In this podcast, I talk about 3 ways to build your resilience in the face of pivotal events. Pivotal events are anything they can be anything from an arrest to a loss of a job, a divorce, a breakup, maybe a big birthday, definitely a pandemic, and the languishing that surrounds that it could be a loss, a trauma, a realization that I’m on the wrong path or time is passing me by.
People always ask me, What do I do with these events? How come something like this event has completely thrown me off my course. Either they’re in a deep depression, or they’ve turned to alcohol or drugs or gambling or sex, or any of the other addictions we seem to find. And they’re just not sure how they ended up there.
Expressive Writing to help build your resilience
Expressive writing helps us to process adversity, improve our health, and build our resilience. But you don’t need to take my advice! There have been 3 decades of research on expressive writing. The research shows “emotional writing” can improve people’s physical and emotional health.
According to a 2019 study, a 6 week writing intervention increases resilience, and decreases depressive symptoms, perceived stress, and rumination. Thirty-five percent of the participants who began the program with indicators of likely clinical depression ended the program no longer meeting this criterion.
Although journaling for stress management has been extensively studied, you’ve probably already experimented with this concept and didn’t realize or think much about it!
When you were a teenager, you might have kept a journal hidden away from your parents. It was a place to confess your struggles, fears, or latest heartbreaks. It felt good to get all of those thoughts and feelings down on paper. The world seemed clearer.
Or for a moment, think back to those creative writing classes you took in high school. How did you feel afterwards? What do you remember?
Well, our high school days may be a distant memory. But the concept, and it’s benefits still apply! Now it’s called journaling or stress journaling. You write down your thoughts and feelings in order to understand them better.
Journaling helps you control your symptoms and regulate or improve your mood by:
Writing Bravely home page. Write with me!
Hi, I’m Dr. Adina Silvestri, the founder at Life Cycles Counseling. I am a Licensed Professional Counselor, Certified Clinical Hypnotherapist, and Certified Brainspotter in Richmond, Virginia.
As a therapist, I specialize in treating women with substance abuse and eating disorders and men with depression. I like to refer to myself as equal parts Shame Fighter and Hope Merchant!
In addition to my clinical work, I started an online expressive writing group, Writing Bravely, which works to improve people’s physical and psychological health by writing your way through to your future self.
(Disclaimer: This transcript is using AI technology. Please excuse any errors.)
Welcome to this special writing bravely podcast series where we write our way through to the other side. I'm your host, Dr. Adina Silvestri. Join me here and at writing bravely.com to talk about how a creative act like writing can move us through the healing process.
Adina Silvestri 0:22
Bonjour, guys, and welcome to Episode One of the Writing Bravely series. Boy, that sounds strange to say. So today is the first in our seven part series. And we're going to talk a little bit about what that means towards the end with the series is what it will consist of. But before we get there, we have to talk about resilience. We're here to talk about resilience in the face of pivotal events. And let's just jump right in. The quote that I really love that I think, lends itself well to this episode is never let a good crisis go to waste. Winston Churchill. So let's talk a little bit about what are pivotal events. And then we'll switch to how these events impact us. We'll throw in a little window of tolerance. And what we need at this time, what do we do with these events? How do we basically not let them go to waste? All right, so pivotal events, pivotal events are anything they can be anything from an arrest to a loss of a job, a divorce, a breakup, maybe a big birthday, definitely a pandemic, and the languishing that surrounds that it could be a loss, a trauma, a realization that I'm on the wrong path or time is passing me by. And I think I'll stop there with the list. I am sure you by now, understand that these are big events. And so people always ask me, What do I do with these events? How come something like this event has completely thrown me off my course. Either they're in a deep depression, or they've turned to alcohol or drugs or gambling or sex, or any of the other addictions we seem to find. And they're just not sure how they ended up there. So this is what we're going to talk about today. So how do these pivotal events impact us? Well, for one, they can be emotionally overwhelming. They interfere with our self, our perception of self, and they definitely will interfere with our relationships or primary relationships. You might start to snap at the people that you love, and just be all around irritable, short tempered, or maybe you just are completely disengaged, almost numb. So if this sounds like you, or if you find that you have a hard time regulating your emotional response, sometimes you'll you'll just feel overwhelmed. In times of stress, if this sounds like you, this could be this could have something to do with your window of tolerance. And I'm also going to link to a great podcast episode that I did with Dr. Liz regarding window of tolerance, it goes into a lot more detail. So I'll link to that in the show notes. But in brief, let's talk about window of tolerance. This is a term coined by Dr. Dan Siegel. And it is commonly used to understand and describe normal brain body reactions, especially following adversity. The concept suggests that we have an optimal arousal level when we are within the window of tolerance that allows us to ebb and flow. The ups and downs of just everyday life of emotions.
However, when we're stuck on in quotes or stuck off in quotes, is when we experience problems like anxiety and Rage. sleeplessness is a big one. And Dr. Liz and I talked a lot about that in her episode. Addictions are on the spectrum of depression, maybe disassociation. So that's when we're stuck on when we're in hyper arousal or when we're stuck off when we're in hypo arousal. hyper arousal is when you're, as you're really up, or you're just very anxious, like we just said, we're anxious, and maybe you're trying to substances. Hypo arousal is when you're almost on the depression spectrum. You're numb, you're disassociating, things like that. So what do we do with this information? Never let a good crisis go to waste. What do we do with all of this information? How do we prepare? How do we build our resilience? Well, the good news is, we can definitely build our resilience. And it starts with awareness. Awareness of when you're outside of the window of tolerance. And that's really step number one. And then from there, you can work on your mental flexibility. And there's a sequence for this. And I'll link to a book that I got the sequence from actually, it's a learned behavior. We adapt to the changes at hand, we can follow these three beliefs. And the first belief is optimism about the future. The second is confidence in our ability to cope. And the third is willingness to think about a threat as a challenge. And then, how do we make sense of all this? Well, I feel that writing is a great way to make sense of all of this. And research suggests that trauma damages brain tissue, all the things that we talked about as pivotal events, those are also considered trauma, a small t. So damage is brain tissue. But when people translate their emotional experience into words, they may be changing the way it's organized in the brain. This is based on James Pennebaker studies and I talked about his studies in the transition episode, Episode 116, you can I'll link to that as well in the show notes. And his studies have been replicated many times since the 1980s. So there's, so this is these are empirical studies. And so that's, that's it. That's how we build our resilience. Easy, right? Not easy. But I love that writing is just so accessible to everyone. And I know, I'm going to be talking a lot about writing throughout these next seven episodes. But I'll also be talking about various topics throughout as well. various topics that I've found, have helped people move from, you know, just being stuck, you know, just having their mask fall off and just thinking, Oh, my God, now what now what do I do? It may be therapy wasn't for them, or maybe they need something as an adjunct to therapy. And, and I know for myself, writing has been that thing that has helped me the most. And I also know that I get to this question over and over again, Tina, can we skip the painful stuff and get right to the healing. And I'm hoping that this writing bravely podcast series will address these questions as well. I'm going to be releasing the series probably in chunks because of my time schedule, but I'll be releasing them fairly soon after this first episode. These first couple of episodes, I'll release the next four, maybe a couple of days after that, or within a week after that. So they're all going to drop fairly close to one another. It just sort of depends on when I can get them done. So that's it.
I hope you enjoyed the three ways to build your resilience in the face of pivotal events. And you can head over to writing bravely.com To learn more about writing with me and maybe even schedule a call see if you'd be a good fit for the group and the group. I am excited to announce we'll start June 27 Alright guys, thanks for listening. Bye
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