties, and leads to discovery of other barriers, including blockages in our thinking and feeling. As we invite the beneficial changes of softening and relaxing into our bodies, our minds and emotions follow.

Resilient people demonstrate flexibility in their thoughts and feelings, balance positivity and negativity, see challenges as opportunities to grow and evolve, and cultivate habits to lean toward and learn from demanding problems and circumstances. The journey toward greater resilience and wellbeing enlarges our human experiences, enhances compassion and gratitude, promotes courage and generosity, and inspires us to live in thriving and flourishing ways.

Consider Registering for Rolling for Resilience

This 3-hour experiential workshop explores the best foam roller techniques for self-massage, body alignment and core strengthening. Posture awareness exercises and dynamic movements on the roller help you connect with your body’s resilience and your capacity to thrive.

  • Playfully discover and explore how your body feels and moves
  • Enhance breathing, relieve body tension and muscle imbalances
  • Promote ease of movement, improved posture and greater flexibility
  • Restore and create healthful, efficient, balanced and joyful movement

Each participant will receive a Star Roller and Rolling for Resilience instructional book to take home after the workshop. Click here to learn more about Rolling for Resilience.


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