Restoring Resilience When It Wears Thin


Human beings are amazingly resilient. Our tendencies to self-correct, withstand our difficulties, and persevere are part of our genetic heritage.

Over time, our ability to bounce back can wear thin, and when it does we may experience symptoms of depression or anxiety. To restore resilience, psychiatrist Dr. Henry Emmons offers The Resilience Model.

Getting To The Root Of Things

Dr. Emmon’s model consists of seven interlaced recovery pathways that he calls the Roots of Resilience. The first three roots involve the physical body and what it needs to thrive. Our biochemical, energetic, and rhythmic body processes are the foundation of our resilience.

The fourth and fifth roots are the two aspects of our mind: thoughts and emotions. Our feelings and thoughts, when unhealthy, cause much of our suffering. Our resilience improves by learning to do less mental and emotional harm to our self.

The final two roots have to do with our heart and soul. The pathways of love and connection can take us beyond basic bounce-back resilience to a life with less space available for stress or anxiety.

The Seven Roots of Resilience

Dr. Emmon’s seven roots are a balanced and practical holistic approach to mind-body health.

  1. Balancing our brain chemistry is taking care of our biochemical body by eating nutritious foods, using supplements to address nutritional deficits, and taking medications when necessary.
  2. Managing our energy is naturally about our energetic, physical self that requires regular exercise, engaging activities, and possibly nutritional supplements.
  3. Aligning our self with nature keeps our rhythmic, cyclic body processes in sync. These processes include sleep, hormonal, activity-rest cycles, and creating balanced lifestyle habits.
  4. Calming the mind is becoming mindful of how our patterns of breath, movement, thought, and speaking affect our mood and well-being. By becoming aware of our harmful patterns, we can begin to disengage from them.
  5. Facing our emotions skillfully is becoming mindful of our inner emotional experience and focusing on each moment as it unfolds. Doing this helps us disengage from our habitual emotional reactions to events, and instead, choose an effective response to what is occurring—one that gets our needs met.
  6. Cultivating a good heart, or focusing on our capacity for love and compassion, means opening to self-acceptance, kindness, gratitude, and generosity of spirit.
  7. Creating connections involves our soul’s hunger for intimacy with others. Connectedness generates a sense of belonging and support that powerfully nurtures resilience.

Dr. Henry Emmons, The Chemistry of Calm, Touchstone, 2010.
Photo credit: Gerry Thomasen - flickr


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