Resilience – what are your brain waves doing right now?

Study break is almost here and that can bring mixed feelings, possibly even some worries or anxiety.  How are you doing right now? 

UC has many people who are here to help, and there are things you can do too around building personal resilience. To help make it happen, it helps to understand more about how our bodies work. Wendy Risdon from UC Health Centre tells us why you should let out a long…slow…breath. 

On a scale of 1-10, with “1” being an absence of resilience and “10” being super resilient, where would you rate yourself on that scale?

Why did you place yourself there and my last question is this; would someone who knows you well also rate you similarly?

You may well ask me the question, what do you mean by resilience?

I mean the ability to move through life’s difficulties without becoming stuck in them.

Experience is a great teacher, so one way we become more resilient is to have more experiences. Experiences give people life skills to draw on and these life skills are gathered by navigating through disappointments and setbacks. What changes as a result of getting through these situations is your self-talk and then what you come to believe about yourself. Self-talk lifts you up or brings you down. It doesn’t matter if it is the truth or not, if you believe it and it feels true it will influence your actions and your body’s biological processes.

I don’t believe resilience can be taught. What can be taught is the ability to ask questions which raise self-awareness. Why do I think that? Where has that belief come from?

So much of what we believe to be true about ourselves has often come from something a significant adult has said to us before the age of seven. This makes sense when we learn about brain wave activity changes throughout the lifespan. An electroencephalogram (EEG) measures brainwave activity in hertz (Hz), cycles per second. A baby’s predominant state of being is in delta, a low frequency cycling of 0.5-4Hz. A child between the ages of two and six years is predominantly in theta brain wave activity which is 4-8Hz. This state is a very programmable state and the same as hypnotherapists use.  In a theta state a child is able to download incredible volumes of information which sets the scene for adulthood.

The” alpha” brain wave pattern of 8-12 Hz, creates a feeling of calm consciousness and heightens self- awareness. This becomes the predominant state for those aged six to 12 years. The beta brain wave pattern is 12-35Hz and occurs when there is active, focused, consciousness.

It appears to be beneficial to be able to cycle through different states of consciousness depending on whether we wish to sleep or study. The key to slowing brain wave activity is to breathe slowly, focusing on creating a long slow out breath. This helps to elicit the “relaxation response” which creates a state of calmness needed to induce sleep.

At the UC Health Centre, I use Healing Touch, Music, Aromatherapy, Guided Imagery and Relaxation Breathing to bring a person into an alpha brain wave state so they can experience what it feels like to be truly calm and relaxed. This helps a person move through negative emotions, fear and anxiety and begins to build resilience.

Wendy Risdon
Nurse – UC Health Centre

Have a voice! Tell us what you're thinking...