Defining Resilience Series: Step 5 – Healthy Habit Formation

Defining Resilience


Step 5: Work on Healthy Habit Formation

Before diving into step 5, a reminder about resilience: it is defined as the ability to overcome adverse conditions; with healthy bonding relationships, guidance, support, and compassion as the catalysts. Basically, it entails having the capacity to bounce back from stressful or overwhelming experiences.

What are some steps we can take to ensure we are building resilience in our lives?

  1. Focus on the positives. 
  2. Seek out and nurture supportive relationships.
  3. Utilize self-care strategies. 
  4. Take action steps to create positive change.
  5. Work on healthy habit formation. 
  6. Find a guiding hand to hold.
  7. Learn to become our own hero. 
  8. Be gentle with ourselves.

Today we will cover Step 5: Work on healthy habit formation.

Being an avid reader, particularly of self-help and trauma-related research books, I discovered the critical importance of habit change as a catalyst along my healing journey. One of the books that I talk about in my presentations is Breaking the Habit of Being Yourself: How to Lose Your Mind and Create a New One by Dr. Joe Dispenza. This book helped me understand that my brain was not hard-wired in a permanently damaged state due to circumstances beyond my control (i.e. traumatic events) and I had the power to change my habits, thereby creating new neuron pathways. I also practiced the book meditations regularly as a transformational tool.

Another book worth diving into is The Power of Habit: Why We Do What We Do in Life and Business by Charles Duhigg. One of the powerful lessons in this book, at least for me, was learning to replace “bad” habits with “good” ones. For instance, instead of merely telling myself “Teri, you need to stop eating junk food,” I instead took on a 30-day journey of whole food eating, creating a food diary, and teaching myself new recipes. I created incredibly healthy eating habits by educating myself on the benefits of healthy food choices. Transforming our habits is a powerful tool we can utilize as we continue along our healing journey.

Here are five action steps you can implement in your life in order to create positive change:

  • Create an action plan for replacing unwanted habits with desirable habits (or creating altogether new habits): Take that written goal and create a plan, filled with achievable steps, ideas, research information, and rewards. Instead of “lose weight” try “create a healthy menu, adding one whole food meal a day, eliminating any processed products during that particular meal; pack a bag of healthy snacks to carry with me at all times including fruits, vegetables, and nuts; limit fast food to once a week (or not at all!); move for thirty minutes every day in whatever way I choose in order to increase my heart rate, blood flow, and create a sense of well-being and achievement; watch YouTube videos on easy-to-make healthy recipes; read up on whole-food eating benefits; and reward myself for a month of healthy eating patterns with dinner at my favorite restaurant.”
  • Be gentle with yourself as you change old patterns: If you accomplish your goal without a single stumble, kudos to you! I applaud you and your determination. If, however, you experience a set-back or even give up all together your first (or second or third) attempt, please be easy on you. There’s an ancient saying that goes something like, “Old habits die hard.” Yeah, #truth. Give yourself a big hug, a pep talk, and then start again. You are creating a new habit where an old one has kept shop for a long time, most likely. If your new goal is, “Eliminate negative self-talk and replace it with positive affirmations,” but you find yourself beating yourself up on a bad day, praise yourself for now being aware of it and making an effort to change it. Then write yourself a thank you card, filled with positive affirmations, and maybe even mail it to yourself as a “surprise”.
  • Sing your own praises: Continuing with that thought from the previous step, yes, it’s okay to applaud your accomplishments and even your attempts, whether you failed or succeeded. Put a post out on social media when you’ve had a successful day with your new healthy habit formation and embrace the accolades from friends and family. You deserve the praise! Join a group and share your successes and your fall-on-your-face moments. By exposing your vulnerabilities, you will find strength in the connection with others who sing out, “Oh my gosh, me, too!” Notice your mile markers and talk about them: “Hey, it’s been a month since I quit drinking soda.” I am cheering you on from here . . . yay!
  • Reward yourself for goals attained: Make sure you reward yourself. Not just for the end product, but for all of the baby step accomplishments along the way. If you made it to ten exercise classes last month and “being more active” was on your healthy habit formation list, then treat yourself to some new workout clothes/shoes or a rockin’ headband or a new smoothie maker. If you volunteered twice this quarter and felt inspired to do more, then reward yourself by stepping into a leadership role within that organization. Rewards do not always have to be monetary. You deserve the reward of not only achieving your goal, but a special “thank you” to yourself for believing in YOU!

There are books, YouTube videos, mediation series, classes, websites, Facebook pages, and so much more dedicated to habit formation and the benefits of creating healthy and sustaining habits. Find what works for you. We all have that thing that jives with our soul, be it humor or depth or intellectual spirituality or wise-old-owl. Whatever it is that stirs you up, use that! If something doesn’t feel like a fit, move on. This is about YOU and YOUR journey. Do you.

