How Healthy Connections Help Build Our Resilience - Nancy Branberg
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How Healthy Connections Help Build Our Resilience


Thanksgiving is my favorite holiday and it kicks off the winter holiday season at our house. And while this year our celebrations are turning out to be very different from what we do traditionally, we are doing our best to embrace the changes and looking for ways to make meaningful connections with our family and friends during this time.

Even though there is a LOT of emphasis on food at Thanksgiving, it’s really not about the food for us…except for the pie and maybe the mashed potatoes 😊. It’s more about Connections—one of the four pillars of building resilience that I have been talking about this fall.

What is resilience?

Remember, psychologists define resilience as the process of adapting well in the face of adversity, trauma, tragedy, threats or significant sources of stress — such as family and relationship problems, serious health problems, or workplace and financial stressors. (the definition of 2020). Resilience involves behaviors, thoughts and actions that anyone can learn and develop. The ability to learn resilience is one reason research has shown that resilience is ordinary, not extraordinary.

Why is resilience important?

Having supportive relationships in your life with your family and friends seems to be an important foundation according to much resilience research. Good, positive relationships help a person with reassurance and encouragement when times get tough, and seem to help support a person’s ability to rebound more quickly after a difficult event or problem in their life.

How our connections build resilience

Many of us connect to our family roots by preparing and eating special foods during the holidays. Growing up we ate our big Thanksgiving meal at 2:00 p.m. because we wanted to make sure we could enjoy turkey sandwiches for supper. The menu never changed in our house, always turkey, dressing (Pepperidge Farms), cranberry sauce (jellied), mashed potatoes and gravy, corn, green bean casserole, Parker House rolls with lots of butter, and a relish tray that included brandied peaches, that Mom had canned over the summer, with a cube of cream cheese, pear halves with a maraschino cherry and sugared frosted grapes, and for dessert, pumpkin pie!

The family expanded and we were joined by friends who introduced new foods to the table. Now Harriet’s vegetable casserole and John’s pecan pie are now part of the “traditional” Thanksgiving meal on the Branberg side of the family. I can see and smell the many different Thanksgiving meals my mother prepared over the years.

Over the years, other families have invited us to join in ways that they connect with family and friends—an annual tag football game at 10:00 a.m. before a 1:00 p.m. meal--A hike up Old Rag the day after Thanksgiving, gathering in the parking lot at 8:00 a.m. to beat the crowd—a book exchange with a message in each book of what was liked or not liked about the book and why the person thought it deserved a read.

Why we need to be resilient this Thanksgiving and how we can help

This year the CDC is encouraging people not to travel while social distancing and wearing masks are further barriers to making connections. We are seeing and feeling the emotional impact of this current reality on family members as well as friends and neighbors.

But the people who are experiencing chronic pain or who had been limiting their social interactions because they were embarrassed by their leakage have already had a tougher time building and maintaining supportive relationships.

Thanksgiving, and holidays in general, can be a challenging time for people with persistent pain. Many of my clients tell me they feel guilty they are not doing their part to help out, or they have difficulty not overdoing, that they know they will end up “paying” for spending time cooking the larger meals or even sitting and visiting.

The women I see who have IBS or constipation are also challenged because their food choices have to be like Goldilocks, “just right”, or they pay for it for days-either waiting to go to the bathroom because of constipation or not being able to leave the bathroom because their IBS symptoms have returned with a vengeance.

And then there are women with incontinence or urinary frequency—yes, they would love to be more active and work off those holiday treats, but are afraid to move too much especially with extra people around.

It’s easy to make excuses this time of year—not taking the time to move your body, to journal, to spend some quiet time in meditation or contemplation. These are all tools you can use to continue to build resilience.

So this holiday season, take time to first connect with yourself. Be sure to fill your cup by taking time to move your body as well as fueling your body with foods that nourish you. Don’t forget that your body needs sleep to recover from the day.

We’re here to connect with you this holiday season and will be releasing a 20- minute exercise video each week between Thanksgiving and the new year to help you move your body and build your resilience!

So what can I do to help us all feel connected and build physical resilience?

Each Monday for 4 weeks, I will be releasing a 20-minute exercise video that is designed with you in mind. I will be targeting muscles that you tell me you need help with—abdominals and upper back—while making sure each exercise is safe.

To make sure you receive your video, click the button below, and fill out the quick form.

I look forward to staying connected during this holiday season!

Nancy Branberg

Nancy Branberg

Nancy has long had a passion for helping people - especially those who felt they were powerless over their pain. After becoming a mom and having her own “child-birth” traumas to deal with, Nancy became interested in learning about the pelvis - not just the musculo-skeletal system, but the reproductive and digestive system as well. Every day she is amazed by the complexity and the inter-relatedness of all the systems. Nancy is Fall Church’s leading physical therapist who is able to help you overcome these problems without medication or surgery. Nancy Branberg Physical Therapy, LLC empowers women to take control of their pelvic issues so that their energy and attention can shift towards doing all of the things they love to do.
Nancy Branberg

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