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Top Three Tools For Stress Management & Building Inner Resources

At the heart of my Stress Resilience Blueprint are a set of five core skills which are the foundation of resilience. I've written about them more fully in another article (5 key stress resilience skills) but here they are again in brief:

  1. Mind-body awareness – awareness of body responses (inc. feelings) plus thinking, and crucially how these two relate to each other
  2. Attention – flexibility & stability of focus
  3. Letting go (1) – physical: ability to calm the body, reduce arousal & let go of tension.
  4. Letting go (2) – mental: ability to separate from thought, beliefs, narratives
  5. Accessing & sustaining positive emotion

My services and products aim to train and develop these skills. In the blueprint I also present my top three tools for training these skills. In this article I'm going to say a little more about them.

The three are:

  1. Biofeedback
  2. Mindfulness
  3. Positive psychology coaching

Let's look at these in more depth.

Biofeedback

Elsewhere I've said that the five skills I've listed are mind-body skills: they're about making the mind-body connection work for you rather than against you. Biofeedback is an ideal mind-body training tool, and it is the mainstay of my service offerings.

Biofeedback measures body responses and feeds them back to you in real time via a computer, so that you can become more aware of how the mind-body connection plays out in practice, and then on the basis of that you can learn to guide your biology into a more favourable and adaptive state.

Biofeedback is not a treatment but a tool for learning, and developing skills. It's not something you need to use for ever more, but on the other hand, the learning, and the benefits of the training, can stay with you for the longer term.

Biofeedback can create change in three ways:

  • By stimulating insight into how thoughts and feelings affect you, and how they condition each other, and how coping strategies can either help or make things worse.
  • Developing mind-body skills: the strategy is to learn to access (the physiology of) resourceful states such as calm, clear focus. Learning happens automatically in the brain, unmediated by the thinking, judging mind.
  • Building brain fitness: through exercise, you can build fitness in your brain so you're better able to handle stress as it arises in life.

I believe biofeedback can combine very effectively with the next tool: mindfulness.

Mindfulness

Mindfulness is an ancient form of mind training that builds qualities such as stability of focus, tranquillity, clarity, openness and contentment. Mindfulness first developed in Buddhism, but in recent years mindfulness based therapy (a secular form of mindfulness) has established itself, with research evidence showing it can help depression, anxiety, and symptoms linked to stress. Yet mindfulness is not itself a therapy, and nor is it a religious practice - it can help anyone, and it doesn't entail any particular belief system.

Mindfulness is the practice of being actively aware (or consciously paying attention) in the present moment, with a sense of openness, kindness and non-reactivity. By non-reactivity I mean neither grasping after pleasurable experiences, nor rejecting or struggling unpleasant experiences, but allowing qualities such as stillness and contentment to arise naturally. Also it means not judging yourself or your ability to be mindful as worthy or unworthy: when the mind wanders, as it inevitably does, you simply non-reactively return to your focus.

Mindfulness can be practised formally in meditation, but it's also an attitude that you can bring to potentially any part of life, such as washing up or walking.

Mindfulness can support all five of the resilience skills, but especially self-awareness, attention, and letting go. The qualities of openness and acceptance are at the heart of the mindfulness mindset.

Positive Psychology Coaching

Coaching is the art and science of facilitating learning and development, and behaviour and lifestyle change. It starts with establishing goals that capture your vision for what you want to become, and yet are specific and achievable. It's about personalising the learning process as you develop the skills needed to achieve your goals, and supporting your motivation.

Positive psychology is the science of optimal functioning, happiness and well-being. Before the positive psychology movement began, psychology focused almost exclusively on problems and suffering, but positive psychology asks, what do humans need to really thrive and flourish? Well-being is a broad concept with a number of components (which I discuss in this article on well-being).

The particular strength of positive psychology is in developing the fifth skill: accessing and sustaining positive emotion. Positive psychologists have developed a research-proven set of tools to this end.

Conclusion

Biofeedback, mindfulness and positive psychology are at the heart of my Stress Resilient Mind programme, which is designed to train and develop mind-body skills. Click here to learn more about the Stress Resilient Mind programme.

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THE STRESS RESILIENCE BLUEPRINT

I've created a summary statement of what everyone needs for effective stress management: how to work with anxiety, panic, irritability, fatigue, insomnia, brain fog, low mood and other stress-related symptoms.

This plan is a blueprint of what my services and products aim to deliver.

Sign-up to receive a one-page summary and watch a short video commentary.

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READ MORE ABOUT BIOFEEDBACK FOR STRESS MANAGEMENT

Mind-Body Intelligence

How To Manage Your Mind With Biofeedback & Mindfulness

Book by Glyn Blackett

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  • Underlying dynamics in stress & anxiety
  • Science of the mind-body connection & how it can be applied
  • Why breathing is at the heart of stress management
  • Practical models for framing self-control challenges & solutions
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