What Is Resilience?

What Stress Does to the Body

Performance stress is almost unavoidable. But there are many different factors that dictate just how our minds and bodies respond to stressful events.

In tennis players, higher levels of cortisol have been associated with more unsuccessful serves, and greater levels of anxiety.

Typically, stress is the result of an exchange between two factors: demands and resources. A person might feel stressed about an event if they feel the demands on them are greater than they can handle. So for an athlete, demands include the high level of physical and mental effort required to succeed, their levels of uncertainty about the event or their chance of succeeding, and any potential dangers to their health (such as injury) or their self-esteem…

Study highlights how resilience is dynamic, not a static character trait

A new study find that resilience is a dynamic process, rather than a fixed trait – suggests this may have significant ramifications for the business word.

“One takeaway here is that annual employee surveys may not be the best way to assess employee resilience and commitment to an organization”

Patrick Flynn, North Caroline State University

“Organisations are interested in cultivating a resilient workforce, because they want people who are able to remain committed to an organisation and its goas over time,” said Patrick Flynn, corresponding author of the study and an assistant professor of human resources management at North Carolina State University’s Pool College of Management.

“Our work here does a couple of things,” Flynn says. “Frist it finds that resilience is more of a process than a characteristic.  Second, it identifies some of the characteristics that can be contributed to that process in meaningful way.  Taken together, we think the findings can inform recruitment, hiring, operations and training practices.”

At the heart of the study is the idea that resilience fluctuates, because it encompasses the way that an individual responds to a variety of circumstances over time….

What Is Resilience?

In our psychiatric practices, we naturally focus on psychopathology and the negative effects that adverse and traumatic experiences have on our patients’ mental health. We assess disaster survivors’ maladjustment in order to develop policies for mental health recovery programs. However, the majority of individuals exposed to disasters or other traumatic events do not develop post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) or another lasting psychiatric disorder, although they may experience temporary ripples on the surface of their emotional lives and sub-clinical symptoms for a time.

Resilience is a relatively neglected research topic.

In considering the patients seen by my residents and me, I am often in awe of the tremendous strength that many of them have developed despite experiencing horrific abuse, neglect, disasters, extreme poverty, major losses, and other traumatic events. Some who were severely abused or neglected as children become devoted parents or highly functional adults, albeit with effort. How do we understand this emotional hardiness?1

Resilience is a relatively neglected research topic. A Medline search for medical literature related to “psychological resilience” revealed only 6471 articles, whereas a search for articles related to “PTSD” and “post-traumatic stress” (which does not include other mental health problems associated with trauma) identified 36,682 and 18,823, respectively. In fact, in my own research on biological markers for symptoms and diagnoses of PTSD, depression, and anxiety after disaster, we explored heart rate and blood pressure responses, heart rate vulnerability, and levels of cortisol, interleukin-2, and interleukin-6—yet we did not explore those markers or personal characteristics associated with resilience…

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