The Surprising Key to Resiliency


The Surprising Key to Resiliency

Danielle Phillips-Dorsett, ND

Have you been feeling crushing anxiety, fatigue, or depression after a devastating event? Easily overwhelmed, quick to anger or finding it hard to connect to those closest to you? These may be symptoms your body needs help building resiliency. After decades in jail, Gandhi rose to be the leader of an entire country. We’re not all Gandhi, but we do have it within us to handle adversity without it tearing down our world (at least not forever).

Resiliency:  The ability to recover quickly

from disruptive change, or misfortune

without being overwhelmed or

acting in dysfunctional or harmful ways.

When we face our own pitfalls in life, the feeling of hopelessness may hang on longer than welcome. This is why the concept of resiliency and resiliency training has been of particular interest to those working with military personnel, domestic first responders (police, fire, emergency response teams) and children who face trauma. It does not stop there; those struggling to handle a breakup/divorce, death in the family, terminal diagnosis, discrimination, and (the most recent election cycle!) are also prone to overwhelming emotion. While it is completely normal and desirable to mourn and have strong emotions; they do not need to turn into lifelong patterns or interfere with getting back to a fulfilling life.

Studies are coming out from a wide array of professional journals, including the Journal of Emergency Management, Journal of Clinical Psychology, and the Journal of Youth and Adolescence, looking at resiliency interventions. What I find most interesting is that while the word ‘resilient’ is defining an individual’s ability, these studies are showing that support is actually the key to resiliency. If you are not feeling very resilient, here are some ways to garner support:

*Support your mental health: This of course includes traditional counseling- you are not weak, crazy or weird for going to a mental health professional!! It also includes self-compassion, meditation, EMDR (a technique to move the body through trauma), and NeurOptimal or other biofeedback systems to train the body to return to a natural state.

*Support your general wellbeing with connection: This is all about interpersonal relationships. Cultivate the relationships with friends and family that nourish and lift you up. Find an organization, such as the Wounded Warrior Project (veterans) or Casting for Recovery (breast cancer thrivers), that targets a specific group for supportive activities. Or, check out for over 30 open groups interested in a variety of activities.

*Support your physical health: Are you sleeping through the night and waking rested, eating to nourish your body, eliminating (pooping) daily, moving (exercising) regularly, and taking time to fully relax throughout your week? If not, pick one area and focus on improving it. For support, seek out a practitioner trained to help with these foundations of health.

Side note: It is easiest to cultivate support when you need it least. Take these periods of time to reach out to others that may need your support. We all become more resilient when those around us are also resilient. If you feel like a naturally resilient person, consider acknowledging the people and opportunities that have helped you through a particularly rough situation.

For more information and resources used in writing this article, please contact the Yellowstone Naturopathic Clinic.

Best to you in health,

Danielle Phillips-Dorsett, ND