Stress resilience and connection: Leanne taking part in the Arctic Circle Race

The Relationship Between Stress Resilience and Connection

Back in 2019, my partner Antonia and I took on the Arctic Circle Race, known as the world’s toughest cross-country ski race, held annually in Sisimiut, Greenland. Earlier this year in March, we went on another Arctic adventure – this time with a company called Rat Race. And, as they so often do, this experience provided an excellent metaphor for wellbeing that I want to share with you today. This time, it’s about the relationship between stress resilience and connection. 

Adversity Encourages Honesty

So, day one – it’s a three-day event – we’re traversing across about 26km of Arctic tundra. We meet a really nice couple called Chris and Liz, and get chatting to them. And, as you do on these sorts of events, we ended up having some pretty deep conversations. You’ve never met these people before, and you’re sharing things you might not even share with someone you know back home. Something about the adversity encourages that sort of honesty.

Getting Through a Difficult Time

When we arrived at the first checkpoint, we got split up from them both. In fact, they lost each other, too. It wasn’t until later on we heard a cry, and turned around to see this little red dot scuttling towards us in the distance. A few minutes on, Chris caught up to us, and we finished the day chatting away with him. And it’s those conversations, or just seeking support from someone else, that really make a difference when you’re faced with adversity. That connection helps to build your resilience to stress, helps you to get through it – whether it’s completing an Arctic event, or simply a rather grey and miserable day. 

Why Having a Support Network is Important

I’ve spoken before about Dan Buettner’s Blue Zones – areas of the world where people live longest and healthiest. There’s even a Netflix documentary about his research out now – I highly recommend watching it! One thing the people in Blue Zones do is maintain good social relationships. Specifically, the elders of Okinawa have moais: groups of lifelong friends, formed to provide social, financial, health, or spiritual support. And this part of Japan has one of the highest concentrations of centenarians (people aged 100 years and over). It just goes to show the power of connection – particularly in terms of stress resilience and healthspan.

Finding Your Tribe

Stress resilience is almost synonymous with finding your tribe and nurturing that connection. It’s being amongst people that light you up, and doing the same for them in return. Having a support network helps to make stressful situations much easier to manage. So, if you’re experiencing a particularly stressful period, look to the people around you, see if they can help. Or it could even be someone you might never see again – though we did actually stay in touch with Chris and Liz!

Last week, I talked about sharing your spirit animal, and how it reveals more about you than you might at first think. It can be really useful for bonding with new people, as well as strengthening existing bonds. So, I hope this helps – look to relationships and create opportunities to connect to get you through any kind of difficult time.

Interested in sharing this message at your next event?

Social relationships serve a critical purpose in our lives; they increase our healthspan, drive meaning and purpose, improve communication and enhance stress resilience (this is particularly important for multigenerational teams). In this fun and interactive keynote, Leanne uses the power of storytelling to improve trust, belonging and connection across organisations using her unique BOND Approach. Click here to find out more or get in touch to book a free discovery call.

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