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Resilience in Executive Protection: How to Build and Maintain It – Part 3

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Resilience – the ability to adapt in the face of significant stress, trauma, and adversity – is a clear path to better mental and physical health and a vital “weapon” in the field of Executive Protection. Resilience in executive protection is not a triage tool to be broken out “in case of emergency; it is, instead, a lifestyle, and something you need to work on every day.

At the very core of working on your resilience in executive protection is shifting your mindset.

Shifting your mindset entails changing your thoughts and self-talk. The best part is, that YOU have the power to modify your thoughts and self-talk. Changing your thoughts and self-talk will help shift your mindset, create a more resilient you, and build a bridge to a mentally and physically healthier version of you.

Why should you take the time and make the effort to work on your resilience? Well, let me share some of the benefits of building your resilience. For one, you will have a greater capacity to manage stress; and high levels of stress are inevitable in the world of EP. In addition, with a solid level of resilience, you will possess better physical and emotional health. You will experience reduced symptoms of mental health issues and, if you do experience mental health issues, resilience will help you bounce back more quickly.

Additionally, you will recover more quickly from illness and injury. As a resilient individual, you will be more productive because you will see your problems differently and, thus, they won’t weigh you down like before. Finally, you will have better relationships across the board – personal and professional. If you build your resilience, you will have a much-improved quality of life!

So, what does resilience look like in everyday life?

First and foremost, it’s about managing stress. Stress is a constant in the world of Executive Protection – it’s how we manage it that determines the outcome. Everyone, even the Dalai Lama, experiences stress. So, you figure out what tools are going to help you change your thoughts and self-talk, shift your mindset, and get through the stress so that it doesn’t impact you negatively – i.e. you build your resilience in executive protection.

There are many hacks that will assist you in shifting your mindset and help you consistently work on your resilience. Here are my top 10:

  1. Eat, sleep, exercise. Eat a little healthier – the more healthy food you put in your body, the less unhealthy goes in. The research is undeniable – what we eat affects our energy, our mood, and our focus – all facets of resilience. Establish a solid sleep schedule – this is not only essential to function in everyday life, it’s vital when you are working in the world of EP, where, in addition to your personal obligations, you also have the stress and demands of the client. Sleep resets the body, clears the mind, and builds a more resilient you. Incorporate exercise – movement comes in many different forms: running, lifting weights, dancing, gardening, yoga, etc. Exercise in all forms activates the brain, calms the mind, and reduces stress.
  2. Breathe. Incorporate deep breathing into your daily routine. Deep breathing is actually considered the most efficient style of breathing; it also centers us, calms our nervous system, and helps us be more present.
  3. Ask vs. demand. This is an extremely important verbal skill, particularly when you work in EP. Asking instead of demanding is reflective of someone in control of their emotions, who responds and doesn’t react, and who is empowered.
  4. Stop the self-criticism. It’s perfectly ok to be hard on yourself… It’s how you have all gotten to where you are in the EP field. It is NOT ok to self-criticize. It makes you feel like garbage and does nothing to build resilience. As one of my former clients once said to me, “Heck, Mary Beth, there are so many people in line to criticize me, why should I be one of them?”
  5. Practice gratitude. There is scientific proof that gratitude creates a healthier perspective and a more resilient person. Gratitude retrains your mind to see situations differently, more optimistically, which helps to shift your mindset.
  6. Be compassionate. Kindness and compassion show you understand that everyone you meet is fighting a battle you know nothing about, so be compassionate.
  7. Spend time with the right friends, family, and animals. Toxic relationships create stress, contribute to mental health issues, and hack away at resilience. Choose to spend time with people who bring you joy, who are your cheerleaders, and who lift you up. Animals are an amazing form of stress relief and love, and they help you think outside your own issues.
  8. Own your shit. Your problems are your own. Stop blaming your parents, COVID, or the president. Blaming others does not make your problems go away. Being more accountable – for your issues and your life – is a building block of resilience.
  9. Do yoga, journal, and read poetry. Incorporate habits that cultivate peace, calm, and joy. Yoga can be as simple as spending 15 minutes doing gentle stretches that help you feel better physically and center you mentally. Journaling is an excellent tool to dump negative thoughts, destress after a long day, and process deep emotions; all contributing to a happier and healthier you. Read poetry if that’s what you enjoy and what makes you happy – maybe even replace some of the stress-inducing daily news with some beautiful poetry.
  10. Meditate. Meditation is a practice that utilizes concentration, reflection, and mental flexibility to relax the body and calm the mind. But, before you blow it off as “that woo woo stuff for hippies”, try it for a week, just 5-10 minutes a day, and I promise you will feel calmer and mentally and physically healthier. The benefits are so many: it reduces the negative effects of stress, facilitates emotional balance, helps with insomnia, reduces pain and headaches, clears the mind, shifts your mindset, and increases your resilience.

In sum, there are many ways you can build your resilience in executive protection. It matters if you want to be stronger, physically and mentally, while protecting your clients and living a healthy life. Give yourself 30 days to try something new from my list of hacks above – I am confident you will notice a shift towards feeling more empowered and more resilient.

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