THE BODY UNDER STRESS Understanding and Optimizing Your Stress System

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Submitted by Mulzim R. Fidai,
 MAVA National CDR.

WHAT IS RESILIENCE? One common definition of “resilience” is the ability to meet challenges and bounce back or re-balance during or after difficult experiences. Resilience may not be the best word for it, but it’s the best word we have so far.
If you’re not sure how resilience is different from strengths, skills or resources, know that it’s more important to have it than to know exactly what to call it.
Everybody has resilience (it’s G-d given). You have strengths, skills and resources in many areas of life – the body, brain, thoughts, feelings, family, friends, values, beliefs, education, training, work, military experience, finances, sports, creativity, spirituality and even goofing off.
These all add to your resilience, and the fact that you’re resilient – that you’re able to live through difficult things and learn from them – helps build your strengths, skills and resources even more.
Inside resilience is:
Beliefs – Faith, etc.
Outside Resilience is:
Information organizations
Nature, etc.
Skills are:
Natural talents
Learn/practice skills
Others strengths:
Skills and resources
Some people have an easy time finding and discovering their resilience, and others have it harder. This can sometimes be traced back to one’s earlier experiences.
Two people can lead very similar lives, but one ends up feeling strong and confident and the other has a lot of self-doubt. Is it genetics? Is it free choice, or both?
Is it something somebody said that was done to them when they were young? Divine intervention?
It’s different from person to person.
People who are aware of their own capabilities often have just as much trouble as people who aren’t aware of theirs. They tend to discount the courage they show every day.
In tough times, just getting out of bed, stepping through the door, and showing up for a difficult task can be a sign of great strength and courage.
When your stress system is out of balance, you have more challenges to manage and overcome – on many levels of life – and you might have less confidence in being resilient.
The changes in your stress system have probably ramped up the chemicals that mess with your confidence and tapered down the chemicals that would otherwise add to your confidence.
You might think of resilience as including a number of traits (things about you and who you are) and skills that keep you in balance and make it possible for you to meet challenges and bounce back or return to balance after difficult times.
The Armed Forces have been focusing a lot on resilience, both for service members and for families. You might want to start and keep a Resilience Journal.
That could be as simple as a pocket-sized notebook that you carry with you. Then whenever you think of it, you can write down resilience traits or skills you’ve noticed in yourself, or things you’ve said or done that have shown strength and/or resilience.
Are these things you’ve always had? How have you worked on them? What about your physical strength, physical flexibility, stamina, speed, ability to rest and relax?
What about your emotional strength in  creativity, courage to face your fears, insight into yourself, intuition about people and events, or empathy for others’ pain.
Do you have social strengths?  Having friends you trust, people who are there for you, you being there for others, being at ease with people and putting others at ease.
What about family?  Accepting family members, being considerate of family, being comfortable with family, working through problems or having fun.
Last but not least, spiritual strengths:  Sense of mission/purpose, selfless service, honesty, integrity, honor, forgiveness (for self and others), spiritual faith and discipline.
Muslim American Veteran Association National Commander
1519 Islamic Way (4th St.), N.W.
Washington, D.C. 20001
Office (202) 483-8832 ext. 7


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