Stress Management, Well-being and Self-Care

Dr. Joan Borysenko and Resilience

by James Porter April 12, 2011

This week we are going to be talking to Dr. Joan Borysenko, about her new book on resilience entitled: It's Not the End of the World: Developing Resilience in Times of Change. Joan is the author many books including The NY Times Bestseller, Minding the Body, Mending the Mind and more recently Your Soul's Compass. Joan got her Ph.D. from Harvard Medical School and soon after that helped to start the prestigious Mind Body Clinic in Boston, with Dr. Hebert Benson.

Joan BorysenkoJoan's new self- help book is as inspirational as it is educational and a book that is easily readable in one sitting. Joan sums up the purpose of the book in the preface when she says: "Understanding that the future isn't something that just happens to you, but something that you create, is the key to surviving and thriving in changing times."

Don't forget to check out our relaxation CD and relaxation video both entitled Relaxing Through the Seasons with Joan Borysenko.


Webster's dictionary defines resilience as: spring back into shape after being stretched, bent or compressed. Stress resilience is defined as your ability to cope with the ups and downs of life. And stress resilience is achieved by: seeing serious problems as temporary setbacks, looking forward instead of backward, staying positive in the face of adversity and fostering an attitude of gratitude. As one writer put it: When it comes to the ups and downs of life, it's not how far you fall but how high you bounce. Resilient people, like a boxer in the ring, get right back up after a fall, and keep on fighting.

Some people are just naturally more stress resilient. We all know that certain friend or comrade who seems unfazed by anything. Stress just rolls right off his or her back. Besides using the behavior of this stress resilient person as a model, here are seven things you can do to boost your own stress resilience:

  1. Build your coping resources. Exercise, meditate, practice yoga or some other form of relaxation on a regular basis. These activities not only help you relax after a stressful day, they help you handle stress better in the future.

  2. Be flexible. Trees and shrubs that don't bend in the wind will break. Learn how to go with the flow or you will break too. Begin by learning how to compromise. The sooner you learn that your way isn't the only way, the sooner you will see how to move through a stressful crisis. It may be inflexible thinking that got you into the difficult situation in the first place.

  3. Seek support. Your friends, family, comrades, spiritual counselors can help you weather any storm. These are your pillars of strength. Don't be afraid to lean on them in times of trouble. Tell these supportive people exactly what is going on: I'm having trouble financially. I feel really depressed. I am having trouble with a person who I thought was my friend. There is an old saying that applies here: A problem shared is a problem halved.

  4. See setbacks as temporary. We all have a tendency to "awfulize" and believe that the worst possible scenario is the only scenario. Try your best to move through times of crisis knowing that eventually you are going to come out OK on the other side.

  5. Nurture an attitude of gratitude. Before going to bed at night make a mental list of everything you have to be grateful for. Gratitude is one of the basic underpinnings of happiness and stress resilience.

  6. Develop your spiritual resources. Strong spiritual beliefs are a great antidote for stress. When you truly believe that everything happens for a reason, your stress resilience is going to go sky high.

  7. Take action. Don't let your problems cripple you to the point of inertia, or inaction. Take any action that moves you forward even if it is only a "baby step."

Stress resilience is about facing stress head on and looking at stressful situations as opportunities for growth. Begin to see your stress like a professional athlete sees a workout or practice: Handling stress is how you get better at what you do. Your stress is like a workout for your mind. It builds character and exercises your problem-solving ability. It's part of being human. When you see stress in this way - and learn to take it in stride - you will begin to appreciate life more, enjoy challenges and overcome obstacles that only temporarily block your way.

5 Things you can do to increase your RESILIENCE

  1. Build your coping resources. Meditate and/or exercise on a regular basis.

  2. Be flexible. Inflexible thinking can lock you into old unproductive patterns of behavior.

  3. See setbacks as temporary. Trust that you'll come out OK on the other side of a crisis.

  4. Nurture an attitude of gratitude. Make a mental list of everything you have to be thankful for before you fall asleep at night.

  5. Take action. Don't let your problems cripple you to the point of inertia or inaction.

James Porter
James Porter