How to build resiliency and support better physical and mental wellbeing
We talked with Julie Wald, Founder and Chief Wellness Officer at Golden (formerly Namaste Wellness) about the role of resiliency in health and wellbeing. The company’s new name was inspired in part by the Japanese practice of Kintsugi, repairing and strengthening broken household items with gold. Ms. Wald has been a wellness practitioner for over 25 years. She holds a master’s degree in Social Work from New York University and began her career as a clinical social worker. She’s also a Certified Yoga Instructor, Meditation Teacher, Thai Bodyworker, and Reiki Master and the author of Inner Wealth: How Wellness Heals, Nurtures, and Optimizes Ultra-Successful People.
Pinnacle Care (PC): How do you define resiliency?
Julie Wald (JW): I think of resiliency as how well and how quickly we’re able to recover from difficulties. During the pandemic, our resilience has really been tested. We’re being asked to adapt and cope with stress constantly. Resilience today is about how quickly we can let go of disappointments and rebuild our hope and strength so we can continue living a full and rewarding life.
PC: Are you seeing a lot of stress and fatigue related to the pandemic? Do you have any strategies for being resilient and bouncing back in times like these?
JW: The biggest differentiator I’ve found is how resourced people are in terms of the stress management tools and practices they have to help them continually build, reinforce, and maintain resiliency. People who don’t have a lot of tools tend to struggle more. Additionally, the fatigue of having to continually use these resources during the pandemic can make life very difficult. We have to continue finding new ways to cope.
PC: Are there practices that can help a person build or rebuild resilience?
JW: Developing effective time management. It’s so simple, yet so important. You should also be taking breaks and finding ways to fill your cup, whether that’s drinking water, taking a walk, or connecting with loved ones to recharge. Monotasking is another technique you can use. Multitasking actually reduces productivity up to 40%. The desire to multitask is an ineffective way to manage feeling overwhelmed. Set boundaries. Tell family members, partners, and colleagues when you need help or time alone. Exercise, a healthy diet, breathing techniques, spending time in nature, getting good sleep, making positive social connections—all of these can be very beneficial.
PC: What benefits to people’s physical and mental wellbeing do you see when people use these techniques?
JW: It improves people’s ability to cope with difficult situations. It’s really about becoming stronger. Increased resiliency is associated with being able to live longer, lowering rates of depression, and increasing feelings of positivity and hopefulness for the future. It can even give people space to enhance their problem-solving skills and productivity. When we’re exercising, sleeping well, and eating healthy, aches and pains and discomforts are reduced and our immune system is enhanced. We can also have more meaningful relationships because we’re less overwhelmed. When people are chronically stressed, it can increase their blood pressure and anxiety and cause insomnia and depression. We become much more susceptible to all of these challenges when we’re not actively taking care of ourselves.
PC: Are there signs that your resilience is depleted?
JW: Our ability to access the feeling of joy is a significant indicator. When we’re in survival mode 24/7, that emotion feels very far away. You may also notice you have a very short fuse. Insomnia is a big warning sign that you’re having trouble downregulating your nervous system. Aches and pains may pop up more frequently. Your body is telling you to take care of yourself.
PC: People often see the new year as a time to make a new start. Does resilience play a role in our ability to maintain that new start?
JW: Often, we create resolutions around trying to fix ourselves because we believe something is wrong. That mindset sets us up to build goals around shame rather than self-compassion and shame is not a great motivator. When I talk about setting goals with my clients, I talk about adding something small to everyday life rather than focusing on what to eliminate. For example, if your goal is to eat healthier, try incorporating a vegetable or drinking more water. When you accomplish a small goal, then you can build on that step by step. That mindset of adding rather than eliminating is more sustainable, builds more self-compassion, and is more likely to nourish us emotionally and physically. When we want to add new habits and practices into our lives, it’s really helpful to think about habit stacking. This means stacking habits onto existing behaviors. For example, if you have coffee every day, remind yourself to practice breathing techniques during or right after drinking your coffee. When we attach a new practice onto an existing practice, our ability to create a new habit becomes much more feasible.
PC: Do you have advice for people who feel burnt out at work or at home?
JW: Healthy habit stacking is a good place to start. I also recommend blocking off midday time to move or find stillness and peace for 10-20 minutes. This could include doing desk yoga, making yourself a cup of tea, or getting some air. These kinds of breaks provide a release for stress and help us reenergize our bodies and minds for the rest of the day. I also use a concept called pencils down. At a certain point in the day, it’s time to be done with the day and focus on self-care and connections with people we love. Many people who are working from home find themselves working 24/7 and that is a fast-track to burnout.