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Resilience tips

I was asked to prepare a one-pager to use following screenings of Paper Tigers, or in conjunction with using the ACE Questionnaire. While hard to capture all I wanted in one page, here is the product, in case it might be of use to others.  ~~One reminder, from Dr. Rob Anda- it is very important that the ACE Questionnaire never be used as a diagnostic test.  He reiterated this at the April 2016 Science of Hope Seattle WA. conference hosted by Healthy Generations. 

Now that you’ve watched Paper Tigers, what can you do today to build resilience?    

Resilience can be developed at all ages! We just need to take the time to practice strategies that work. There are "internal" and "external" factors to be aware of-  belonging, hope, attachment/connections, empowerment, safety, capacity (your own and your community’s), culture, sense of purpose, self-awareness, a positive self-view-  among others.

Self-care is #1! When you care for yourself, you are better able to care for others. Do what you enjoy most: take time for yourself, walk or exercise regularly (grab a friend or family member too), color, read, play, drink plenty of water, add those fruits and veggies to your diet - JUST DO IT daily! You are the most important person and deserve this more than anyone else!

Check out where you are in regulating your own emotions. One idea- set your watch/phone to beep hourly, and check to see what emotional state you are in, and take 3 deep breaths! Relax and be in the moment. That only takes a minute, but sets the stage for the remaining 59 minutes of the next hour! Notice when you feel yourself getting upset and think why that is happening, are you hungry, angry, lonely or tired? Find your safe zone. Take a moment to fix what is happening internally. Your child/spouse/pet/other will benefit when you are able to recognize and manage your own calm. Claim your calm!

Gratitude! As you get out of bed and throughout your day, take a moment to feel what it feels like when you are in a moment of gratefulness. Just bringing gratitude into your conscious mind can offset stress chemicals on the spot! Be more conscious of your thoughts, and build on the positive energy that comes from this simple practice. This also builds your brain power!

Build connections. Our social connections are so important too, seek out people who you know, like you and smile at you, and smile back, laugh daily, smile at others, use positive intent (I wish you well!) even when someone has just cut you off. Maybe they are truly in the midst of a crisis we can’t see.  Say something positive the next time you are in the check-out line, or smile at someone as you are passing by. That one moment of exchange is powerful. Share your smile! You may be the only person that day who reaches out to that person. What a gift. We now know that nurturance is reparative and restorative, building new neural pathways.

Build external supports, people that help you, move you forward, that you can trust, so you can say I HAVE my support system. Build internal strengths, so you can say I AM a person of value. And build the social and personal skills that say I CAN solve problems, be creative and manage my stress in positive ways.

The bottom line is- higher resilience is what heals, mitigates, and transforms the brain and the impact of adversity.  Resilience can continue to be built by increasing each component in our lives. Resilience is self-healing and resilience trumps (buffers) ACEs. We’re all in this together. Help strengthen your personal resilience, your family’s, and your community’s. It’s what we call, the Heart of the Matter.               

What to dig a bit deeper? These questions address resilience and allow your reflection on core concepts.         

Concept          Question                  SCALE – highly agree, agree, disagree, highly disagree

Belonging         I have people in my life I can trust.

Belonging         People show respect for my beliefs and the way that I live my life.


Safety          People say that my responses in stressful situations are usually helpful to my

          relationships with family/others.


Safety          I feel safe at home.


Safety            I feel safe in my community.


Wellbeing          I get the social/emotional support that I need.


Wellbeing         I regularly have time for reflection for connection to sources of strength

                    within myself/my beliefs.


Social          When a neighbor is not home or needs something

Capital           they reach out to me and I offer my help.


Social          I often ask my friends and neighbors advice about personal things like

Capital          child rearing, job openings, resources.


Executive          I recognize when I am feeling a “short fuse” and manage that.



Executive          I am comfortable figuring out things or events when I don’t have clear

Function           instructions.


Self-control        I am comfortable expressing my emotions.


Self-control        I can calm myself down when needed.


Initiative          I am open to new ideas.


Initiative               I am able to say “no” when I need to.


Internal beliefs      I am hopeful about the future.


Internal beliefs      I believe the support I give to others is important.


Relationships       I have someone I can talk to about a personal problem. 


Relationships       I am able to understand and share the feelings of others.


Adapted from: a working draft Unpacking Adversity, Empowering Equity, Healthy Gen, Laura Porter pers. comm.; and Devereaux Adult Resilience Survey, 2008, M. Mackrain.   Geof Morgan, fellow MARC colleague, helped me shape my thoughts, thank you Geof and Laura.

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