Resilience – A Much-Needed Character Trait in Healthcare

MFM once spoke to a doctor who mentioned that he had suffered mental health issues although now, he’s symptom-free. His first episode occurred at medical school where he suffered a breakdown. He received treatment for it and thought nothing of it as there weren’t any recurrences. 

But at his HO training, he experienced a full-blown episode and was diagnosed with Major Depressive Disorder (MDD). It was brought on by a highly stressful work environment and continuous lack of rest and sleep. For a long time, he didn’t understand what had happened to him. Life had been busy with his medical studies followed by his medical training. There wasn’t time to take stock and process what was happening to him internally, which was what brought on the episodes, that is, until he became part of a support group helping people with depression.

Through his support group, he made the connection that unbeknownst to him, his parents’ divorce when he was  a child  had had such a devastating effect on his emotions. So, whenever he felt a loss of control and undue stress in life, it affected his mental health. He has since left medicine and become a counselor and a mental health advocate helping many uncover the deep-seated issues affecting their emotions and their inability to lead a normal life.

For healthcare professionals, RESILIENCE is a much-needed character trait. It is an environment where workers suffer burnout and stress easily. If within that environment bullying and abuse of power exist, then that is a recipe for disaster.

What is Resilience?

According to The Resiliency Solution, resilience is the ability to return to normal functioning despite the “disturbances” or turmoil in the environment. A few important aspects of resilience are:

  • We are not born with resilience, it must be DEVELOPED.
  • Resilience is not mental toughness or personal strength but rather FLEXIBILITY  and the ABILITY TO BOUNCE BACK from stressful situations.
  • It’s about knowing how to GET BACK TO OUR OPTIMAL FUNCTIONING and RESPONDING APPROPRIATELY rather than being overwhelmed by the emotions and the stress.
  • With life’s pressures, resilience helps with ADAPTABILITY.
  • The key to being resilient is EMOTIONAL AWARENESS. It is the ability to take note of the things which are shifting or becoming more stressful in one’s life. Emotional awareness helps with RESPONDING AND NOT REACTING to the situation.

A Resilient Person

Resilient people are those who are able to WORK THROUGH THE EMOTIONS AND THE EFFECTS of the stress and pain and rebuild their lives.

Embodying Resilience

We can embody resilience by:

  • Increasing our emotional awareness
  • Listening to what our body is telling us
  • Creating a space to listen to what’s happening inwardly which will help us respond skillfully rather than react impulsively.

Techniques for Building Resilience

  • Deep-breathing techniques and meditation can help restore the nervous system to its innate ability and capacity or resistance.
  • Having a strong support system will help a person feel safe and increase a person’s capacity to be resilient. This support system could be our family, friends or the workplace.

Childhood trauma, devastating life events, or bad experiences coupled with work stress, compounded by a toxic workplace could seriously affect our ability to be resilient and could lead to mental health issues. So to all the healthcare workers out there, take time to become emotionally aware, listen to what your body is telling you, create the space to listen, develop resilience techniques and be an overcomer! Here’s wishing you the very best and A HAPPY 2023 TO YOU!

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