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Science Proves: To Be More Resilient You Have to Listen to Your Body

An interesting article in the New York Times highlights a study that potentially answers the question of why some people are more resilient than others.

The study found that it may be due to how an individual listens to his or her body.

It is important to define resiliency. The article states, "In scientific terms, resilience is the ability to rapidly return to normal, both physically and emotionally, after a stressful event."

For the study, 48 people who self-identified as having either high, normal, or low physical and emotional resilience were given a mask of sorts and their brains were observed as their oxygen was reduced and their ability to breathe was made significantly more challenging.

For people who self-identified as having high or normal resiliency the study found that there was heightened arousal when the participants' masks were closing, which indicated the awareness that their breathing would become compromised. However, during the actual time of limited oxygen and difficult breathing there was little arousal.

The reverse was found with people who self-identified as having low resiliency. As the masks closed, they exhibited little arousal, but as oxygen was limited their arousal was heightened significantly. This demonstrates that the participants were paying little attention to what was happening inside their bodies as they anticipated their breathing to become belabored, and once it did, they overreacted when experiencing the threat.

" “To me, this study says that resilience is largely about body awareness and not rational thinking,” said Dr. Martin Paulus, the scientific director of the Laureate Institute for Brain Research in Tulsa, Okla., and the senior author of the study. “Even smart people, if they don’t listen to their body, might not bounce back” as quickly from adversity, he said, as someone who is more attuned to his or her physiology. "

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