Homework (Heartwork) for Us All

Homework (Heartwork) for Us All: Building Resilience
– Caroline Dawson

From the perspective of standing at my kitchen stove, I used to keep my Tupperware down and to the right. There is a corner lazy Susan type thing in the pantry. It was a mess. I’d try to turn it and get the item I needed – containers would slip off and separate from the lid and stop the thingy from spinning. So. I moved it and now Tupperware lives under the island. I changed something. Even though I was in control of that change, it didn’t stop me from reaching down and to the right for a while till I learned the new habit to turn around and get it from the island.

Even this low stakes change took a little time to adjust to.

Why am I sharing this mundane story with you?


Because on my mind today is the tremendous influence of changes large and small, and of how our coping skills, our resilience relate to our response.

As a social worker I have the honor providing advocacy for folks in many different life circumstances. Almost universally, this includes navigating something that “isn’t working” in their life. Something difficult. Something likely related to a change or series of changes.

Our resilience  directly influences  how we handle change. Little changes – like where to keep the Tupperware – and big changes, like a new medical diagnosis or helping a loved one move to receive the care they need.

Here’s some good news – Resilience can be built.

We can build up our capacity to handle the changes that come our way. And, building our own resilience has a cumulative effect for those around us. If you work an senior community, not only do you benefit – your co-workers and residents benefit from your resilience. If you are a caregiver, you and your loved one or client benefit.

Here are 10 ways to build that resilience. In fact – the American Psychological Association has a whole guide called The Road to Resilience. 

    10 Ways to Build Resilience
from the American Psychological Association

  1. Make connections.
  2. Avoid seeing crises as insurmountable problems.
  3. Accept that change is a part of living.
  4. Move toward your goals.
  5. Take decisive actions.
  6. Look for opportunities for self-discovery.
  7. Nurture a positive view of yourself.
  8. Keep things in perspective.
  9. Maintain a hopeful outlook.
  10. Take care of yourself.
  11. Additional ways of strengthening resilience may be helpful.

The key is to identify ways that are likely to work well for you as part of your own personal strategy for fostering resilience.

Included above is simply the list – the real homework is found in the Road to Resilience Guide. This is guide something you could peruse over your lunch break, or waiting in line. Think of it as an ongoing guide.

This the kind of homework (heartwork) that is never “done”. It isn’t a checklist item to be crossed off. “Check. All my Resilience is Built!”

Check in – Not Check List

We can check in with ourselves:

Did I reach out to someone today to make or keep a connection? “Check”
Am I feeling overwhelmed?
Am I tracking goals?
Making actions to meet those goals?
How am I taking care of myself today? Right now?

School is back in session -and this heartwork… homework assignment is for us all. This kind of heartwork homework doesn’t have to be done alone. A trusted friend, therapist even the Road to Resilience guide itself offers resources beyond the guide.

What works for you? Which items from the APA’s list have had a positive impact on your resilience?




I agree to have my personal information transfered to MailChimp ( more information )
Join our visitors who are receiving our newsletter and receive our blog updates direct to your inbox.
We hate spam. Your email address will not be sold or shared with anyone else.

Join the conversation