Resilience and Support from Others

What happens if you’re working to develop your resilience but you have a home life that isn’t conducive to it? A 2015 study of teenagers in war-torn northern Jordan who underwent resilience training showed that levels of the stress hormone cortisol moderated significantly although their social support levels didn’t strengthen. Those with supportive communities and close family ties tested for high resilience from the outset. For the trainers, this indicated that they should expand their efforts to the teens’ families and the larger community. For someone who wants to strengthen their own resilience, it’s encouraging but it also suggests that you’ll succeed to a greater extent if you can get your own social contacts to support you. The article linked below discusses the 2015 study and why similar training programs have had mixed results.


Interview with an Expert on Spirituality and Resilience

Today I’m linking again to a post on a blog by Jamie D. Aten, Ph.D., at Psychology Today, as I did on January 17th. He has since posted a few more times, but this time I’m highlighting his interview with Dr. Thomas G. Plante, who besides running a private practice is a psychologist on the faculty of Santa Clara University and adjunct clinical professor of psychiatry and behavioral sciences at Stanford University School of Medicine. Among other things, his work deals with psychological issues among Catholic clergy and laypersons, and as a Catholic myself I suspect that many of them are grateful for his assistance. Read what he has to say about spirituality, health, and resilience at the link below.

Mindful Breathing – Mayo Clinic

Did you know that the world famous Mayo Clinic has a Mindful Breathing Laboratory? Practicing with formal mindfulness exercises for more than ten minutes daily has been shown to improve resilience, so you might want to try the exercises that this Mayo lab has provided to the public. You can find them here:

A Former POW on Relationships

The instructive clip below featuring Robert H. Shumaker, a prisoner of war in Vietnam who became a US Navy Rear Admiral, and the others in the playlist are from a PBS series that ran a few years ago. The episodes aren’t online but are available for purchase at the link below. Playlist link:

Think You’re Resilient? Think Again!

In July of 2018, researchers at Arizona State University published a study which compared previous resilience research works to determine whether they differed in the way that they calculated the percentage of subjects characterized as resilient. It turned out that yes, the studies of adults which measured only one benefit of resilience (life satisfaction, positive or negative emotions, general or physical health) said that between 19 and 66 percent were resilient, whereas those which considered the full range of benefits reported that only 8 percent were.

What does this mean for the typical reader of this blog? Of course there’s the comforting fact that those who lack resilience have lots of company. While that’s encouraging, the ASU finding also means it’s worth keeping in mind that showing rapid improvement after adversity in one aspect of life where being resilient helps may not be representative of general resilience.

See the following article for more about ASU’s study:

Know How Far to Go

If you’re a fitness fanatic then you’re probably aware of the concept of a target heart rate. It involves the idea that if you push yourself too hard physically, the benefits of exercise will be less than optimal. Perhaps unsurprisingly, there is an analogous concept in psychology.

Melody Wilding is a performance coach and licensed social worker who specializes in helping others overcome mental and emotional challenges of developing a successful career and a balanced life. In the following article she explains that if you seek growth it’s best to aim for “the zone of proximal development”.

Especially for those in Helping Professions

emergency room entrance

Entire books have been written about resilience specifically for those practicing as doctors, nurses, teachers, therapists, and others in the “helping professions”. However, if you’re looking for a quick list to peruse and possibly spur some action then you might like the article linked below. It was written by a general practitioner with nearly 30 years of experience and a professor who spent 20 years as a GP, so it’s reasonable to think that they know something about maintaining resiliency in these professions, and probably in general.

Experts Interviewed

Jamie Aten, Ph.D., Founder and Executive Director of Wheaton College’s Humanitarian Diaster Institute, is the author of the just-published book A Walking Disaster: What Surviving Katrina and Cancer Taught Me About Faith and Resilience. This month his blog is featuring discussions with prominent researchers about how resilience is related to the areas they study. The researchers he’s interviewed so far are experts in forgiveness, humility, and survivor’s guilt. Without question, their insights are worth keeping in mind if we want to become more resilient. I’ll be monitoring Dr. Aten’s blog and will post an update in a few weeks provided that more noteworthy content is added to it.

Inverting Maslow’s Hierarchy

There’s a decent chance that you’re familiar with the concepts of self-actualization and Maslow’s hierarchy of human needs, by which people strive to achieve their potential. In this talk, Dr. Lehan Stemmet, a New Zealand-based educator who also trains on resilience (see and check out the app), discusses brain development throughout life as well as a couple of interesting findings concerning resilience and Maslow’s hierarchy.