Building Resilience

Following on from last week’s blog discussing burnout in the healthcare profession, this week we look at resilience and how to build it in the workforce, particularly during times of high stress. Resilience can be defined as “the capacity to recover quickly from difficulties” (Oxford Languages), while the American Psychological Association believe resilience to be “the process of adapting well in the face of adversity, trauma, tragedy, threats or significant sources of stress”. Due to recent events, resilience among healthcare workers has become a highly publicized topic and is often in the forefront of the news. Currently, everyone has a need to build resiliency and be treated with compassion and empathy.

Although a number of articles have depicted an increase in anxiety, depression and substance use, studies done following other traumatic events such as the attacks on the World Trade Center and the Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome (SARS) outbreak have shown a common outcome to be long-term resilience in the majority of those impacted rather than post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). Resilience is not a one size fits all and everybody will respond to an event in their own way. However, taking steps to adapt behavior while struggling and experiencing intense grief, fear or anxiety will impact a person’s resilience. It is continuing to show up and move forward even while facing adversity.

Additionally, resilience is not something one has or not, it is an acquired and learned behavior that is constructed actively and created through dynamic behavioral, cognitive, and environmental processes. Resilience can be cultivated through the influence of individuals and communities. By propagating togetherness and behaviors that are beneficial to others, resilience can be built within a neighborhood and each other.

Building resilience within a community takes individuals, but how can resilience be nurtured within these individuals? In a systematic literature review looking at the factors affecting resilience, the following themes were identified:

  • Influence of individual factors such as a sense of purpose, identifying the need for self-care, and holding a positive outlook
  • Influence of environmental and organizational factors indicated by workplace culture, and including identification and measurement of resilience especially within high-risk groups
  • Individual approaches to professional circumstances covering workload management, work-life balance, social support, and use of coping strategies
  • Educational interventions

Effective educational interventions may include resilience workshops along with cognitive behavioral training, stress reduction programs using mindfulness techniques, and healthcare simulation.

While we continue to undergo challenges and face adversity, it is important we take the time for self-care and also to support work colleagues and neighborhoods to build individual and community resilience. The MVC Coordinating Center is available to support, please feel free to reach out at michiganvaluecollaborative@gmail.com


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