Today, I’d like to look at resilience in recovery, and how to deal with stress and challenges.

First off, what is resilience?
A quick search on Google offers at least 2 definitions:

1. The capacity to withstand or to recover quickly from difficulties, i.e., toughness. (Dictionary definition)
2. Resilience is the process and outcome of successfully adapting to difficult or challenging life experiences, especially through mental, emotional, and behavioral flexibility and adjustment to external and internal demands. (American Psychological Association definition)

So, for today I’d like to offer a second questionnaire, (following on from the ACEs questionnaire in yesterday’s article), and that is the “The Resilience Questionnaire”. The resilience questionnaire is 14 questions that help us see what protective factors we had and what resilience we may have – alongside our ACEs score – to act as a sort of counterweight to the trauma.

We may experience Trauma because of things that happen to us, however resilience is something we may have some of and we can learn and develop more of. It may also come through what has been “sown” into us by the people in our lives over time. The Resilience questionnaire helps us to bring this into focus.

My own situation:
My ACEs score is 7 out of 10 which is high and reflects the things that happened to me before I was 18, and my resilience score is 9 out of 14 which is evidence that I had some protective factors going on for me too. While one doesn’t cancel the other out or minimise the effect of the trauma at the time, it does help.

In later life, my own behaviour got bad enough in terms of substance use, crime etc that I was able to attend rehab. I got to rehab via one of my “protective factors”, an angel of a man (a minister) who was a family friend, looked out for me and was able to help get me to rehab.

Here is the Resilience questionnaire in case you want to access it, and it contains the ACEs questionnaire again too. It’s not a substitute for more formal help and advice but it may start you on a road of enquiry and self-reflection that could be fruitful for you.

Developing Resilience
If resilience is the ability to bounce back from difficult situations and to adapt to change, what can we do that will help us develop more of it to aid us in our recovery journey as its essential for managing stress and dealing with the challenges that may arise during the recovery journey.

Here are some ways we can build resilience:
1. Practice self-care:
Take care of your physical, emotional, and mental health by getting enough sleep, eating a healthy diet, exercising regularly, and engaging in activities that bring you joy.

2. Develop a support network:
Surround yourself with people who support your recovery and who you can turn to for help during difficult times, in the words of Jordan Peterson, in his book 12 Rules for Life, “make friends with people who wat the best for you”.

3. Practice mindfulness:
Mindfulness, as we have seen in a previous article, can help you become more aware of your thoughts and emotions, and can help you develop the ability to respond to challenges with a clear and focused mind.

4. Practice problem-solving:
Develop problem-solving skills by breaking down challenges into smaller, manageable steps and coming up with a plan to tackle each step.

5. Practice gratitude:
Cultivate a sense of gratitude for the positive aspects of your life, which can help you maintain a positive mindset and bounce back from difficult situations.

6. Learn from setbacks:
It sounds trite but I’ve found it to be true, use setbacks as an opportunity to learn and grow, rather than as a reason to give up (re-framing)
7. Practice acceptance:
Accept that there will be challenges and setbacks along the way and develop the ability to bounce back from them.
By practicing these strategies, and whatever else works for you or that you can find out there, can help us develop resilience, which can then help us manage stress, deal with challenges, and maintain our sobriety.