The final component of resilience is grace, which provides a person with a purpose that guides their life decisions, influences behavior, shapes goals, offers a sense of direction and creates meaning. Dr. Hassett referred to a number of studies reporting evidence of the health effects of having a purpose in life, such as reduced anxiety and depression, better sleep, better nutrition and diet, increased willpower, improved immune system functioning, increased pain tolerance, healthier aging, decreased risk of heart attack and decreased incidence of Alzheimer’s disease.5–14
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To help patients know or recognize a purpose in life, Dr. Hassett recommended they create a life statement that includes their values, passions, strengths and talents. The process of developing such a statement can help shape a meaning and purpose to life and provide feelings of hope, peace and contentment, even in times of adversity.
Dr. Hassett emphasized that providers play an important role in helping patients develop resiliency. “Healthcare practitioners are powerful figures and an affirmation from them can make a profound impact on their patients,” she said. Example: Providers can point out a strength they have noticed in their patient—such as creativity or persistence—and encourage the patient to tap into that strength to express what it’s like to live with chronic pain.
“It’s important to remember that each patient has unique strengths and resources,” she said.
Mary Beth Nierengarten is a freelance medical journalist based in Minneapolis.
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