Resilience and Self-Care


From our partners at PEHP:

Resilience is the process of adapting well in the face of adversity, trauma, tragedy, threats or significant sources of change or stress. It means "bouncing back" from difficult experiences. It allows us to be knocked down by life and come back stronger than ever. Rather than letting failure overcome us and drain our resolve, we find a way to rise from the ashes. Read 10 Ways to Build Resilience for some suggestions to build your ability to bounce back. 

One of the ways to build resilience is to take care of yourself. Following are some challenges you can try to practice better self-care:

#1 - Social Self-Care - maintaining a network of people - family, friends, and peers - that we can turn to for emotional and practical support.

The need for connection and community is as primal and necessary to our health as the need for food and shelter. Increasingly, more and more Americans are feeling lonely. Recent surveys report nearly half the US population feels alone - young adults most of all. A study done by Dr. Julianne Holt-Lunstad from Brigham Young University found that greater social connection cuts a person's risk of early death by 50 percent. 

Challenge - If you are experiencing feelings of loneliness or know someone who may be, combat it by making new friends or reaching out to existing friends. Try three of the following ideas and implement them in your life. 

  • Go on a lunch date with a good friend
  • Call a friend on the phone
  • Participate in a book club
  • Join a support group
  • Join an exercise class
  • Identify a person who seems lonely and interact with them
  • Develop a new social skill (smiling, eye contact, etc.) to reduce feelings of social awkwardness
  • Participate in new situations that will help you meet new people
  • Give service to someone or volunteer at a local organization

If you are age 60+ the Draper Senior Center has some great activities that will get you involved and moving. 

#2 - Emotional Self-Care: The Art of Self-Compassion - How do you respond to a friend or family member who is hurting? What do you typically say or do? Now pause and consider how you respond when you are hurting. Extending to yourself the same understanding and loving kindness you would to a hurting friend or family member is self-compassion. Self-compassion is wishing the best for yourself and giving yourself what you need in a particular moment. It is being your own friend. Over the past decade researchers have found that self-compassion is strongly tied to positive mental health. It is linked to things like happiness, motivation and life satisfaction. 

Challenge - Try the following activities to learn the art of self-compassion. 

  • Take a Break - Practice using the self-compassion phrases from this 5-minute guided meditation when you are going through a difficult moment. 
  • Think it Through - For 5 minutes, write about how you can offer yourself greater loving kindness in the following areas: physically, mentally, spiritually, and relationally. For each area ask: "How can I be kinder to myself and practice better self-care in this area?"
  • Practice Your Own - Practice your own form of self-compassion. Do whatever works for you!
  • Learn more - If you find yourself resisting this principle of self-compassion, take time to learn more about it! You'll find that self-compassion is not feeling sorry for yourself, self-centered, selfish, or self-indulgent. Use the following to help you:

#3 - Spiritual Self-Care - the practice that connects you to your true self, the essence of who you are.

You may associate spirituality with religion or cultural traditions, but it means so much more. It’s finding meaning, purpose, connection and happiness in your life. Spiritual self-care is anything that brings meaning and kindles a sense of sacredness in your life. When is the last time you nurtured your spirit? Plenty is said about the importance of nurturing the physical body through diet and exercise, but the spiritual body is often forgotten or ignored. Taking time to nurture and feed your soul allows you to re-charge your batteries, helps you unwind and become a human being…a place where you can simply exist. Nurturing your spirit is a very personal practice.

Spiritual self-care can help you to:
    Improve relationships and connections with others
    Experience more inner peace
    Gain clarity on what makes you happy
    Enhance feelings of oneness and universality
    Diminish feelings of isolation and loneliness
    Deepen your relationship with yourself

Challenge - Create a Joy List

Take a few minutes to think about activities that make you happy, calm, or peaceful. What fills your cup? Nourishes you? What is your soul food? Create a list of these things that are relatively easy and pleasant to do and post it in an obvious location to remind yourself to nourish your spirit often. Here are a few ideas to get you started:

  • Listen to uplifting music
  • Read a book for pleasure
  • Go for a walk in nature
  • Enjoy a sunset
  • Needle point/ hand work/ woodworking
  • Call a friend or loved one
  • Snuggle with your sweetheart or child
  • Create a gratitude journal
  • Reflect on your accomplishments
  • Visit places you enjoy, i.e. art gallery, museum, library
  • Pray

#4 - Physical Self-Care: Practice Preventative Care - doing what is necessary for your body's health, welfare, maintenance, and protection. 

Physical self-care includes how you’re fueling your body, how much sleep you’re getting, how much physical activity you are doing, and how well you are caring for your physical needs. Attending medical appointments and taking medication as prescribed are all part of physical self-care. Self-care isn't a one-size-fits-all strategy. Your self-care plan will need to be customized to your needs depending on your stage of life and current situation.  Assess which areas of your life need  more attention and self-care. Reassess your life often. As your situation changes, your self-care needs are likely to shift too. 

Physical Activity Guidelines

An overall fitness routine has 4 main components that are recommended for just about every population: aerobic exercise (e.g., walking), strength training (e.g. resistance bands, lifting weights), balance and stretching.  The Physical Activity Guidelines for Americans recommend adults get at least 150 minutes of moderate- to vigorous–intensity aerobic activity per week OR 75 minutes per week of vigorous-intensity exercise (e.g. running). Participating in at least 2 days of strength training per week with a day of rest in between is also recommended. Adults and particularly older adults are encouraged to incorporate balance and flexibility exercises in-to their routine. 

Nutrition Guidelines

Today about half of Americans have one or more chronic dis-eases that are often related to a poor diet. Everything we eat or drink over time matters. Here are some recommendations:

    Fruit - 2 cups/day
    Vegetables - 2 1/2 cups/day
    Low-fat dairy products - 3 cups/day
    Whole-grain breads, cereal, pasta - 6 oz/day
    Lean meat, skinless poultry, fish, eggs, nuts - 5 oz/day
    Limit daily fat intake to 25-35%
    Avoid trans fats
    Limit added sugars to <10% of calories/day
    Limit alcohol intake
    For more dietary guidelines go to

Sleep Recommendations

The National Sleep Foundation recommends adults ages 18-65 get 7-9 hours of sleep. 

Challenge - Start investing in your self-care by trying some of the following:

  • Dance 
  • Do some easy stretching 
  • Go for a walk at lunchtime 
  • Go hiking and spend time in nature 
  • Take a yoga class 
  • Develop a workout routine 
  • Stay hydrated - try drinking 8 glasses of water a day 
  • Get a massage 
  • Go to bed 30 minutes earlier 
  • Aim for at least 2 veggies and 2 fruits each day 
  • Use a foam roller to relieve tension 
  • Practice deep breathing during the day

If you have a chronic disease or are just looking for more support - check out Salt Lake County Health Department's Healthy Living Program