Daily Resilience: Growing Resilience

One of the best things about the resilient zone is that it can grow! This is because our brain adapts as we grow in managing our stress.

The resilient zone is a concept from Social Resilience Model and is the space in which we function at our best. When I first learned about this it seemed vague. A simple way to think about this is that it is the zone where we experience balance between calm and stress.

This does require us to pay attention to our body and mind to see how we are experiencing stress and calmness. When I pay attention to myself I know I am getting stressed by noticing my heart is beating faster, having a pit feeling in my stomach, tightness in my chest, my body starts to clinch up, and my thoughts become scattered. In comparison when I am feeling calm I notice I’m breathing deeper, my shoulders and body relaxes, the tightness in my chest loosens, and my thoughts become more cohesive. This is what it looks like for me, but it is important to notice what stress and calm looks like for you.

As we build resilience we are able to tolerate more stress and have more balance. When our resilient zone is small we can become overwhelmed by stress more easily and it can become more difficult to calm ourselves. Often our resilient zone in smaller because we have experienced trauma in our lives or have been stuck in one of the survival modes, flight, fight, fawn, or freeze, for long periods of time.

Author Matthew Bennett talks about a great analogy of this concept using various sized glasses. In his book Connecting Paradigms A Trauma-Informed & Neurological Framework for Motivational Interviewing Implementation, Bennett discusses the concept that being outside of our resilient zone is like having a cup that is overflowing. When our cup or resilient zone is smaller it does not take much for the cup to overflow or for us to be overwhelmed by stress. But as we practice tools to build resilience our cup gets bigger and we can withstand more without being overwhelmed.

There are many ways that we can build resilience. But one of the most powerful things we can do is to notice and pay attention to our body and mind. Tracking within ourselves and paying attention to ourselves is powerful and can help us to see the resilience we already have and allow us to build even more resilience. This doesn’t have to be complicated and can be simply noticing or journaling about your observations.


Bennett, M. (2017). Connecting Paradigms A Trauma-Informed & Neurological Framework for Motivational Interviewing Implementation. Bennett Innovation Group, L3C.

Daily Resilience: Communication

Resilience & Communication

Our resilience impacts how we communicate!! When we are in our resilient zone we are able to communicate a lot better then when we are in a survival mode.

When we are overwhelmed, stressed, or triggered out of our resilient zone it is very difficult to problem solve and think situations through. The reason is because when we are in these spaces our brain tunnels are thoughts more towards just reacting to survive instead of processing with our thinking brain. In this situation we might experience these communication difficulties:

  • Reacting aggressively to the people around us
  • Overreacting or reacting inappropriately
  • Difficulty problem solving

This can also have huge impacts on our relationships and feeling safe within ourselves.

In comparison, when we are in our resilient zone we are able to problem solve, respond thoughtfully, and think through the situations around us. This is because we are processing the situations around us with our thinking brain, meaning we are able to intentionally think through and respond instead of just reacting to survive. This can allow us to thrive, work towards our goals, and make intentional choices to create better relationships and circumstances.

Take Away

When I am noticing myself reacting instead of thinking through a response or feeling overly stressed and having difficulty communicating I have learned to take a pause. For me this often looks like walking away taking deep breaths, grounding by focusing on a surface around me, or redirecting my thoughts to something that brings me joy. These activities often allow me to calm and think through what’s going on. If I am overreacting because of a trauma trigger then I will ground myself by reminding myself where I am, that I am safe, and just orient myself to my present moment. Often when we are triggered it it is because our focus is on something that happened in the past.

Daily Resilience: Barriers to Resilience

Barriers to Building Resilience

Weathering through life can be so difficult. Throughout our life we display resilience by moving forward when things get hard. When we talk about building resilience, we are talking about how to expand our resilient zone. Living in our resilient zone allows us to not be overcome by stress or consumed by traumatic triggers. In the resilient zone we experience a balance between calm and stress. This balance allows us to creative problem solve, think clearly, and thrive. There are two main barriers to building resilience:

  1. Stress: stress can be toxic to our physical and mental health. There is no way to completely avoid stress, but when we live in stress for long periods of time it can have a huge impact on us. This can be a barrier for us when trying to build resilience or even to experience balance of calm and stress. Often in these circumstances we can start to live in survival modes, which can impact our relationships, health, reactions, and the quality of our lives.
  2. Unresolved Trauma: Trauma has an impact on our body in so many ways. It not only impacts us emotionally, but it also changes the way our brain processes information and circumstances. It can change how we interpret safety, our relationships, how we view ourselves, and others. Trauma has an incredible impact on our bodies. But there is hope! As we heal, process, and resolve trauma we can experience balance, safety, and building resilience.

