Build your resilience for optimal well-being

by Bernadette Melnyk, PhD, RN, APRN-CNP, FAANP, FNAP, FAAN

Resilience – that ability to bounce back from setbacks, overcome obstacles and grow despite physical or mental challenges – is on our minds at the College of Nursing as we celebrate the Year of the Nurse and Midwife. Can we as nurses and healthcare providers help people improve their ability to recover from difficult life events and illness?

Consumer health education organization Everyday Health partnered with researchers at The Ohio State University, including College of Nursing faculty Bernadette Melnyk and Jacqueline Hoying, PhD, RN, NEA-BC in 2019 to survey 3,538 Americans nationwide for their State of Health: Resilience special report. The study revealed that while most people surveyed believed that they have high levels of mental and physical resilience, only about 57% really do. That means many people aren’t as prepared for what lies ahead as they think they are.

Fortunately, resilience is not just a matter of good genes: it can be built upon with learned and practiced behaviors. We can help others increase their resilience, and we can build our own resilience, too. To build your resilience, try these tips:

  • Practice self-care. Take time to make your mental, emotional and physical health a top priority.
  • See yourself as in control. Focus on how you, as opposed to external forces, can control the outcome of events.
  • Reframe negative thoughts. You can retrain your responses to difficulties in your life. A positive outlook can help you to cope better.
  • Build your social network. Social support is important. Rely on family, friends and coworkers when needed, and continue to grow your social network.
  • Increase your optimism. Optimism can help you feel more in control of your circumstances. Focus on what you can do, and identify positive steps you can take to solve problems.
  • Learn coping skills. Find ways to release stress daily and learn techniques to reduce anxiety, such as deep breathing and meditation.
  • Practice gratitude. Try writing down three people or things that you are grateful for every day.
  • Rely on your problem-solving skills. Identify ways within your control to work with and solve problems.
  • Know your strengths and areas for improvement. Knowing what you do well and what stresses you out can help you deal with difficult situations and also help you avoid things that might overwhelm you.

Be patient with yourself. Take one small step at a time. Then watch your resilience grow strong. Your health and well-being will benefit from it!