Reflection 1-0-1 - Can reflection help build stress resilience?

May 25, 2023

But, what *is* reflection? And, how does it help us improve our stress resilience and, how do we do it successfully?

What is reflection?

Reflection is a term that describes looking back on an event, situation or memory to process how we feel. Sometimes, reflection can feel like a nit-picky process, where we only focus on negative things, but it can be about gratitude, too. 

Its neutral nature means it can be applied to many different situations. And, there’s no time limit either. You can reflect on things that have taken place hours ago or years ago. 

Reflection as a process asks us to think of a moment and analyze our emotional response and the implications of these emotions on the event taking place. It might be that we find the memory upsetting, or stressful, but reflection asks us to ask why? What could change to make it feel better, or more neutral? How can we find acceptance in these moments that cause us distress or gratitude?

How does reflection help improve stress resilience?

Reflection helps us look at things removed from our initial emotional response. So, even though remembering things, or looking back upon an event might elicit a similar response, it can also open the door for us to look at how we think we handled things. 

This is one way we can determine how we want things to be different the next time we are faced with a similar stressor. In fact, reflecting on our daily lives and the things that irk us can help us to set intentions, which if you’ve read Intention Setting 1-0-1 will know can improve our stress resilience. 

This is because it helps us to prepare and think about our responses in a neutral way. We may have shouted in the moment, or gotten frustrated and upset, but looking back we can ask why whilst accepting our responses. This helps us to understand ourselves better. Reflection also encourages us to stick to our intentions, by holding us accountable for our actions.

So, how does it help improve stress resilience? In short; reflection gives us insight into our capacity. It can encourage us to look at other ways to solve the problems we’re having or to notice the really great things that happen in our lives. Turning inward, or self-reflection, can also help us to grow our emotional intelligence and label our emotions in a more accurate and affirming way. 

How does reflection help with intention setting?

Reflection starts with an event. Perhaps you really lost it today at an employee. Or, maybe your partner is driving you up the wall. It happens. It’s part of life to feel overwhelmed by the small stuff when we’re sweating about the big stuff. 

Let’s fast forward. After the event has taken place and your partner is oblivious as to why you’re upset, or your employee is crying, you illicit another emotional response. Maybe it’s shame. It could even frustrate you further. In these moments it’s best to walk away and cool off. But, when you have cooled off, reflection can help us identify what has gone wrong. Perhaps it wasn’t your partner driving you up the wall, but the fact that they had forgotten to do the washing up and that made you feel uncared for. Your anger at an employee could be because of your own pressures at work and they’ve found themselves in your firing line. The point is that emotions are complicated, as are our responses to them. Reflecting can untangle it all for us. So, how can we do it?

The first thing to do is to try and feel neutral about your reactions and emotional responses. It helps you think about them authentically and helps you shift whatever shame or defensiveness you might feel. Once you have your matter-of-fact truth, you can begin to introspect. Ask yourself questions; why did I react angrily? Is there anything in my life that is making me feel this way? If I was in this situation, how would I behave differently, knowing what I know now?

This can help you set an intention for the next time this stressful event occurs, helping you think about how you as your best self would react. Daily intention setting can also help the reflective process, by giving you a targeted moment or day to reflect on. And, if things are going well, it will encourage you to smell the roses a little more. In our books, it’s a win-win!