Resilience Hack #2: Choose not to live in an affection desert.Apr 30, 2019
Today’s resilience hack is designed to boost self-compassion and help you become your own inner ally! Two critical features of developing self-acceptance – an essential psychological requirement of resilience.
What’s the biggest sense organ in the body? Congratulations if you said our skin. From our very first moments we respond physically, emotionally and neurologically to touch. Studies have shown that positive, physical interactions between people, and contact between humans and animals release oxytocin, a neurotransmitter that sends soothing ‘messages’ to regulate feelings of fear, increase calm and wellbeing, and reduce stress-reactions.
Touch is something we can all use. It costs virtually nothing (except for a brief investment of time in a very short exercise). A 30 second exercise has been shown to have positive neurological benefits lasting up to 30 minutes.
Unfortunately, studies show many of us are living in an affection desert when it comes to touch. Psychologist Sidney Jourard studied the conversations of friends in different parts of the world as they sat in a café together. He observed these conversations for the same amount of time in each of the different countries. His findings? In the country of my birth, England, friends touched each other a total of zero times! In the US they touched each other twice. However, in France the number increased to 110 times per hour and in Puerto Rico, friends touched each other 180 times! In this resilience hack you will learn how to get in touch with the benefits of touch but without a café, a French person or Puerto Rican and self-soothe your way out of an affection desert.
So, onto hack #2. Get your touch on. For this hack you will need a hand, heart and stomach. Quickly locate them.
Hand on Heart: Self Compassion Break. The phrase ‘hand on heart’ is often taken to mean someone is being truthful; they really mean what they are saying. The same is true about this self-compassion exercise. Putting your hand over your heart is a way to take a self-compassion break, get in touch with your ‘authentic’ self and practice a little bio-feedback. To use this hack:
- Place your hand over your heart and rest it there, gently. You don’t need to add any pressure.
- Acknowledge the reality of the situation (not your performance), ‘this is really hard’, ’that was a tough experience’, or ‘this is tough’.
- With your hand over your heart say any of these statements to yourself:
- “I will be strong”.
- “I can give myself room to breathe”
- “What do I need in this moment of struggle?”
Gut Check hack. Place both hands on your stomach. Gently placing your hands over your tummy can be both soothing and a way to utilize the healing power of touch. As you breathe in and out feel how your hand gently rises and falls with the rhythm of your breathing.