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Becoming Resilient

Resiliency refers to one’s ability to adapt, recover, and grow stronger in the face of adversity, or significant sources of stress. These additional sources of stress place different demands on you physically, psychologically, emotionally, and behaviourally. It’s common to see these added stressors after a motor vehicle or workplace accident or after a medical illness, or a change in family dynamics. You may find yourself feeling more irritable, having poor sleep, heightened emotions of sadness or anxiety, struggling to make it through each day and manage your energy levels. But don’t fear- resiliency is not a trait that people have, or don’t have, it’s a set of behaviours, thoughts and actions that can be learned and strengthened!


So where do you start working on becoming more resilient?

Great Question- At SMART Rehab we have Occupational Therapists and Clinical Counsellors can help you develop a road map to make healthier habits and shift your mindset while navigating these stressors. Together you will work on creating changes to pre-existing coping methods and routines to help you thrive physically, mentally, emotionally, and spiritually. It’s important to note that this shift in your behaviours and actions is a journey that will not happen overnight. It’s a commitment to bettering yourself that will undoubtedly come with its own highs and lows. A commitment we feel is so beneficial, because let’s face it life is hard.


There are 4 core elements to building resiliency

              Physical Wellness: This centers around building changes to your sleep hygiene, nutrition choices, movement or exercise habits, and hydration. These strategies have been shown to help your body adapt to stress and increase your ability to regulate your emotions.  

              Self-Awareness: Focuses on your ability to recognize how you are feeling, how you currently cope with stressors. Identifying your values and beliefs. Knowing how to identify these is the first step in being able to shift them. Practices such as mindfulness, meditation, yoga and journaling are common to help ground oneself and create feelings of hope and gratitude. Recognizing and changing negative coping strategies such as drugs/alcohol use, negative self-talk or avoidance is essential for your growth in self-awareness. When faced with stressors you can challenge your perspective to accept your current situation, maintain a positive outlook and learn from each experience.

              Connection: Prioritizing relationships with individuals who are supportive and empathetic. Consider joining a group or fun activity to help introduce you to individuals who are passionate about similar things. Surrounding yourself with individuals who are compassionate and validate your experiences is critical to helping one not feel isolated. You’re not alone.

              Intention and Purpose: Discovering your goals and values can lead towards changes in your life’s purpose. Developing SMART goals gives you the choice and motivation to work towards creating manageable change. Achieving your goals helps increase your sense of self-efficacy. Taking action over your life and pursing the vision you have created for yourself is extremely empowering and helps build your resiliency.


The work begins with a resiliency audit!

The Resiliency Ring – is a tool developed to help evaluate how resilient you are in different aspects of your life on a scale from 1-10.

              10 being completely satisfied and with numerous resources to help you manage.

              1 being completely unsatisfied, expending large amounts of energy and not having enough resources to manage this area of your life.


Taking an inventory can help you visually see where you may struggle and what areas you excel in! This will help you to start making intentional change and develop goals about how you can incorporate different strategies into your life!


Upon taking your inventory, sit a reflect on why you scored yourself that way and to brainstorm solutions and ideas that you can try to implement to make yourself more successful in this area.


Building Resiliency– Building resiliency is easier said than done, change is difficult! It’s estimated that in order to develop a new habit someone must engage in that habit up to 200 times. In order to master a new habit, you must complete 1000 repetitions. On average this could take 3-6 months to develop these changes in your brain.  



In working with your OT, they can provide you with the necessary education and coping strategies to start changing your behaviours and creating actionable steps. It’s important to note that each person’s values and beliefs are different and that not each strategy will work for you. Trust in your provider to trial and adapt activities to find the ones that work for you.



The research shows that working towards your goals far more successful with accountability measures! You can be accountable in a number of ways- Try writing down your goals and keeping a progress planner, checking with your friends, family or OT or involve a friend who is embarking on the same journey who you can share your experiences with and even engage in activities together!



Over the course of building your resiliency, keep coming back and reflecting upon the ring. See how things have changed, make lists of new strategies that work for you. And think about what areas you may want to shift to next! Change is hard and you’re not alone!