By Terence Humphreys

Spring sees many people invest time, effort and money on their physical appearance and outer health — gym fees, the latest haircut or designer clothes. One aspect often overlooked is our inner wellbeing and how we handle the stress and anxiety most of us face on a daily basis.
If we actively practise building our resilience (how we handle and bounce back from challenges) stressors can be handled much more effectively.
But what does building resilience mean when we live fast-paced lives juggling work, study, families, friends, and relationships?
While it is normal to experience some stress, that’s not always a bad thing. But when stress starts to build up, getting a good night’s sleep and healthy eating aren’t enough to help manage it and feel good again.
Building resilience is about learning from the things life throws at us and valuing those lessons — both of which can take some real effort. Practical tools like structured relaxation can help you build resilience.
Relaxation is the opposite state to feeling stressed or anxious but it’s more than lounging in front of the TV or having a beer at the end of the day. Structured relaxation can make a real difference to your stress levels.
Yoga and meditation are fantastic options. Both incorporate deep breathing which can have an instant effect and can be done anywhere, any time. Deep breathing involves taking a purposefully slow breath in, holding it briefly and slowly releasing it. You should notice your stomach expand as your breath fills your lower lungs. If you do this for even two minutes it will noticeably relax you.
When you’re stressed or anxious, it’s easy to neglect your own needs. Losing your appetite, skipping exercise or not getting enough sleep are common reactions to stressful situations.
Be proactive and take control of your relaxation. Take a walk outdoors, ideally in a park, by the harbour or at the beach. Play your favourite infectious tunes and dance like nobody is watching. Rent a comedy or spend time with people who make you laugh.
Like beach-ready abs or a spectacular spring garden, building your resilience won’t happen overnight but is an investment that takes time to build.
But by taking care of yourself and including structured relaxation, you can boost your wellbeing and resilience so you can better handle the challenges life throws your way.

info: During Mental Health Week, Carers NSW, ACON and GLCS will hold forums on Depression and Recovery. On October 7, the forum is on Wellbeing and on October 8, the forum is on Depression. Both forums start at 6.30pm and are at the Rex Centre, 58A Macleay St, Kings Cross. For more information please contact David on 9289 4249 or email [email protected]

Terence Humphreys is the volunteer and community education officer for Twenty10 and the Gay and Lesbian Counselling Service.

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