Stress is inevitable. It’s impossible to avoid — inherent to the human condition, says Dr. Robyne Hanley-Dafoe — and fighting it only makes it worse. While we can’t escape stress, we can rebuild our relationship with it and learn how to use it to our advantage.
An expert in resiliency, Robyne recently joined us for a special At The Spotlight event ahead of the launch of her new book, Stress Wisely: How to Be Well in an Unwell World. She walked us through the eight realms of wellness, sharing research-informed, tactical strategies to help us build a stress and recovery system fueled by self-stewardship and high performance — the key to living a full, healthy, and whole life, even in inherently tough circumstances.
Below is a brief breakdown of Robyne’s wellness framework, which she explores in-depth in her keynote “How to Stress Wisely”. She draws on her vast research and real-world experiences in wellness, stress, and resilience to help audiences navigate the chaos of modern life in the wisest way possible.
Contact us to learn more about Robyne and what she can bring to your next event.
How to Stress Wisely
Despite what many of us have been told, stress isn’t our enemy. The right amount of stress in our lives actually leads us to that zone of optimal performance where we’re energized, focused, and work feels effortless.
Unfortunately, many of us aren’t getting that “right amount of stress”; we’re overdosing on cortisol and living in a constant state of distress, characterized by three key symptoms running rampant in the workplace right now — fatigue, exhaustion, and burnout.
Robyne said the goal for all of us is to build our capacity to take on stress, while also building our environments to better support each other in this quest. How? Through focusing on the eight realms of wellness — the key to cultivating true wellness, both at home and work.
The Eight Realms of Wellness
This realm covers the areas of sleep, nutrition, physical health, and recovery, with Robyne emphasizing the need to repair the relationship with our bodies.
“Right now, we are trying to hate ourselves into health,” Robyne said, with so much misinformation surrounding us on health and wellness. While Robyne shared insight into the role of power naps, unraveling disordered eating, and adding movement into our days, wellness begins with practicing body appreciation and treating our bodies as well as they treat us.
This area focuses on building our emotional intelligence through self-awareness. Robyne uses the framework of “see it, name it, place it, action it” to help people become aware of and get comfortable with their emotions. We don’t get to pick the emotions we feel, she said, but we can control how we respond to them.
This realm focuses on how we function cognitively. We experience burnout, Robyne said, when we constantly work within the same frequencies. We need to allow ourselves space to rest, work, play, etc. and not emphasize one area over the other.
Community is paramount to our survival, with belonging being a core aspect of building resiliency. Robyne illustrated this realm by sharing the “Sailboat of Needs” model. The boat itself is our security, encapsulating self-esteem, connection, and safety, while the sail represents growth, encapsulating purpose, love, and exploration.
Relationships play a key part in both of these areas — without them, our boat would be riddled with holes with us struggling to stay afloat. Together, we can keep sailing those rocky waters.
This realm focuses on creating our ideal spaces, both indoors and outdoors. Surround yourself with things you love, Robyne said, to provide you with that immediate boost. She also said if you are experiencing cognitive fatigue, cleaning and simplifying your space can make a world of difference.
We spend more time with our colleagues and our clients than we do with our loved ones. This is why it’s so critical (for leaders especially) to foster relationships within the workplace, Robyne said. This, combined with a sense of purpose, leads to higher retention across the board.
7) Financial Wellness
While researching stress, Robyne discovered that we are more comfortable talking about religion, politics, drug use, and our sexual history than we are with discussing our finances. Yet, knowing you can support yourself financially is key to your overall wellness — it’s critical to lean into these uncomfortable discussions, she said.
This realm covers purpose and meaning making. If we get to the end of our goal, or even our lives, without a firm sense of purpose, Robyne said, that’s when we wonder, what was the point? She urged us all to find our “lighthouse”, the light or force that powers us through. Hers is the mantra, “I can do hard things“.
Wellness is Closer Than We Think
Contrary to popular opinion, Robyne wants us to aim for average in life. Get that B+ across those eight realms of wellness, she said. It’s when we pour all of our effort and attention into one area that we are left feeling empty and tired.
I once spoke with an Olympian, Robyne said, who in the moment of achieving their lifelong dream — winning a gold medal — felt empty. They put all of their attention into one area of their lives, the physical realm, she said, that they didn’t have the emotional capacity to enjoy their achievement.
Fulfillment and contentment in life comes from the B+, and we are just one step away from that. Wellness is a lot closer than we think, Robyne said, it starts with one choice; one choice within each realm. Make those choices and braid those micro moments together — that’s how we stay well.
Enjoy this behind-the-scenes video of Robyne’s At The Spotlight event!
Described as one of the most sought-after, engaging, thought-provoking, and truly transformative international speakers and scholars in her field, Dr. Robyne Hanley-Dafoe is a multi-award-winning education and psychology instructor.
She specializes in resiliency, navigating stress and change, wellness in the workplace, and optimal performance, both at home and work. Contact us to learn more about Robyne and to book her for your next event.