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Build Resilience Through Radical Self-Care

Want to be strong? Take care of yourself.

Man sitting on a mountain top looking at the view

Getty/ Everste

Practicing radical self-care in the face of fear is an act of courage, one that will help build the resilience that we will all need as we move forward.

In the practice of Innate Medicine, I invite patients to view their symptoms as communication from the wisdom of their bodies rather than as problems to be solved. This shift in perspective leads to a deepening of curiosity, closer listening, and communion with the body. From here, symptoms are seen as bodily intelligence, through which one can access a deeper level of self-understanding; creative responses become possible.

Embracing Our Innate Resilience

It’s worth taking a moment to unpack what, precisely, is meant by "innate resilience." "Innate" refers to that which comes from within. It is self-arising. It is a felt sense of our innermost knowing. "Resilience" is the pulse of life itself. It is always operative, always intact. 

In my clinical practice, I witness the power of my patients’ innate resilience every day. As patients receive the tender support and guidance they need, the entirety of their being can heal and flourish. Through generations of conditioning, many of us have lost touch with our inner vitality, and we’ve come to over-rely on external modalities to treat and protect us. Embracing our innate resilience means returning to what has always been ours—our intrinsic capacity to heal and thrive.

At this time of epic uncertainty, we have the opportunity to tune into our body’s wisdom and reclaim our birthright to wholeness and resilience. When we tap into our deepest knowing and listen to our ancestors’ whispers, we understand how to care for our embodiment and cultivate resilience, even in the face of threat.  

Self-Care Practices to Build Resilience

This process and practice works alongside modern medicine. They are not mutually exclusive. We can hold onto the many benefits of contemporary medicine and public health, while we embrace our innate resilience and practice radical self-care.

  • Sleep deeply and awaken refreshed and revitalized. 
  • Move our bodies gently, without overexertion. 
  • Prepare warm, nourishing foods and beverages for ourselves and loved ones: soups, stews, and teas. 
  • Bundle up and stay warm with socks, hats, and sweaters. 
  • Limit media consumption, ensuring that we stay informed without obsessing. 
  • Connect with our loved ones, open our hearts, and mend relational discord. 
  • Spend time outdoors, grounding with earth, opening to sky, and breathing fresh air. 
  • Align ourselves with the natural rhythms of the day. 
  • Discontinue habits that deplete us, such as excessive consumption of alcohol, caffeine, and other addictive substances and habits. 

We can choose to move through our day with a deep knowing of our innate resilience which can inform and guide us, even in a time of pandemic. As responsible global citizens, we follow public health strategies to protect our vulnerable populations and limit disease transmission. We need not, however, be bound by fear.

 When fear arises, we tend to it like all other emotions and felt sensations, by allowing it to fully emerge and gently resolve with loving awareness. 

We have a choice about how we relate to COVID-19. I invite you to interface with this novel virus from a place of resilience, groundedness, and confidence in all that you are—which is, of course, a brilliant, embodied wonder of nature. 

Embracing our innate resilience gives us the courage to face illness while being fully present in our bodies and minds, trusting in life, and accessing all of our resources, both internal and external. From this place, our relationship with the virus becomes much more a dance than a battle.

You may also enjoy "Roadmap for Resilience After a Broken Heart."


About the Author

Josefa Rangel, MD

Josefa Rangel, MD, is a board-certified internist and fellowship-trained integrative medicine specialist. She received her medical degree from Stanford University School of Medicine; completed her residency in Internal Medicine at the University of California, San Francisco; and undertook fellowships at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and The Andrew Weil Center for Integrative Medicine. She also recently completed training in Medical Advocacy. 

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