Recurrent Breast Cancer

Monday, July 1, 2013


   How do you build resilience when your life is falling apart?
   Facing fear in the midst of chaos is challenging. Resilience building includes the ability to face fears, bolster positive emotions, find ways to manage stress, and build relationships.

 What are the effects of long term stress?
  Severe stress, such as loss of a loved one, increases blood levels of cortisol and norepinephrine. Prolonged cortisol release leads to depression and delayed physical healing. Norepinephrine triggers a “fight or flight” response, which can lead to long term anxiety. Unmanaged stress impairs the immune system. It promotes stomach ulcers, asthma, diabetes, depression, and heart disease. Tobacco and alcohol worsen symptoms. Harnessing stress is essential for health. Setbacks are not uncommon, but those who react productively make the most progress.

  How to become resilient:
  Techniques to boost resilience include reinterpreting negative events, bolstering positive emotion, accepting challenges, maintaining a close social network, physical fitness, and imitating successful role models. Developing positive mental and physical habits fortify resilience. Resilient people bend under stress, but they won’t break when confronted with hardship. They bounce back quickly. Life setbacks are common. However, people who react productively make the most progress in life.

  Stressors promote growth, self- esteem, and resilience. A life with no or little stress leads to weakness. A resilient person doesn’t avoid stress, but learns how to control it. Managing sadness, fear, anger, and stress is critical for coping with stress and trauma. Aerobic exercise and strength training increase size of the hippocampus size, the brain portion that bolsters memory.

  The US Department of Health and Human Services recommends at least one hour and fifteen minutes weekly of intense aerobic exercise, swimming, walking, and mowing the lawn. These activities increase brain function and cardiovascular strength.

   Source: Scientific American Mind, July/August 2013

 "At times our own light goes out and is rekindled by a spark from another person. Each of us has cause to think with deep gratitude of those who have lighted the flame within us." Albert Schweizer

 Questions or comments? Contact Dr. Clem at