By Kristen Crusoe RN MN EdD
A holistic view of health is so much more than just our physical wellness. Instead, it should include all areas of our lives. The Institute for Integrative Nutrition (IIN), my education and training program for health coaching, identifies both Primary Food and Secondary Food as the sources of health. We need to attend to both areas in our lives. Our areas of primary food are drawn from the Circle of Life. Secondary food, what nourishes our bodies, can be based on IIN’s Nutrition Plate. Let’s explore how each of these areas can enrich our lives and through us, all others.
Have you placed a special focus on the Circle of Life’s areas of joy and spirituality yet? In today’s world, where we are all living in uncertainty and unpredictability, being resilient, is essential to enhancing joy.
What is Resilience?
In the field of engineering, resilience is defined as the ability to absorb or avoid damage without suffering complete failure. It is the ability to respond, absorb, and adapt to, as well as recover in a disruptive event. Being resilient means to have adaptive capacity to bend, reshape, and perhaps even recover to a state similar or even stronger than the pre-event level. It’s important to build up our resilience antibodies to help us through the most difficult and challenging times, now and in the future.
In psychology, resilience is the ability to mentally or emotionally cope with a crisis and being able to return to a pre-crisis state quickly. Basically, it is the ability to sustain or persevere in life’s most complex experiences.
This is all well and good in “normal” times when crises occur rarely or at least one at a time. In today’s turbulent and chaotic healthcare environments, we are faced with extreme adversity on a daily, sometimes hourly and minute by minute basis. Our ability to absorb, adapt, and bounce back is highly strained, leaving us open to dysregulation in all of our coping abilities. We may feel anxiety, depression, and hopelessness. This is where appreciative resilience comes in to help us.
Building Appreciative Resilience
When I think of how important mental health is for all of us, especially healthcare workers, to maintain our mental well-being, I think about the value of appreciative resilience.
Appreciative resilience is the ability to bring hope, despair, and forgiveness to our lives and to help others discover their own personal source of resilience as well. This work was developed by Joan McArthur Blair and Jean Cockell (2018). In all of my own work with appreciative inquiry, I have found this special focus transformative.
When we talk about hope, as a part of resilience, it is not about hope for personal gain. Instead it is the kind of hope that fuels our ability to believe that no matter what state or situation we are in at any given moment, the future will open other possibilities to us. It doesn’t ask us to be joyful or optimistic all the time. But to hold in our hearts the open space for a better future, for ourselves, our loved ones, and our communities.
Despair, in resilience, brings about that “dark night of the soul.” During this time we may not see a clear path forward. It can lead us eventually to see possibilities never imagined. It can show us what we truly believe in, what makes us strong, and how we can use our strength most generatively, to support our own healing and others as well.
How to Overcome Fear
Fear is always about the future. Reactivity is about the past. Right action resides in the now. To be fully present, in each moment, we can practice appreciative resilience through finding hope, allowing despair, and finally forgiveness towards self and others so that we can be our best and support others to be their best as well.
Forgiveness isn’t about moral right, wrong, good, bad, naughty, or nice. It’s about giving up resentment, anger, and fear. As we step towards acceptance it creates space for change. Healing and transformation can then begin. In forgiveness, we balance letting go of what no longer serves us, and holding onto that which nurtures us.
Think about a time when you were resilient during a personal or professional challenge.
- What strengths did you exercise during that time?
- What enabled that strength?
- How did hope help you work through the challenge?
- What was your greatest strength during times of despair?
- How did you find your way to forgiveness?
- If you talk to others about fostering resilience during times of struggle, what would you say to help them?
What Should I Eat To Support Health?
The IIN Nutrition Plate balances our primary nutrition- our relationships, physical activity, spirituality, and careers with what we physically eat to help us live in harmony and strengthen our natural resilience. Start by building your plate around vegetables, protein-rich foods and whole grains. A vegetable like yellow squash is a wonderful addition to try. Proteins, in whatever shape or form we choose, legumes, animal, fish, or fowl, restore and rebuild the fabric of our bodies. These bring strength and energy for the work of our lives. Whole grains bring comfort and help feed our desire to slow down, rest, and restore. Water filters our system and help our organs detoxify our bodies. Fruit, especially dark berries, nourish our immune systems, sparking light and healing throughout our bodies. Oils and healthy fats such as olive oil, lubricate and smooth out any connections that need attention as we prepare our bodies.
Yours in health, Kristen
Kristen Crusoe RN MN EdD, Health Coach, is a consultant with Elderwise Inc. From a health coach perspective, Kristen shares advice about holistic health and how we can live our fullest lives, now and into our preferred futures.
McArthur-Blair, J. & Cockell, J. (2018) Appreciative resilience: A leadership journey through hope, despair, and forgiveness. Berrett-Koehler Publishers: Oakland, CA.