• Jonathan Cresson

Building your resilience toolkit

Updated: May 13

You can create a resilience plan for yourself and try to practice these skills. Be open to not doing all of them perfectly and curious about what you are going to learn about yourself and others in the process.

This toolkit was originally created by Sydney Ey, Ph.D., Associate Professor, Department of Psychiatry Associate Director, OHSU Resident and Faculty Wellness Program and OHSU Peer Support.


1. Recognize your signs of stress

  • Where do you feel it in your body? _______________

  • What is your “bad habit” when stressed? _______________


2. Build physical health

Make small changes to improve health (better sleep, nutrition, hydration, exercise) and be accountable to someone.


One change I would like to make: _______________

Who I’ll tell about it:_______________


3. Strengthen relaxation response—“calm body/calm mind”


Activities at home that help me relax: _______________

Activities at work that help me relax: _______________


Try out relaxation strategies and ways to be more present:

  • Mindfulness meditation (look for apps like Brightmind or headspace)

  • Mindfulness techniques you have identified that help

  • Self-soothe by doing something comforting related to 1 of the 5 senses 1. Tactile (hold something soft/comforting/grounding) 2. Smell (lavender, fresh air) 3. Visual (puppy photos, look out the window at trees) 4. Auditory (music, sounds of nature) 5. Taste (tea, chocolate)

4. Use your strengths

Describe a time that you were able to overcome or handle a major challenge in your life.

  • What did you learn about yourself? _______________

  • What personal strength(s) did you draw upon? _______________

  • Draw an image of when you are your most resilient

  • How might you apply this strength now? _______________

5. Increase positive emotions on a daily basis

  • Sources of joy, humor: _______________

  • Give gratitude: _______________

  • Accomplishments:_______________


6. Engage in meaningful activities

Notice regularly what happened in your day that was meaningful.

What are those activities/moments? _______________


7. Create a Caring Community

  • Connect daily

  • Identify Your Sources of Support Work_______________ Community_______________


Selected Self-Help Resources

Bickel, J. Not too late to reinvigorate: How midcareer faculty can keep growing. Academic Medicine. 2016/10/11. Published online.


Burnett, B. & Evans, D. (2016). Designing Your Life: How to Build a Well-Lived, Joyful Life. New York: Alfred Knopf. Germer, C. (2009). The Mindful Path to Self-Compassion: Freeing Yourself from Destructive Thoughts. New York: Guilford Press.


Reivich, K. & Shatte, A. (2003). The Resilience Factor: 7 Keys to Finding Your Inner Strength and Overcoming Life’s Hurdles. New York: Broadway Books.


Stone, D. Batton, B., Heen, S., & Fisher, R. (2010). Difficult Conversations. New York: Penguin Books.



Cultivating Resilience is a twice-weekly video conference series curated by Relay Resources Learning & Development Manager, Jonathan Cresson. The series was started during COVID-19 to allow employees time to share and provide them with a new tool or technique to help focus on resilience while managing the emotions they may be feeling. This blog series captures the topics covered.

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