Listen to and take care of my body. I should get regular medical checkups, see a doctor when necessary, maintain my hygiene and learn to compensate for any physical limitations. A key ally in my strengthening resilience is my brain. It is worth highlighting at the outset that the brain is resilient. The brain has the ability to heal itself, with your help.
The brain evidences what is called “neuroplasticity” or compensatory processes and “neurogenesis” the ability to form new neurons and brain cells and connections. Rewiring occurs in the brain as a result of new experiences. Your brain is a “mismatch detector” that discerns the discrepancy between the demands of a situation and your abilities to meet those demands. The brain is flexible and develops a variety of work around compensatory procedures. For example: individuals who experience head injuries compensate or make up for what they have lost, wrestling new possibilities from their newly imposed limits.
A blind person may develop super-sensitive hearing; the deaf person may become super-sensitive to people’s shift in facial expressions; a pianist who loses her ability to read music may gain new richness in thinking about music. Individuals who are born congenitally blind or deaf exhibit remarkable compensatory processes. They evidence cross-modal plasticity which is the enhanced use of brain regions typically associated with deprived senses. They are able to recruit neighboring cortical areas. The brain is malleable in response to environmental interventions. As Oliver Sacks, the neurologist observes, “The brain is plastic, even in adulthood. It reshapes itself to fit a new reality.” As one neurologically impaired patient observed, “The problems never go away, but I become cleverer at solving them.” (See The Mind’s Eye by Oliver Sacks, 2010). In the same way, an individual can learn to compensate, work around and develop new skills, becoming more resilient.