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Cultivating Resilience – Guest Post

Submitted by Sarah Johnston, BSN, CCRN
Critical Care Float Pool
Kaiser Sunnyside Medical Center

As healthcare professionals, we get a firsthand look at how fragile we are as human beings and at the same time just how resilient we can be. We can see how life is a continuous balance of both. Sometimes things unfold as we have planned and other times, we are humbled at how little control we have. If there is anything, we can be sure of from helping people who are sick, it’s that recovery is going to look different for everyone- and the same goes for building resilience. Resilience is defined as one’s capacity to recover, which is a process that takes commitment, practice, and is going to be a unique experience for everyone. As front-line workers during a pandemic, we have had an intimate connection with COVID in that we don’t ever get a break- not at work or at home. We grieve the loss of normal in our personal lives and we come to work scared and unsure of what the future will hold. What an enormous quality of a human – to be made so strong yet so vulnerable.

How can we view this experience as an opportunity to cultivate resilience? Studies show that intentionally shifting our focus and our mindset creates a more positive outlook on life in general. It’s not in a way that doesn’t allow us to feel wholeheartedly pain and suffering, but rather it gives us the ability to choose strength to continue forward. In each of our stories, we get to choose whether we play the victim or the hero.  We could share with each other all our individual methods and approaches to fostering resilience. It might be inspiring to some and it might be a start in the right direction. For others, it might be disheartening, and reaffirm their shame and disappointment in themselves for not doing or feeling better.  I wonder if we might find more value in showing one another compassion for the grief we have all experienced. Learning how to give ourselves and each other permission to feel grief because that is where resilience is planted.  Rather than a list of how we can foster resilience, what if we spend time learning how to be reflective, mindful, intentional, and balanced. What if we spend time being kind to each other, helping others, and putting our focus on the community and people we are surrounded by – lifting each other up and creating a culture that promotes resilience and encouraging one another to persevere through challenges. COVID isn’t likely the first and surely will not be the last opportunity we experience in this life where we are given the choice to give up in despair and hopelessness or to move forward with a new perspective.

So, take a moment to reflect on who you are, what your world looks like, and how you can be kind to yourself and others while you navigate seasons of change. Honor each other for small success and recognize we are all on the same journey to planting resilience and growing together as a community.

Thank you, Sarah!!