The Journey of Resiliency

Roughly two weeks ago, I sat before my laptop staring at the blue-tinged screen. I am way too tired to do this, I thought to myself. Nevertheless, I started plunking down words onto the intimidatingly blank page. It only took a few minutes for me to realize I wasn’t getting anywhere. 

I had written, selected, and then deleted almost everything I could come up with. So far, nothing I’d written sang with creativity, and it wasn’t particularly engaging. A wave of frustration threatened to swamp my can-do attitude. Rather than fall down the rabbit hole of being overwhelmed and discouraged, I decided to practice acts of resilience to reframe my mindset. 

What is resilience? Resilience is typically defined as the ability to recover from complex life events. It might sound like an ability someone is born with, but it’s not. Resilience is a skill that you can develop with time and effort. 

The list below was built by a leading professor of medicine, Dr. Sood. He has dedicated his career to understanding and building resilience. He believes that resilience is born from a combination of the following:

Social Support
Research published in 2015 in the journal Ecology and Society showed that social systems that provide support in crises or trauma support resilience in the individual. Social support can include immediate or extended family, community, friends, and organizations.

Realistic Planning
The ability to make and carry out realistic plans helps individuals play to their strengths and focus on achievable goals.

A positive sense of self and confidence in one’s strengths can stave off feelings of helplessness when confronted with adversity.

Coping Skills
Coping and problem-solving skills help empower a person who has to work through adversity and overcome hardship.

Communication Skills
Being able to communicate clearly and effectively helps people seek support, mobilize resources, and take action.

Emotional Regulation
The capacity to manage potentially overwhelming emotions (or seek assistance to work through them) helps people maintain focus when overcoming a challenge.

So how do you do it? Before we get into that, I do want to disclaim one itty, bitty thing. The requirements sound simple, but practicing them isn’t always easy. If you try to build your resilience, don’t become discouraged if you naturally feel the opposite of what you’re striving for. 

Okay, back to the story. So, there I was, sitting at my desk, feeling like a worn-down old boot. I knew I needed to write a little more if I wanted to achieve my goals, but it was starting to feel like the pursuit of accomplishments made me feel worse, not better. 

That’s when I knew I had to stop for a moment and regroup. When my resilience feels nonexistent, I do a few things to build myself back up. A few of my coping mechanisms are self-affirmations, journaling my peak and pit (best/most challenging part of the day), exercising (walk/yoga), sitting in the sun for a few minutes (or turning on my sun lamp if it’s winter), calling a friend, taking a thirty-minute nap, and blasting music to help boost my motivation. 

Many times, these efforts feel false. I feel like I’m pretending to be peaceful or happy. In reality, I am faking it, but not completely. After a few minutes of practicing a ritual, I feel a lot better. I usually do a second practice after the first, just to hammer in that optimism. 

I’m not the authority on resilience, nor am I close to perfect in my practices. But, I have seen a major improvement after a few months of further developing the skill. If you’re interested in learning more about how to grow your resilience, simply Google Dr. Amit Sood. You will find a plethora of resources.

Best of luck!


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