Foster resiliency in yourself and your family

By Phyllis Picklesimer
Media/Communications Specialist, U of I ACES News and Public Affairs

URBANA, Ill. — Have you ever known a person who went through very difficult times and left you wondering, “How can they handle so much?” Families and individuals face many unexpected challenges throughout life. Resiliency is the ability to recover from life’s challenges and hardships without being overwhelmed, allowing you to bounce forward rather than back.

University of Illinois Extension Family Life Educator Cheri Burcham shares some important characteristics of resilient people:

· Spirituality. Resilient people believe there is a larger purpose in life, and they are connected to something beyond themselves or to a higher power. They are able to look at the bigger picture. Spirituality is not limited to religion; resilient people could also find spiritual nourishment in their moral values.

· Communication. Resilient people practice positive communication habits that help resolve conflict and promote loyalty and trust. Within families, communication that is direct, clear, and honest helps parents and siblings understand the issues facing them and helps them share effectively in the decision-making process.

· Creativity and humor. Resilient people use these traits to build a safe place where they can take refuge and cope in difficult times. Humor can give perspective in dark situations and can revitalize people and provide a break to people under stress.

· Positive outlook. Resilient people use hope, optimism, and confidence to help them make the best of their options. A positive outlook also helps people to accept things that are out of their control.

· Support system. Resilient people cultivate friendships and relationships that promote self-esteem, encourage social activities, and help them to maintain independence. Research shows the presence of social support is linked with psychological well-being.

Learning to balance the realities of our lives with our current and future plans is an ongoing process, Burcham said.

As we pass through the stages of adulthood, we continue to develop our goals for the future while appreciating our past experiences. Remember, it’s not what happens to you, but how you respond to it that contributes to resiliency — and that will help you remain strong in trying times, bouncing forward when you are challenged.”

For more about communication, caregiving, and family living, contact Burcham at or by calling (217) 543-3755. Check out U of I Extension Unit No. 19’s website at and visit them on Facebook and Pinterest.

Posted May 1, 2014

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