What are these healthful practices?
According to researchers like Peter Levine (2012), Bessel van der Kolk (2014), Nadine Burke-Harris (2018), and Nagoski and Nagoski (2019), the keys to thriving beyond adversity are:
- Caring, trustworthy relationship(s) in which you feel and facilitate senses of belonging with one another, mutually experience senses of being heard, seen, and valued, and can express healthy physical affection
- Nourishing food and hydration. More than maintaining a "healthy diet," it is important, especially in times of crisis, that you are hydrated and fuel yourself with food that not only nourishes your body but nourishes your spirit as well. Taking time, before a crisis, to learn the seasonings and styles of cooking that lift your spirits can make a great difference in the choices you make during times of emergency.
- Sleep and rest. Again, paying attention to how your body feels restored will help you make key decisions about what will sustain you during long-term recovery. Regular, full REM cycles, or deep sleep cycles, give your an opportunity to physically and emotionally heal itself. Also, allowing your brain to have mental breaks from focusing its attention, periodically throughout each day, allows your brain to rest and is proven to make you think more efficiently when your return from attention breaks. These breaks may include providing your family or friends with undivided, work-free, attention for some time. Or taking a walk or exercising. Or doing more manageable tasks like housework, yard work, reading, drawing or painting, writing, cooking, working on mechanics that are not work related, and so forth.
- Self-regulating, including practicing forms of meditation, prayer, calming, soothing, tempering, and relaxation. It can sometimes feel like these may be denying what is going on or what has happened. Or, these can feel, perhaps, not as exciting as the experience of adrenaline rushes. But these acts help sustain you through the long haul of repair and healing after disaster. They, especially, help you maintain access to your training, common sense, and mental agility, rather than becoming reactive.
- Movement. Our bodies thrive when they move on a regular basis, throughout the day. If you find yourself sitting or standing for long hours, especially in response to a crisis, it is important that you figure out methods that work best for you to move and stretch your body throughout the day. Otherwise, you will find your body developing a range of physical symptoms which restrict your ability to respond in healthy ways.
Perhaps what is most compelling about research into the practices that help sustain resiliency is that these acts often are the very elements that make up a community's culture. The food, the dance, the art, the patterns of rest, the family gatherings and neighborly interactions. These are the very things – research is showing – that we ought to embrace in times of crisis and not neglect.
In what ways do you or your community maintain healthy cultural practices, even and especially in times of crisis? How have you seen these practices sustain you? Share in the comments below.