Resilience, illness and community

Posted by on Sep 14, 2012 in aging, health, general | 0 comments

This week I called on your help. And you answered by sharing Wednesday’s Team Brilliant post, joining the community, sharing via Facebook and Twitter, donating and buying tee shirts. I am honoured and wowed. Which is why I want to this little gem with you: when you are ill, your resilience appears to highly related to social support, along with the ability to cope, finding benefit in your experience, however difficult, and perception.

So, what is meant by ‘resilience?’

Across the literature and across different illnesses, resilience in the form of adversity refers to one’s capacity to successfully maintain or regain one’s mental health and attitude. It relates to hope, empowerment, acceptance of hardship and determination. Anticipating and envisioning a ‘healthy self’ in the future can help us see past current and immediate physical or illness hardships.

Social support from family and friends also plays an essential role. Social support has been associated with better psychological health, finding benefit in one’s situation, hardiness and self-esteem. Moreover, studies show that social support actually boosts success in living with an illness.

Over the past several weeks, we have seen that in action, as a community of people, many with only two people in common, joined together to help and support someone with a critical illness in need. When I asked that person how that effort impacted his outlook, he told me that he looked forward to the future when he could pay it forward.

Social support is powerful. According to a recent review in Psychosomatics Journal, “social support is clearly vital to most patients to enhance resilience.”  The researchers say that factors that further enhance this support include active coping, positively assessing one’s situation, acceptance, and spirituality. Ultimately, these factors in concert can help  many individuals with illness form a new framework, identify new and positive inner strength that they never realized they were capable of and even improve overall functioning.

Goethe once wrote “The world is so empty if one thinks only of mountains, rivers & cities; but to know someone who thinks & feels with us, & who, though distant, is close to us in spirit, this makes the earth for us an inhabited garden.”

Whose garden will you inhabit?


p.s. Julie Pippert. I have a tee shirt for you.



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