Little Cities of Hope: Resilience Building for Improved Health


By Angie McCourt, Ciara Gregovich, and Emma Campbell

We all experience challenges and stress. Some of those challenges we face are trauma, relationship problems, health problems, financial stressors and work-related stress. Our ability to respond, cope and recover quickly from these challenges is called resilience. Resilience can help us bounce back from these everyday stressors and complex adversities. Resilience can help prevent substance use through self-awareness and adaptability (Access Health, 2020). It has also been associated with many physical and mental health benefits, including lower rates of depression and increased satisfaction with life (Harvard Health Publishing [HHP], 2017). Here are seven ways to practice resilience in your daily life:

  1. Try Meditation – Meditation can help lower your body’s stress levels and bring self-awareness (HHP, 2020). Here’s a technique for you to try; sit down and close your eyes, focusing on your breathing and how your body feels for five minutes.
  2. Change Your Outlook – Look for the positives in the current situation instead of dwelling on the negative (HHP, 2020). For example, instead of thinking that you failed on a project, think about what you learned from the project and how what you learned will help you in the future.
  3. Reach Out to Support Systems – Allow support from friends and family to aid you during times of stress. A great coping strategy is sharing what is on your mind with someone (HHP, 2020).
  4. Create Positive Thoughts – Think of three things that you are grateful for, three things that went well that day or perform a random act of kindness (HHP, 2020).
  5. Find Humor– Laughing decreases stress hormones and boosts the immune system (HHP, 2020). Surround yourself with people who make you laugh or watch a funny video!
  6. Develop Ready to go Calming/CopingSkills – Having already thought out calming/coping skills prior to a stressful event is helpful in managing daily life. There are different types of calming/coping skills that are unique to everyone. Take a minute to explore what those look like and what best works for you. Examples of calming skills are deep breathing and meditation while coping skills are an activity to help prolong a calm state of mind, such as taking a walk. Links for more information are stated below.
  7. Develop an Emotional Safety Plan – We hardly ever discuss the proper protocols to address an emotional emergency like we do physical emergencies. Developing an emotional safety plan will help us prepare and mediate the crisis at hand. This is being aware of emotional triggers, establishing ready to go support systems with contact information as well as professional contacts if needed. Please see the Emotional Safety Plan link below to begin your plan. 

There are many different ways to practice resiliency, not just the ones described above. Practicing resilience can make change easier and help you push through the difficulties in life. Start using these resiliency skills and more to see how they might help you through adversity, stress and change.

Resources/Learn More


Access Health. (2020, February 24). Resiliency Helps to Prevent Youth Substance Use. Retrieved November, 2020, from

Harvard Health Publishing (HHP; November, 2017.). Ramp up your resilience! Retrieved November, 2020, from

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