How buoyant are you? Do you consider yourself to be resilient and strong? Do you thrive through challenges and bounce back from adversity? Do you engage positively with the blessings in your life and keep any turmoil in perspective? Or are you easily overwhelmed? Do you instead feel powerless and as though bad things always happen to you? Are you expecting the next catastrophe to be lurking just around the corner? When the catastrophe comes (which it must if you are waiting for it) do you then throw your hands up with despair and surrender to it?
Both mindsets and approaches are options that we can choose to engage with. We can’t always change the external circumstances in our lives, but we can do a lot to build our buoyancy so that we are able to face those circumstances in a way that better supports our mental health and wellbeing.
Buoyancy refers to our capacity to ride the tide of life. There are three levels of buoyancy that we need to develop.
High Tide of Challenges
Firstly there is the buoyancy we need when we’re experiencing a High Tide of challenges. It helps us to stand up to those bigger waves, and helps us bounce back when challenges occur. To deal with High Tide challenges we need to have good stress agility – we need to know how to manage stress in the moment, and ongoing stress. We need realistic thought processes as well as good resources and supports to avoid becoming overwhelmed. We need to be able to stay focussed on dealing proactively with the challenges, rather than being dunked under the waves, struggling for breath.
Ebb and Flow
Secondly, there is the everyday Ebb and Flow – the state in which you are floating along. You are strong and stable, flexible enough to move with the tide when required, yet not overwhelmed by little bumps in the ocean. It’s about not making a mountain out of a molehill or needing to jump from one drama to the next. It’s about us just being. To support our capacity to deal with the Ebb and Flow we need to be able to keep perspective when challenges occur. We need to ensure that we are not overreacting and look after our health and relationships proactively.
Low Tide of Challenges
The third level of buoyancy is something that surprisingly many people struggle with. It is the freedom to experience and celebrate the joy of life when our challenges are at Low Tide. This is the capacity to enjoy life when all of the problems have disappeared out to sea, and only the jewels of the ocean (the shells and other treasures exposed by the receding tide) are on display. This is when things are good. It requires an openness to celebrate our achievements and to celebrate the achievements of others, rather than looking for the next crisis. It requires us to celebrate the blessings that we have and to be grateful for the positives in our life.
As well as focusing on where we are heading, it is important that we also acknowledge and recognise the positives about where we already are. Cultivating an attitude of gratitude is extremely good for your emotional wellbeing. It helps you to enjoy your life day to day and to keep perspective when challenges take place.
This is an edited extract from BLOOM! – Mental Health and Wellbeing by Tasha Broomhall which can be ordered here.