Overcoming Barriers

These might seem like pretty big barriers, but here are some practical ways to consider overcoming these barriers!

Overcoming Stress:

The greatest combat for stress within our body is calm and relaxation. Try these things for increasing calm and decreasing stress:

  • Do a grounding exercise. This can be as simple as just focusing in on a solid surface supporting you or focusing your attention on one of your five senses.
  • Think of something you enjoy doing. This is also called resourcing. Think about your favorite hobby, memory, and place and allow yourself to think about all the things you love or experience when you are doing that activity.
  • Distraction can also be helpful. Sometimes shifting to thinking about something you are grateful for, something positive that happened during your day, or just doing a brain exercise can be a great distraction. When I need to distract myself I often choose a letter in the alphabet and think of or say out loud all the words I can think of that start with that letter. I love word games so this is a good distraction for me.

Resolving Trauma

We can experience trauma in several different forms and trauma is unique to each person. Because of this there is no simple answer to resolving trauma. One important consideration when thinking about resolving trauma, is considering if you are still in the situation, relationship, or circumstance where you experienced trauma? Are you feeling safe? When we are in ongoing situations that are traumatizing it can be difficult to begin resolving trauma, Definitely if you are in a situation where you are experiencing abuse or exploitation, consider reaching out to a local domestic violence shelter, police, or the domestic violence hotline.

You are the expert of your life. You know what you need in a time when you have experienced a traumatic experience. But here are some things to consider when working to resolve trauma:

  • Practicing Acceptance: This does not mean condoning what happened, but to simply accept that this occurred and is apart of your story, but that it does not define your whole story. Accepting ourselves and our experiences can be freeing.
  • Recognizing Triggers: This can be difficult and is not necessarily easy to work through. But noticing what causes a survival response or what causes us to have a large emotional response can be helpful in seeing what is unresolved. When identifying these things it can feel overwhelming. Take time to notice and shift your attention to something else that brings your joy or something positive. An example of this is I recently learned of a policy at work that I was unaware of for years, but everyone else knew about it. Though this seems small and my response could have been to learn and then transition to practicing the correct protocol, I felt overwhelmed by all this emotion. In reality my reaction, emotions, and the negative thoughts that were triggered had nothing to do with the policy at work. It was really about something that happened to me years ago where everyone else knew something and I didn’t. Once I found out years later, I felt shame, embarrassed , and let down that I hadn’t looked deeper into what was going on around me. I did not know that previous situation had impacted me so much and it allowed me to recognize that it was something I needed to process and work through.
  • Mental Health Services: This is not a helpful solution for everyone, but it can be a helpful process to be able to work through trauma and make sense of our feelings and thoughts about what has happened to us.
  • Journal: Journaling can be a safe space to process and work through your feelings. Journaling has helped me get through difficult and traumatic experiences. You can start by just writing out what you’re thinking about, writing your story in third person, or just doing a word dump and just writing out everything on your mind.

Daily Resilience

Resilience looks different for all of us, but the one thing that is the same is that it allows us to carry on when life gets hard. There are many ways that we live out our resilience every day. One of my favorite things about resilience is that it can grow! The basic way we grow resilience is by learning to balance the stress we feel inwardly with calm. When we have this balance, we are in our resilient zone.

The picture above depicts the resilient zone, which is a concept from Social Resilience Model. We are able to be our best selves and think more clearly when we are not overwhelmed by stress. The goal is to have an eb and flow of stress and calm so that we are not controlled by the stress and living in survival mode.

What helps you to feel calm?

When is a time when you felt resilient?

