Resilience: Its Positive Effect and How To Develop More

Posted on November 21, 2016 by Michelle Mudge-Riley, DO, MHA

captureWhy is it some physicians and providers — despite dealing with the same stresses you deal with — seem to be able to “let it all roll off” or, have a “happy-go-lucky” demeanor?

You work side-by-side and their carefree attitude screams, “nothing bothers me!” What is wrong with them???

Turns out, nothing. But nothing is wrong with you either, even if you don’t feel quite as “happy-go-lucky” about being a doctor or advanced practitioner these days.

The Positive Effect of Resilience

Resilience is the process of adapting, while facing adversity, trauma, stress, or tragedy. Resilience doesn’t mean ignoring the problem or pretending it doesn’t exist. Rather, resilience is finding ways to positively react and move forward — possibly even creating strategies to help others get through similar situations. The emotional pain and sadness felt by people who have experienced major adversity can pave the road to resilience as a positive coping mechanism. Over time, this resilience leads to positive solutions as one realizes the ability to influence his or her surroundings and find meaning and growth in difficult circumstances.

Resilience is important because it is a positive response or coping mechanism to life’s inevitable trauma, tragedy, pain or suffering.

How to Develop Resilience

Fortunately, resilience is not a trait people either have or do not have, it involves behaviors, thoughts and actions anyone can learn and develop. Here are some of the best ways to go about increasing your resilience.

Take care of yourself.

Pay attention to your own needs and feelings. Make an effort to engage in activities you enjoy and find relaxing. Try to exercise regularly as exercise has been shown to produce endorphins, nature’s natural painkiller. Taking care of yourself regularly also helps to keep your mind and body strong to deal with situations requiring resilience.

Spend time with loved ones who can provide support and encouragement.

Make new connections.

Many people find being active in civic groups, faith-based organizations or other local groups provides social support and can help during difficult times.
Volunteer. Serving others has a positive impact on both the recipient and the helper.

Ask for help from others and then rely on their help.

Most physicians and providers have a hard time asking for help, but having supportive relationships with close family members, friends or others is important when life is difficult. Accepting help and support from those who care about and will listen to you strengthens resilience.

Allow yourself to experience the strong emotions inherent to trauma, stress, tragedy and pain.

Embrace change.

Accept change as an unavoidable part of life. While certain goals may no longer be attainable as a result of adverse situations, new goals can be created fitting the new circumstances.

Develop and move toward your goals.

Develop realistic goals with the help of a mentor, peer coach or close family member. Make an effort to do something regularly — even if it seems like a very small accomplishment — to enable you to move toward your goals. Instead of thinking about everything necessary to reach your goal, ask yourself, "What's one thing I know I can accomplish today to helps me move in the direction I want to go?"

Be proactive.

Don't ignore your problems. Consider possible solutions rather than focusing on the problems. Figure out what needs to be done, make a plan and take purposeful actions. Resist the temptation to detach completely from problems and stresses, wishing they would just go away. Although it can take time to recover from a major setback, traumatic event or loss, know your situation can improve if you work at it.

Look for opportunities for self-discovery.

People often learn something about themselves and report they have grown in some respect as a result of their struggles. Medical professionals have told me they have better relationships, a greater sense of purpose, an increased sense of self-worth, a more developed spirituality and heightened appreciation for life after going through stressful times.

We can help.

At VITAL WorkLife we have a variety of resources available to help with developing resilience, including unlimited telephonic counseling, in-person counseling, peer coaching and support and WorkLife Assistant.


If you are a member of one of our solutions, call us any time, day or night, for the support you and your family need.

EAP members: call 800.383.1908
Physician/Provider Wellness Resources members: call 877.731.3949

For more information

For more information about our comprehensive suite of well being solutions, call 800.383.1908.

About VITAL WorkLife

VITAL WorkLife, Inc. is a national behavioral health consulting company providing solutions to support all dimensions of an individual’s well being, while assisting organizations with improving employee engagement. Our approach consists of guiding employees, their families and their organizations in building sustainable, healthy behaviors and cultures. With over 35 years of experience, we have expanded beyond traditional employee assistance programs (EAP) and now offer comprehensive and holistic well being solutions including customizable programs, coaching, training, consulting and leadership development. We have deep experience in education, manufacturing and health care, especially assisting physicians and providers in dealing with the unique challenges facing their profession. Visit us at

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