How Resilient Are You?

I usually listen to music on the way to the office, but I have recently discovered some interesting podcasts. One is called "Chasing Life" by Dr. Sanjay Gupta.

I just finished one episode, "In the Blink of an Eye." It's about Dr. Gupta's producer, who was in a serious car accident and ended up in a coma. In an instant, her life was changed forever. Doctors weren't sure of the extent of her brain damage and didn't hold out much hope that she would survive. They told her family and friends that she might never wake up or be the same person she was before the brain damage.

But she surprised everyone by coming out of the coma. She shares her story about how she had to learn everything all over again. And how being resilient helped her in her recovery.

What is resilience?

Psychologists explain resilience as how well we adapt to things like:1

  • Trauma
  • Tragedy
  • Threats
  • Adversity
  • Relationship or family problems
  • Serious health problems
  • Stress from work and finances

Some people adapt well to changes in life and actually experience personal growth. They are able to "bounce back" from situations.1

Asthma can fall under the category of a "serious health problem." We know there are different types of asthma and different severities of asthma.2

Many people think we "just have to use our inhaler" for our asthma and everything will be okay. That's not always the case. Some people have asthma that is so severe it affects every part of their life. I have a friend with severe asthma, and he has been hospitalized and intubated countless times. Yet he is remarkably resilient.

Don't get me wrong – we all have plenty of rough days. And there is nothing wrong with a good cry!

But even when we go through tough times, being resilient means there are areas of our life we can modify, control, and grow from.

I love this quote from Dr. Gupta in the podcast: "We will all one day find ourselves in circumstances we not have chosen. And when we do, we must remind ourselves that what is in our control is how we react to the hand we're dealt."

How can you build resilience?

It can take time and practice to build resilience, but anyone can do it. We can all learn to focus on our behavior, thoughts, and actions. Psychologists suggest focusing on 4 areas:3

  • Connection – Find empathetic and trustworthy friends who can validate your feelings. Accept help from others, and don't isolate yourself. Find a group to join (faith-based, civic, professional, etc.).
  • Wellness – Self-care is very popular these days, and for good reason! Taking care of yourself physically and mentally is vital. Exercise, getting enough sleep, good nutrition, meditation, yoga, and avoiding negative habits can all help. Pick one thing this week to focus on!
  • Healthy thinking – Keep things in perspective (don't think worst-case scenario), accept that you may not be able to change some things, try to stay hopeful, and learn from past experiences where you were able to find the strength to endure.
  • Meaning – What gives you purpose? Helping others? Working on goals? Knowing you made it through the tough time can help you appreciate life and realize how tough you can be

Sometimes, you may need professional help to get through the tough times. There is no shame in visiting a counselor! They can help you find great coping skills.

I'll end with one last quote from Dr. Gupta: "We can all learn to adapt, to find acceptance for what we cannot change and learn to adapt and push ourselves to have a fulfilling life, no matter what challenges are thrown our way."

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