More and more companies are taking it upon themselves to promote health, happiness and overall mental wellbeing given the adverse effects of the pandemic.
Keeping this in mind, BurdaLuxury KL recently banded together with Chiva-Som International Health Resort in Thailand for an exclusive online wellness session on developing emotional resilience for its staff. Burda employees from Singapore, Thailand and Hong Kong also participated in this self-care programme.
The one-hour session was divided into two parts, starting with the basic understanding of mental/emotional health, stress and stress management by mapping out your thoughts before culminating with a 15-minute pranayama breathing exercise.
As a leading wellness destination offering spa, fitness, physiotherapy, holistic, nutrition and aesthetic beauty for health and wellbeing, Chiva-Som is famed for its wellness packages from detox to yoga. Given the travel restrictions during the pandemic, the resort has been offering complimentary online wellbeing sessions as well as extensive courses on spa, nutritional, yoga and pilates.
We covered a fair bit of theory on what is mental health (what we think) vs emotional health (what we feel) before learning about the connection between ecological organisation and organism community from the cellular level to population, ecosystem and biosphere. The Buddhist philosophy of interdependence was used to drive home the point that true spirituality is to be aware that if we are interdependent with everything and everyone else, even our smallest, least significant thought, word and action have real consequences throughout the universe.
Here, we dove into what stress is and how to identify good stress and bad stress, and when stress becomes a problem. Stress is our body’s response to pressure and is often triggered when we experience something new, unexpected or that threatens our sense of self, or when we feel we have little control over a situation.
That why it’s important to build emotional resilience, which is the process of adapting well in the face of adversity, trauma, tragedy, threats or significant sources of stress such as family and relationship problems or workplace and financial stressors. Essentially, it’s how one bounces back from difficult experiences.
Resilience starts with focusing on what you can control. We aren’t born resilient, it is something we all can learn and improve over our lifetime. Here are the main takeaways from the How to develop emotional resilience against stress wellness workshop by Chiva-Som International Health Resort.
- Firstly, acknowledge your emotions by recognising honestly every emotion you experience and stop suppressing your feelings. Studies have shown that smiling tends to improve moods and during brief period of stress, may help reduce the body’s stress response, regardless of whether the person actually feels happy or not.
- The advisor taught us that we can build resilience through the power of positivity, by listing any thoughts that are currently bothering you and write it down on a piece of paper. Beside the column where you have listed the negative thoughts, try replacing it with positive ones. Simply replacing the thoughts on paper, you can see how things can actually be perceived differently.
- Keep a gratitude journal. Resilience can also be built through gratitude, one of the most powerful emotions that we are capable of developing. When we learn to appreciate what we have, rather than complaining and stressing about what we don’t have or what we lost, we are already more resilient than before. Lack of gratitude stops us from moving forward and brings down our strength to recoil. We can keep a gratitude journal where we list everything that we are thankful for, even during times of stress and it will be a gentle reminder of all the good things in life.
- Another exercise we found useful is building resilience through self-awareness, which can be broken down to the A, B and C of our mind. A is the antecedent or the cause that has led to the current situation (What made this happen) while B is the behavior or the way we have chosen to react to it and C is the consequence that our actions and emotions are likely to bring. By identifying the A-B-Cs of every stressful encounter makes a person more resilient and gives the power to deal with adversities effectively.
- How can we improve stress management? Think about what’s causing your stress. Then sort them into things that will get better with time and things you can’t do anything about. Take control by taking small steps towards the things you can improve.
- It’s also important to build a strong support system by finding close friends and family who can offer help and practical advice to support you when it comes to managing stress. You can also opt to get professional help. Talking to a doctor about what you’ve going through is also helpful, as they are able to advise you on treatment and further help. Joining a club or taking up a course can help expand your social network and encourage you to do something different. Activities like volunteering can change your perspective and have a positive effect on your mood.
- We cannot stress the importance of getting a good night’s sleep. During this session too, we were advised to focus on getting restful sleep and to prioritise relaxing. Make your bedroom conducive for sleep, avoid too much screen time before bedtime and work on your to-do list for the next day before hitting the sack to reduce anxiety.
- A healthy diet can not only provide enough nutrients, but it can improve your mood too. Gut microbes have been shown to influence eating behaviours, cravings and moods through interaction with their host, which is you. Be careful what you put on your body because what goes in, may not come out.
- Mindfulness meditation can be practiced anywhere, anytime; all you need is a 5-minute quiet time but if you find it hard to sit and meditate, you may walk around and just be in a state of total awareness and appreciation of your surroundings. Research have shown mindfulness can help manage and reduce the effect of stress and anxiety.
- Physical exercise can help manage the effects of stress by producing endorphins to boost your mood. Even a little bit of physical activity can make a difference, such as walking 15-20 minutes three times a week.
- Have we been deprived of a dose of nature? Maybe that’s why stress levels are at all-time high these days. Going back to nature has an instant calming effect and it is thoroughly relaxing, do it anytime you have an opportunity.
- Lastly, we were encouraged to incorporate the pranayama into our daily routine. Pranayama is a breathing exercise that can reduce fear and anxiety, and create space for personal healing and transformational growth if done right. Chiva-Som’s resident yoga instructor Kamlesh Kumar taught us the right pranayama technique we could all do at home. To the uninitiated, this video will set you off on a good start.
If you’re considering a wellness resort to recalibrate your mind, body and soul once international travel is allowed; Chiva-Som International Health Resort is definitely worth checking in to.
(Main image: Chiva-Som International Health Resort)
This story first appeared in Prestige Malaysia.