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The chemistry of calm - by Henry Emmons - Book suggestion

Who we are today doesn't necessarily have to be who we are tomorrow.

"We are resilient beings by nature. Everyone has a different degree of stress tolerance, and indeed, some can 'handle it' for what seems a long time. It is great to be so resilient, but too it allows the stressful situation to go on and on.... [I]t will create physical problems beyond the unpleasant emotions of fear and anxiety.... The stakes are too high to allow this to go on unchecked. We have to learn to recognize the patterns of stress and anxiety and intervene intelligently.... [S]eeing our complexity and wholeness and finding solutions that are as whole and complex as we are." Henry Emmons

Henry Emmons is an integrative psychiatrist who integrates mind-body and natural therapies, mindfulness teachings, and other holistic approaches; he marries Eastern techniques of meditation with traditional Western solutions of diet and exercise,

The effects of anxiety can affect your sense of well-being, health, longevity, productivity, and relationships. In 'The Chemistry of Calm', Dr. Henry Emmons presents his Resilience Training Program—designed to relieve anxiety and restore physical and mental strength. This step-by-step plan for mental calmness and emotional wisdom focuses on ways to create resilience as a key to resolving anxiety in everyday life, incorporating the latest science on diet, exercise, nutritional supplements and mindfulness

Henry Emmons sees rigidity as the enemy of joy and calm and shows us how flexibility and an openness to adapt can be a secret weapon against fear and anxiety . Flexibility helps people get through lifestyle changes and attain a sense of calm allowing us to accept what is happening in the world around us, internalize and process that reality, and use it to guide life decisions. 

This sense of flexibility doesn’t only apply to the external world—it also affects our inner mindset, too. It offers us the ability to treat ourselves with kindness and be flexible with the expectations we place on ourselves. Being kind to ourselves doesn’t mean settling for mediocrity and stasis. Instead, it grounds us in a mindset where we accept where we are, what our current limitations may be, and how we can realistically move forward. 

Takeaways from the book

  • Stress, especially sustained stress, really requires us to bolster our resilience.

  • Think of resilience as a container. We’re not all born with the same size container, but our container’s capacity is less important than how skilled we are at keeping our container filled, how well we tend to our energy and care so that we continuously cultivate more resilience.

  • The concept of building more resilience goes hand-in-hand with the case for having a consistent mindfulness practice that we begin to institute not when we are in crisis but when we are going through easier times.

  • A big part of this is learning to manage our energy. We need to give our body the best chance to produce and use energy in the best way possible. Periods of rest between activities are paramount. But the most important part of bolstering our energy system is sleep. We all need good sleep in order to be resilient.

  • Probably the biggest barrier to good self-care, is that it’s hard to change our habits but we can help ourselves make changes through accountability or camaraderie.

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