Over the course of many years I’ve had the honor and pleasure of working with men and women who have blown me away with their ability to regroup in the face of adversity. How do they do it? Well, the tools they use are surprisingly simple.
As I explained in Fight Fat after Forty, they shared with me important techniques that helped them stay focused and successful in the long run.
First, each found a support system. When life throws you a curve ball, having someone there to listen, empathize and perhaps offer help is key. One used her best friend; another used her book club; one even used her dog to jog with! Your fridge is not a friend. You’re just using it to numb yourself from the pain of some life struggle. Call a friend, take a walk or hit the sack early and get some rest. That box of cookies is not the answer.
People who are good at regrouping tap into their own belief systems to help them navigate life’s speed bumps. A Harvard study reveals that people with a strong belief system had greater rates of survival and healing from surgery. The study also showed that those with no belief system often struggled with healing. Flo Jo the sprinter lived by three words she plastered all over her house--- Believe. Achieve. Succeed. One follows the other. It all starts with the belief that you don’t have to self destruct every time stress happens.
And don’t forget about joy and laughter. My patients taught me that these two ingredients reduce stress hormones and keep them under control for hours. A Stanford University psychiatrist showed that children laugh more than 400 times every day--but an adult laughs fewer than a dozen times each day. Get the message? Successful re-groupers focused on leading a cheerful and sharing life; and laughing often. Humor reduces stress hormones, boosts your immune system, and most important: relaxes you!
When you regroup, it’s important to learn lessons from past experiences to apply as you go forward. So, I recommend keeping a journal. Make it a special one: go to the stationery or card store, and pick one that you know is special. Pick one that you will treasure as you jot down notes to yourself. And don’t censor yourself either. Be frank--and honest. Write down when you feel stressed, and make an immediate association between eating and the event as it occurs during the day.
Today, as you take that deep breath and launch into your routine, keep in mind that you have a whole arsenal of tools and techniques to get through each challenge. You can do this. Believe you can regroup and it will happen.