Coming up next month: Step 6: Find a guiding hand to hold.
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Defining Resilience: Step 2 – Seek Out and Nurture Supportive Relationships

A sneak peak at a portion of my upcoming Hope for Healing newsletter scheduled for delivery August 1st. Subscribe at Hope for Healing newsletter or on my website at www.teriwellbrock.com. Thanks!

Defining Resilience

Step 2: Seek Out and Nurture Supportive Relationships

Before diving into step 2, a reminder about resilience: it is defined as the ability to overcome adverse conditions; with healthy bonding relationships, guidance, support, and compassion as the catalysts. Basically, it entails having the capacity to bounce back from stressful or overwhelming experiences.

What are some steps we can take to ensure we are building resilience in our lives?

  1. Focus on the positives
  2. Seek out and nurture supportive relationships.
  3. Utilize self-care strategies. 
  4. Take action steps to create positive change.
  5. Work on healthy habit formation. 
  6. Find a guiding hand to hold.
  7. Learn to become our own hero. 
  8. Be gentle with ourselves.

Today we will cover Step 2: Seek out and nurture supportive relationships.

The day my therapist said to me, in reference to my then-BFF, “Teri, you need to put some healthy boundaries in place,” I just stared at her befuddled. I truly had no idea what a “healthy boundary” looked like. Growing up in a co-dependent relationship with my alcoholic mother, I had spent my youth playing the part of the peace-keeper and “good girl” in order to create some sense of calm within the chaos. My sister and I have discussed, on many occasions, the impact physical abuse and emotional abandonment had on our future relationships. We agreed we had no concept how to even go about putting healthy boundaries in place and why that was critical for establishing and maintaining healthy relationships, friendships, and partnerships.

Here are five “healthy boundary” suggestions followed by five relationship-nurturing ideas to incorporate into your own life:

  • You are allowed to say “no”: Practice doing it. It may be difficult, at first, but you will soon reap the benefits of more time, less resentment, and empowerment within your own life and decisions. If you do not want to do something, then don’t do it. And if someone is upset by that then you know that relationship needs some boundary work!
  • Expand your circle: One of the first indications that I was in an unhealthy friendship with poor boundaries was when I was criticized by that friend for becoming more involved in my daughter’s school activities and developing new friendships. Broadening my circle and developing a tribe of supportive souls not only shined a light on the unhealthy patterns, but helped me create new healthier habits within those friendships.
  • Notice any unhealthy habits: I had a tendency to latch on with a death-grip, almost to the point of obsession, to those who loved me even after knowing all of my deep, dark secrets. I had such a deep-seated fear of abandonment that I would spend more time trying to keep the peace and play along, even when I disagreed with something, that I lost myself in the process. Once I started to become aware of my unhealthy habits, I was able to re-direct myself toward healthy boundaries.
  • Be honest: I kept quiet for far too many years because I was afraid that speaking up would result in being left. Once I realized that I was entitled to have not only my opinion but a voice to speak it, and that the reactions of others, whether they sent me packing or not, had nothing to do with me and everything to do with where they were on their own journey, I found solace. There is a release that happens in accepting “abandonment”. Knowing others might walk away when you put healthy boundaries in place is an indication that they still have work to do in their own lives. However, many will stick with you as you learn to speak your truth, and even more will gravitate toward you.
  • Know your worth: Knowing your worth on every level and protecting it are critical to maintaining supportive and healthy relationships. Your healthy boundaries include physical (no one should touch you in a harmful way), emotional (being ridiculed is unacceptable behavior from others), spiritual (you are most assuredly entitled to your beliefs), cognitive (mind-games can be a controlling aspect in particular relationships, especially those involving narcissists). Be sure to utilize positive affirmations and practice them daily (“I am worthy”, “I am kind”, “I am lovable”, etc.).
As you move away from toxic relationships, you will notice a shift occurring as those healthier habits attract more positivity into your life. Use this as an opportunity to create new friendships. Reach out to others in support and notice as they return the gesture. Some ideas to consider:
  1. Join groups that spark your passion or pique your interest – such as volunteering at an animal shelter, a rock-climbing club, your church choir, a car enthusiasts group, a small business association, etc.
  2. Reach out to those who allow you your boundaries – notice new people who come across your path and respect those boundaries.
  3. Engage in support groups (in person or online) – such as Al-Anon, parenting groups through mental health agencies, faith courses offered through churches, etc.
  4. Write thank you notes, texts or emails to those who offer supportive roles in your life – offering gratitude for the positive support not only keeps it in perspective for you, but helps others realize the impact they are having in the lives of others.
  5. Offer your support to others – by reaching out a helping hand you can start to develop reciprocal relationships in which you help one another when needed.