Blooming Resilience

What does it look like to be resilient or to grow in resilience? Today we are going to focus in on growing resilience by mastering our sensations and utilizing our nervous system. Our body first experiences everything through our sensations. That is the primary language of our body and directly relates to how we experience stress, trauma, and calmness. Because of this it is very important to build resilience through our body’s natural language of sensations.

When I was first learning about sensations and resilience it was a foreign idea to me. It was strange to tune into my body and notice sensations I felt when stressed, relaxed, or triggered by a past trauma. But taking time to pay attention to our bodies and understand how it is communicating through internal sensations is essential to growing in resilience. For some of us it might be uncomfortable to pay attention to our body because of past traumas. So we have to be patient with ourselves. Healing takes time and is not a linear journey.


Trauma victims cannot recover until they become familiar with and befriend the sensations in their bodies. Being frightened means that you live in a body that is always on guard. Angry people live in angry bodies. The bodies of child-abuse victims are tense and defensive until they find a way to relax and feel safe. In order to change, people need to become aware of their sensations and the way that their bodies interact with the world around them. Physical self-awareness is the first step in releasing the tyranny of the past.

In my practice I begin the process by helping my patients to first notice and then describe the feelings in their bodies—not emotions such as anger or anxiety or fear but the physical sensations beneath the emotions: pressure, heat, muscular tension, tingling, caving in, feeling hollow, and so on. I also work on identifying the sensations associated with relaxation or pleasure. I help them become aware of their breath, their gestures and movements.

All too often, however, drugs such as Abilify, Zyprexa, and Seroquel, are prescribed instead of teaching people the skills to deal with such distressing physical reactions. Of course, medications only blunt sensations and do nothing to resolve them or transform them from toxic agents into allies.

The mind needs to be reeducated to feel physical sensations, and the body needs to be helped to tolerate and enjoy the comforts of touch. Individuals who lack emotional awareness are able, with practice, to connect their physical sensations to psychological events. Then they can slowly reconnect with themselves.”

Bessel A. van der Kolk, The Body Keeps the Score: Brain, Mind, and Body in the Healing of Trauma

Resilience, Coping with Stress and Crisis. Emotional and Psychological Ability Illustration Sign. Vector Design. by juliabatsheva

The ideal state for us to be in to grow in resilience is the resilient zone. This is a concept founded by Threshold Global Works. Being in this zone is important because it is where we can experience a natural eb and flow of stress and calm. This eb and flow allows us to experience stress but for it not to build up to unhealthy levels. When there is this type of rhythm our body is able to release the stress before it triggers us to be in survival modes.

This is a depiction of the resilient zone. When we are in the resilient zone we are balanced, adaptable, flexible, able to creative problem solve, and to respond instead of react. In this zone we function at our best. This is because we have full access to our brain and logical processing. When we are bumped out of our resilient zone, our brain signals to our body to release stress hormones, which limits our ability to logically process situations.

All of us have different capacities for how much stress we can manage. Author Matthew Bennett, gives a great visual in his books using cups. All of us have different size resilient zones like having different size cups that can hold certain amounts of stress (Bennett, 2017). When our cup is overflowing with stress we are out of our resilient zone.

Set with different types of coffee drinks on white background by New Africa

How can we grow in our resilience or grow the size of our cup? One of the tools to use is attention. Paying attention to how your body responds to stress and relaxation. We can practice this by tracking or noticing the sensations in our body when we are feeling overwhelmed or when we are joyful or in a situation that brings us feelings of peace. Another tool is grounding. When you are feeling stressed or even just as a daily practice it is nice to take a moment and just notice the support of the floor or your chair. Put all of your attention to that support and notice what sensations you feel in your body when you do that. Notice you breath, your muscle tension, and sensations. Consider taking time today or this week to notice the sensations in your body and practice grounding.

Grounding Activity
Social Resilience Model Grounding Script



Bennett, M. (2017). Connecting Paradigms A Trauma-Informed & Neurological Framework for Motivational Interviewing Implementation. Bennett Innovation Group, L3C.

Threshold Globalworks, founder of Social Resilience Model. Welcome To Threshold Globalworks – Threshold GlobalWorks

Van Der Kolk, B. (2021). Body Keeps the Score. Audiobook. Narrated by Sean Pratt.