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Medicine LibreTexts

3.22: Resilience

  • Page ID
    11690
  • Resilience is the ability to:

    • Bounce back
    • Take on difficult challenges and still find meaning in life
    • Respond positively to difficult situations
    • Rise above adversity
    • Cope when things look bleak
    • Tap into hope
    • Transform unfavorable situations into wisdom, insight, and compassion
    • Endure

    Resilience refers to the ability of an individual, family, organization, or community to cope with adversity and adapt to challenges or change. It is an ongoing process that requires time and effort and engages people in taking a number of steps to enhance their response to adverse circumstances. Resilience implies that after an event, a person or community may not only be able to cope and recover, but also change to reflect different priorities arising from the experience and prepare for the next stressful situation.

    Resilience is the most important defense people have against stress. It is important to build and foster resilience to be ready for future challenges. Resilience will enable the development of a reservoir of internal resources to draw upon during stressful situations.

    Research (Aguirre, 2007; American Psychological Association, 2006; Bonanno, 2004) has shown that resilience is ordinary, not extraordinary, and that people regularly demonstrate being resilient.

    Resilience is not a trait that people either have or do not have. Resilience involves behaviors, thoughts, and actions that can be learned and developed in anyone. Resilience is tremendously influenced by a person's environment.

    Resilience changes over time. It fluctuates depending on how much a person nurtures internal resources or coping strategies. Some people are more resilient in work life, while others exhibit more resilience in their personal relationships. People can build resilience and promote the foundations of resilience in any aspect of life they choose.

    Building Resilience

    Developing resilience is a personal journey. People do not react the same way to traumatic events. Some ways to build resilience include the following actions:

    • Making connections with others
    • Looking for opportunities for self-discovery
    • Nurturing a positive view of self
    • Accepting that change is a part of living
    • Taking decisive actions
    • Learning from the past

    The ability to be flexible is a great skill to obtain and facilitates resilience growth. Getting help when it is needed is crucial to building resilience. An approach to building resilience that works for one person might not work for another. People use varying strategies. Resilience involves maintaining flexibility and balance in life during stressful circumstances and traumatic events. Being resilient does not mean that a person does not experience difficulty or distress. Emotional pain and sadness are common in people who have suffered major adversity or trauma in their lives. Stress can be dealt with proactively by building resilience to prepare for stressful circumstances, while learning how to recognize symptoms of stress. Fostering resilience or the ability to bounce back from a stressful situation is a proactive mechanism to managing stress.